Midweek Message

LABC Update – Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Jim Hopkins

July 1, 2024

Acting Like We Are Created Equal

 

The 248th celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence provides us an opportunity to consider how we are doing in implementing the central vision of the declaration – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Political and religious leaders who represent Christian Nationalism will be quick to offer, in ways both overt and covert, the assessment that our nation has fallen from the ideal of a conservative Christian theocracy the founders of the nation intended. Inaccurately interpreting both the Bible and the Constitution, they will attempt to advance an agenda that strips away equal rights for the LGBTQ community, non-Christians, women, people of color, immigrants and others. They will speak as if their conservative brand is the only authentic form of Christianity – thus erasing not just non-Christians but also mainline Protestant Christians, progressive Catholics, the Black church tradition, and more.

All of this is, of course, deeply disturbing. All of this, of course, demands a response.

Faithful America defines Christian nationalism as “a political ideology that claims America was founded to be – and should remain – a so called ‘Christian nation,’ despite the clear intent of the Constitution to separate church and state and to honor religious liberty for all.” Dr. Jemar Tisby, public historian, author and cofounder of The Witness: A Black Christian Collective, writes, “White Christian Nationalism is the most urgent threat to democracy and the witness of the Church in the United States today.”

As a pastor, I resonate with the critique offered by The Reverend Nathan Empsall, Faithful America executive director. “Where Christian nationalism spreads QAnon lies, Jesus says the truth shall set us free. Where Christian nationalism incites political violence, Jesus is the Prince of Peace. And where Christian nationalism spreads division and hatred, Jesus calls us to include and love our neighbors – no exceptions.”

Reverend Empsall contrasts the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of Christian nationalism using these polarities:

1. Love vs. Bigotry
2. Peace vs. Political Violence
3. Truth vs. QAnon Conspiracy Theories
4. Community vs. Theocracy
5. Power for all vs. power for ourselves

While this framework can be self-serving, it also points to the essential truth that, almost uniformly, Christian nationalists see faith as a coercive force while others of us see it a community building spirit.

In this regard it is important to note with Faithful America that “Although Jesus taught us to spread the Gospel, he was clear that we should never force it on anyone, telling his disciples in Matthew 10:14 to simply move along when audiences weren’t interested.” Similarly, “In Luke 4:5-8, when Satan tempted Jesus in the desert, he offered Jesus complete political authority – but Jesus refused.”

As we celebrate the Fourth of July, I urge us all to resist the narrative of history, as well as the related political agenda, advanced by Christian Nationalism and to instead embrace and pursue the soaring vision of all of us being created equal, a vision expressive of the values of the diverse faith communities of which many of us are a part.

Today on LABC Zoom –  Bible Study with Pastor Allison 10:30

Online: https://zoom.us/j/8599095914
Dial-in: 1 669 900 9128

Meeting ID: 859 909 5914
Password: 192833

 

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