For eight years we have been blessed with a scandal-free First Family. I, for one, will miss President Obama’s quiet dignity and deep strength in the face of all the hatred and opposition he faced from the moment he took the oath of office.
History will bear record to his accomplishments. He has exemplified true servant leadership and has led our nation with intelligence, wit, humor and true humility.
We now enter a new era where the new leader of our nation thrives on lies and scandals, cannot communicate a clear thought and reeks of racism, xenophobia and bigotry. I, along with most of the world, am holding my breath as the United States begins a perilous journey led by an ego larger than the nation, itself.
Farewell, President Obama, and God bless you. You are already missed.
“[T]here remains [in some parts of the country] a strong bias towards the old error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Govt. & Religion neither can be duly supported. Such indeed is the tendency to such a coalition, and such its corrupting influence on both parties, that the danger cannot be too carefully guarded against.”
― James Madison, James Madison: Writings
Madison’s words are as true today as when he originally penned them almost two centuries ago. Our nation’s founders separated government and religion to guard against this “corrupting influence on both parties.”
Today we are living with the results of not defending against this old error. Madison warned us to ever guard more closely against this unholy alliance. We should have heeded his words.
Over 80% of white evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump to be our country’s next president. They knowingly agreed with, and endorsed Trump’s clearly stated anti-Christian values.
This is a clear and present danger. The majority of those voting in this election claiming to follow Jesus Christ cast their vote for a lying, racist, fear-mongering, bigot. They supported a xenophobic, bullying, braggart who is the antithesis of the love of Jesus Christ reflected in the gospels.
How and why this happened should ring alarms for leaders throughout the faith community. When this large a percentage of “believers” abandon the teachings of Jesus to vote for hate and fear, it is a statement that something is drastically and critically awry.
Personally, I see this as a failure of leadership, itself. There has been a significant lack of courage to address the deep divisive issues of our society from the pulpit. Christian leaders have not led by example, and have played it safe and “made nice” rather than confront un-Christian values in our congregations.
And so now, one cannot tell the believers from the nonbelievers without a program. We have met the enemy and they are us.
The Dalai Lama, long an advocate of peace and reconciliation among various faith traditions, recently declared that once a person or a group decides to indulge in violence they are no longer being true to their supposed beliefs. He pointed out that the Koran even states that once one commits bloodshed that person can no longer be called a follower of Allah.
Christians need to take a lesson from the Dalai Lama. In a time when so many are promoting divisiveness, here is one spiritual leader who continues to seek reconciliation. As followers of the Prince of Peace, we are called to be “ambassadors of peace and agents of reconciliation.”
There is no room in Christianity for hate speech, xenophobia, and divisive rhetoric. Faithfulness to Christ means we love and accept each other even as we have been loved and accepted. Violence, even in response to violence, is not part of the Gospel.
Faithfulness to Christ demands more. The faithful Christian response to terrorism is love. The faithful Christian response to terrorism is forgiveness. Anything less, as the Dalai Lama would say, is to be untrue to what we proclaim we believe.
We live in an age when values have changed, and continue to change. It is now acceptable to display boorish and uncivil behavior in public and even get applause for it. Today it is acceptable for public figures and nationally recognized political candidates to spew vindictive and racist remarks without fear of backlash.
I, for one, am tired of the hatred, the bitterness and repulsive rhetoric. I am reminded of the early days of Nazi Germany when Adolf Hitler used the same bombastic invective and appeal to fear to inflame his listeners.
We are better than that. When candidates for the highest office in the United States base their campaigns on fear, on hatred, on racism, on indiscriminate destruction of entire populations, it is time to speak out.
I do not want a President who unabashedly flaunts immoral actions and behavior to appeal to the lowest common denominator. I do not want a leader who uses xenophobia and racial prejudices to appeal to the uneducated.
I may be in a distinct minority, but I remember a time when when such a person would be held up for ridicule and laughed off the stage. That such a clown is now taken seriously is a true indictment of the depths to which our nation has fallen.
If we elect such a man to lead our nation we deserve whatever befalls us.
Normally, I do not think too highly of resolutions and statements issued by boards and other legislative bodies. Words are cheap. I am much more impressed with action. However,I applaud this statement by the World Methodist Council.
I have been in South Africa numerous times and have seen firsthand the violence brought about by irrational xenophobia. I also know and am proud to call Ivan Abrahams, and my friend. I have seen him struggle with this issue when he was Bishop of the Methodist Church of South Africa. He has a true heart for the oppressed, the refugee and the stranger in our midst. He is a man of faith and action.
I have also visited with refugees camped in Methodist Church sanctuaries in the heart of Johannesburg. I have heard their stories and felt their fear.
I have seen the anger and rage directed at these refugees. It is too often incited by those with hidden agendas and those whose motives should be held up for closer inspection. It is manufactured on fear and an appeal to nationalism.
Xenophobia is the fear of the stranger. There’s nothing Christian in such a response. Perfect love casts out fear.
World Methodist Council Issues Statement Against Attacks on Foreigners in South Africa
17 April 2015
Peace March in Durban, South Africa on 16 April 2016.
Photo Credit: KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government
- In the wake of escalating violence against foreign nationals, refugees and asylum seekers in the Republic of South Africa, World Methodist Council representatives express concern and disappointment at these clear violations of human rights. General Secretary Ivan Abrahams and the Social Justice Committee of the World Methodist Council issued this joint statement today condemning the violence and attacks:The World Methodist Council condemns these attacks which so clearly undermine human rights and dignity. We applaud the actions of Methodist family members within the Republic of South Africa who have stood up against these human rights violations. We also welcome the recent statements of President Zuma and senior government officials. We further support the marches and events held to bring awareness to take a stance against such atrocities. We pray that they are successful in continuing to promote initiatives toward peaceful coexistence. We implore the South African government to protect the rights of all people as enshrined in its Constitution. We further call on Methodists and Wesleyans within the neighboring countries of South Africa to stand in solidarity with and aid all those affected by these attacks. We are one human race. Let us all continue to pray and speak out against the injustices throughout our world.