Note: During the announcements at today’s worship service at Epiphany Episcopal Church, Laurens, SC, I shared the following statement with my people.
My Beloved Sisters and Brothers,
There are moments in our civic life as a nation when events occur that cannot pass without comment. That our political airwaves are filled with bellicose and prejudicial speech coming from the White House, the halls of Congress, and, this past Wednesday, at a presidential political rally in Greenville, North Carolina, is, for me, as a person and, in role, as a pastor and your priest-in-charge, such a moment.
Please know that I do not seek to alter anyone’s political party persuasion or opinion. Rather I offer commentary from what I consider to be the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who, in his life and ministry, centered on the proclamation of the kingdom of God, necessarily engaged and challenged the established cultural, religious, and political order of his day and time.
Though repeatedly, I have shared this with you, I do so again, so, that you will know the ground on which I stand. I believe that God as revealed in Jesus is a God of love and justice; unconditional benevolence and impartiality for all people at all times. As a follower of Jesus, I seek to do and to be love and justice in action with you and with all.
Now, to the political tensions of our day and time…
It is one thing when we challenge and criticize a perspective, a point of view, a position on an issue, or a policy or program to address a prevailing concern. This is an act of freedom. Of thought. Of speech. Of debate and dissent.
It is another thing when we make our challenge or criticism ad hominem, that is, denouncing, denigrating, demonizing the person, persons, or parties who hold contrary views. This is an act of demagoguery, which forsakes rational argument and appeals to human bigotry.
In closing, I pose a question for us to consider: Which of these two embraces, embodies love and justice?
I also make this request of all of us. Our words have power. Power to heal and power to hurt. Power to lift up and power to tear down. Power to include and power to exclude. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, may we always be guided into speech that glorifies God and edifies His people, all of His people.