Speak the Truth to Power

Posted on September 4, 2016

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A trend is present in this country which is disturbing. The Christian church is under attack and Christians seem to be hiding from the assailants, afraid to speak our mind and the truth for fear of “offending” someone or being attacked for being narrow-minded, religious fanatics.

Let me gently suggest that we come from behind the pulpits and church buildings and speak loudly and boldly to all Americans. I am not simply addressing pastors, priests, ministers, rabbis, evangelists and all who speak from the pulpit, but all of us.

This is not a popular strategy among ministers. You may offend portions of your congregation when the sheep hear their sins delineated and the consequences to pay. They may stop giving to your church. They may leave. You may lose your job. The deacons and elders and bishops and boards of this and that may rise up and boot you out for disturbing the peace.

But, that, let me suggest, is your job. Take what you know far better than I—just a secular guy without pastoral or seminary training—and preach it to all, Christians and everyone else: those pretending to practice Christianity, atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Jews, all the way from the one percent who own the country to those who are scavenging for food in the streets of any city in this country. Disturb their peace and tranquility.

I am not suggesting the church be put in charge of the government. We separated the church from the state when we created this new nation precisely because the church could be so narrow-minded, bossy, intemperate, and downright tyrannical in making people conform to church doctrine and teachings.

So we separated the two, but gave the people the freedom to worship any way they wished. These two principles—the separation of church and state, and the freedom of religion—usually complement each other, although we can make them seem contradictory.

What has happened today is that Christians have been backed into their corners and their churches by a radical, politically correct, intensely secular sector in our society which demands the absolute separation of church and state.

I’m sorry to have to tell them that that is precisely why we are in such a pickle today. We have confined the principal source of our morality, truth, ethics, equality, liberty and every other norm we consider sacred to the inside of the church. It needs to be preached from the rooftops of the country to everyone. All need to be held accountable, including, and perhaps even most important right now, the two candidates running for president.

Preachers and pastors should not be cowed into corners by fear of speaking the truth and offending someone. They have as much right as anyone to sound the alarm and disturb the peace and tranquility of a people, and their political leaders, who have gone deaf to the message of Christianity. All they listen to is themselves, as if they might find in themselves the truth of life.

If I were to write an open letter (that might have a chance of being read) to Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump (alphabetical order), my letter would tell you—with all due respect to your high places in our political pecking order—that I don’t hear a Christian voice reflected in your speeches and interviews.

A peep about “thinking of someone and having them in your prayers” is a cheap, condescending bow to Christians.

Let me be real upfront here, without dilly dallying in oblique or code phrases. You need to start listening—deeply–to the voice and message of Christianity, the prevailing faith of this country since its founding going all the way back to the Pilgrims in the seventeenth century.

According to my Bible, two of the biggest sins of humankind are lying and pride, and both of you have been hung out to dry for one or both of those. I won’t indulge in addressing your other peccadillos since I’m not your pastor or priest, wherever you go to church. And that is the message of this message.

Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump, you need to hear the Word, truly listen, embrace and integrate those principles and rules into you lives.

I would start by taking up the call of Jesus to serve others, putting yourself aside and putting others before you.

Maybe wash a few feet. I’ll even volunteer a toesy or two, and promise to reciprocate.

Published as “Don’t Fear Speaking the Truth to Power” in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday July 24, 2017