I have I felt at times that someone had to speak truth to “the king,” as the Old Testament prophets did. I saw the political and religious communities quietly accepting behaviors that violate the message of Jesus. Still, I kept quiet, feeling intimidated by the powerful voice of “the king.” I wanted to avoid criticism.
I can stay silent no longer. Our nation is being torn apart by behaviors that violate virtually everything I believe about God’s desire for how people should live together.
This is much more than just a Christian issue. The Muslim Quran and the Jewish Torah contain strong words of counsel about the care of children, concern for the poor, welcome of the stranger and the dignity of every human being. Whether you use Yahweh, Allah or God as the name when referring to the divine presence, the message is the same: God loves all people.
President Trump’s despicable treatment of four female members of Congress is unacceptable. The religious communities of our nation should express our rejection of such language. The statement made by a U.S. senator that these women are Communists who hate America is a lie that broadens the base of sinful degradation of another human being and is not worthy of a national leader.
When will we find the courage to speak truth to power, telling our leaders that this dehumanizing behavior that attacks, degrades and spreads lies about people is not acceptable?
What can we expect of our leaders? Is truthfulness too much to ask for? Just because a person disagrees with you is no basis to ridicule them, spread lies about them or make racist comments. The four members of Congress live in New York, Minnesota, Michigan and Massachusetts and have as much right to live there as I have to live here.
These angry, condemnatory remarks by our political leaders give tacit approval to the hate crimes in a Pittsburgh synagogue and mosques in Queens, N.Y., and Quebec City. Verbal violence often opens the door to physical violence.
I must plead for a renewed commitment to God, Yahweh or Allah that sees “the other” as a fellow human being to be respected and treated with dignity. My Christian faith teaches me to treat others as God has treated me. It calls me to build communities of peace and justice in the name of Jesus, to honor differences in faith or culture by seeing every human being as a person loved by God.
This includes speaking truth to power, daring to tell “the king” that his racial slurs, treatment of children at the U.S.-Mexico border and practice of using fear and division to control the poor and vulnerable among us is unacceptable.
I want my neighbors, who might have a different religious belief or a different skin color or a different political persuasion or a different national origin, to know I am pleased to share a community with them.
So, please: Stop lying. Stop the racial or religious slurs. Stop telling my neighbors they are not welcome. Stop criminalizing people simply because they are different. These behaviors do not represent the values of my faith, nation or community.