I read with interest The Rev. Alan Rudnick?s Voices of Faith piece today (after returning home from a visit to Buffalo to see my wife?s family) titled Different paths to a goal. He was critical of the political message of Franklin Graham (Billy Graham?s son who has taken up his evangelical ministry) whom he quoted as saying ?If we are allowed to go down this road in the path that this president wants us to go down, I think it will be to our peril and to the destruction of the nation.? He also mentions Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary calling the election, ?an evangelical disaster.?
Rev. Rudnick argues that the church should step away from the movement into politics during the last 40 years. That movement into politics was motivated by the belief that ?the way to control morality in our country is by blocking movements in states that try to legalize same sex marriage, fight for prayer to return in the schools and encourage legislation that forbids abortions.? Rather than fight in the political realm to shape cultural morality, Rudnick argues, the way to change people?s morality is by changing their hearts. ?The only way for evangelicals to establish any kind of Kingdom change is to change people from the ground up, not from the top down?Evangelicats must not think we can use the government or politics to change the world. We must work together and meet people face to face?not with protest signs buth with mutual respect to give them God?s message.?
As someone advocating for marriage equality and a woman?s right to control their own reproductive organs, I welcome the call for evangelicals to get out of trying to limit the expression of committed love and force women to bring to term an unwanted fertilized egg. And I agree that meeting people face to face is a better way to persuade them to live moral and ethical lives than through legislation.? Prohibition really didn?t crack the abuse of alcohol nut.
We part company with the call to step away from the political realm. Unitarians and Universalists (Unitarian Universalists since 1961) have been advocates for progressive legislation from before the American Civil War. In the 1840?s and 50?s many of our forbears in our churches struggled with the issue of slavery and found it morally wrong and reprehensible. They became abolitionists and advocated for the end of slavery. That advocacy continued through the Civil Rights movement of the 1960?s and continues today.
The fight for the right for women to vote took root in our churches in the nineteenth century. Susan B. Anthony was a member of the Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY. Unitarian Dorothea Dix advocated for the mentally ill and improving their treatment in state mental facilities. Investigate any liberal social change movement in our society and you?ll find Unitarian Universalist involvement.
Protection of religious freedom and individual freedom are? issues we rally around. Our ministers teach and preach a non-creed based approach to belief that encourages the individual to discover and follow the spiritual path already laid down in their hearts. We think there isn?t one right way to believe. We think many valid paths lead to common universal values that all the major world religions embrace. Values like the inherent worth and dignity of all people, justice, equity and compassion in human relations, the use of the democratic process, the goal of peaceful and tolerant world community, and respect for the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part.
When we advocate for our values in the public square, we see every elected official as a potential ally. We advocate because we believe the shape of society does shape people?s hearts. Discrimination and oppression damages people and damages society. Following Jesus? guidance, as well as Moses, Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius and the Tao along with the great philosophers and sages of every age, we seek to create the best, most moral and ethical society possible built on common values rather than striving to conform society to one set of religious beliefs.
So I support Rev. Rudnick?s work of saving souls for Christ. And I support the rabbi who guides his congregation to be good Jews. And I affirm the work of Bishop Hubbard to guide his people to be good Catholics. May we all strive to help those who are attracted to us to lead good religious lives.
And when it comes time to advocate in the pubic square for our shared values, religious voices are definitely needed to counter the corrosive forces of greed, materialism, exploitation, hatred, and corruption.
Article source: http://blog.timesunion.com/trumbore/mixing-politics-and-religion/1109/