November 08, 2004

From The Pulpit

So, in case you haven't noticed, we've undergone a bit of an upgrade here at Macroscope. Now, you can comment on anything we have to say here, and feel free to e-mail the posts in all their multimedia glory to your friends and neighbors.

And, I'd like to stress the word "we" here because this marks the first in a series of outside columns by my dear friend, Rev. Stephen Andrew Tillett, the Senior pastor at Asbury Broadneck United Methodist Church in Annapolis, MD.



Today, the Rev, an avowed Progressive, talks about the election and faith....

Silent No More
My late grandmother used to have a saying: "Enough is enough and too much smells!" I have been the recipient of numerous articles and commentaries from grieving progressive friends since Tuesday's election. The post mortems are beginning to circulate and there is much hand-wringing over how the Democrats allowed themselves to get punked, yet again, because of a made-for-election-year "issue." Largely because of the gay marriage "issue," John Kerry's loss is being credited to the evangelical religious right who turned out in record numbers in response to their concerns - some would say fears - over the subject.

As a member of the heretofore exceedingly courteous Religious Left, I can no longer be silent and assume that "common sense will prevail." Though I find that the whole right/left, red/blue designation inadequately captures the complexity of this nation called the United States, I will use it, for now, since it is more easily (superficially) understood. The "Religious Right" has crowned themselves as the voice for spiritual people in this country and have sought to position themselves at the very gates of Heaven to determine who gets in and who doesn't - who speaks for God and who doesn't. This is not only ludicrous, but also insulting. No more! The Progressive Religious Left has just as much of a claim to the teachings of Jesus and the Bible as anyone. Indeed, I would argue that it is more Christlike to live as Jesus lived and to try to "love my neighbor as myself" rather than to exclude as many people as I can if their sins are different from mine. (Their Big sins versus my little ones.)

Somehow, according to these folks, homosexuality has made it to the very top of the Lord's hit list of sins and now commands an inordinate amount of attention given the scant attention it receives in Scripture. Let's see what the Bible has to say. Based on my study of the issue, homosexuality is mentioned specifically a grand total of three times in the entire Bible, in Leviticus 18:22 (in the midst of an entire chapter of sexual prohibitions), Leviticus 20:13 and Romans 1:26-27. There are, of course, numerous other verses that refer to sexual immorality, fornication and the like, but these are usually attributed to depraved heterosexual behavior. Interestingly enough, there are over seven hundred prohibitions in Scripture against lying, yet millions of voters came to the polls to keep homosexuals in check while lies and misrepresentations have resulted in the deaths and maimings of several thousand US military personnel and tens of thousands of Iraqis (yes, their deaths count, too!) We are more concerned that a homosexual couple may move into the neighborhood than we are that our children may get sent to the desert to fight a war we started and cannot win. As long as those gays don't move in down the street, we can live with job losses, no health care and trillion dollar deficits. No more!

Some analysts indicate that a significant number of African American voters, spurred by their pastors, voted for George Bush on Tuesday. Rather than voting their hopes, they voted out of fear and voted for the candidate whose record indicates that the policies of his administration are anathema to a great majority of our community. Yet the GOP correctly discerned that African Americans are among the more socially conservative citizens of this nation and astutely drove a make-believe wedge right between them and their own best interests. And now they will have a president for the next four years who will do his best to keep the homosexuals in check, while he appoints judges to the courts of this land who will set us back for a generation. But as long as my gay neighbors can't get married…

Just in case anyone is paying attention, the GOP has mastered the art of manipulating legislation and ballot referenda during election years to "frighten out" (turnout) their constituency. In 2004, that "issue" was same sex marriage. In every other election cycle it is their concern for the sanctity of embryonic life. Apparently, life is precious as long as it is in the womb, but once it hits the light of day, it can be snuffed out by a semi automatic weapon on any street in our great but troubled country because everyone should be able to own as many guns as they want with no limits and no background checks. Life is precious in the womb, but if that life grows to become a retarded adult who commits a crime they don't even understand, they can be executed in one of the new state of the art prisons built for us by our booming Prison Industrial Complex. The Bible says we should care for widows and orphans, but instead we live by the world's non-Biblical credo that "the Lord helps those who help themselves." Embryonic life is precious, but Lord help them if they're born on the wrong side of town, have too much melanin in their skin, dare to want equal pay for equal work or access to credit and home loans at reasonable rates.

I, too, value the sanctity of life. I believe that abortion, as a form of after-the-fact contraception is reprehensible. I also understand that circumstances arise in everyone's life (e.g., rape, incest, or the health of the mother) where it may regrettably be necessary. I just don't think that the State should insert itself between a woman and her doctor. Also, in case you hadn't noticed, women can order pills online from the comfort of their homes that will induce a miscarriage and all the health establishment will be able to do is treat those women when they arrive at the hospital. That horse is out of the corral. As much as we might like to, we will never be able to exert as much control over that issue ever again. I also think it is short sighted to vilify and oppose a candidate over that one, personal issue, when the candidate is right on most of the issues facing our families and our future. No more!

I am a proud member of the Progressive Religious Left, otherwise known as the Body of Christ. I will no longer allow others who practice an intolerant, exclusionary brand of religiosity to be understood to speak for me. It's time we, the silent majority, rise up and allow ourselves to be heard. If we sit back and expect for common sense to prevail without our input, we will continue to reap the same results we always have. "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got!" No more!



Frankly, I couldn't agree more. And, as a guy who's STILL, to this day, angry about the 2000 Florida Recount, I'm sure Rev. Tillett will have alot more to say in the coming weeks. Glad to have him aboard.
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