Wednesday, September 29, 2004

why its painful for me to call myself a 'christian'...

...there are things that i am tired of being identified by when using the word 'christian'... closedmindedness, bigottedness, homophobes, war-supporters, 'an eye for an eye'-ers, fearful escapists... i am weary of those who are representing jesus in these ways... i am weary of it...

read the article below from jim wallis' newsletter... it will hopefully irk you... i remember hearing a friend telling me this a month ago, that liberals were going to ban the bible... nosense, non-freaking-sense...

Republicans say "liberals" will ban the Bible
by Jim Wallis

Imagine this. A political party does a mailing in important states. They accuse the other party of wanting to "ban" the Bible and establish gay marriage. Well, imagine no more. That's what the Republican National Committee has done. I'm not sure even Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson would go this far, but the Republican Party has in its aggressive campaign to make sure its conservative church base votes for George Bush.

To say this is outrageous seems like an understatement. I have never seen such a blatant and dishonest political manipulation of religion by a political party. But the Republicans seem shameless about it. The RNC acknowledged doing the mailings (when another religious group got a copy and circulated it to reporters), but they have yet to apologize for them. Instead, the Republicans admitted the mailing was part of their effort to mobilize religious votes for President Bush.

The mailing includes an image of the Bible labeled "banned" and a photo of a man putting a ring on another man's hand labeled "allowed," and suggests that's exactly what "liberal politicians" would seek to do. Then the good church folks are warned, "This will be Arkansas if you don't vote." A similar mailing was sent in West Virginia. This new Republican campaign in the churches is similar to an earlier effort that asked church volunteers to perform 22 "duties" in this election year, including turning over congregational membership lists to the local Republican Party. That suggestion even offended some of the Republican religious base as a too-partisan intrusion into church life and an attempt to manipulate the faith of voters.

The Charleston Gazette in West Virginia responded to the mailings in an editorial headlined, "Holy Moley! Who concocts this gibberish?" The paper went on to suggest that such behavior on the part of the Republicans could actually alienate swing religious voters and others: "Most Americans see morality more complexly," the paper said. "Many think a higher morality is found in Christ's command to help the needy, prevent war and pursue other humanitarian goals. Churchgoers of this sort aren't likely to believe childish allegations that Democrats want to ban the Bible."

Behind these partisan religious activities lies a fundamental assumption by top Republican operatives, that they OWN religion in America. Sojourners' "God is Not a Republican...or a Democrat" petition and ad campaign has resonated deeply around the country. Christians will be voting for both George Bush and John Kerry in this election, "for reasons deeply rooted in their faith," as the ad says. It also reminds us that all Christian values and ethics cannot simply be reduced to hot-button social issues.

Yet Republicans are not only assuming, they seem to be demanding that religious people vote only one way - their way. What the Republican Party is doing in these mailings is claiming that the religious vote in American belongs only to them and disrespecting the faith of all believers who disagree with their political agenda or candidate. Neither Republicans nor Democrats should be allowed to get away with that.

It also must be said that the Republican disrespect for Christians who disagree with them runs right along racial lines. The members of black churches will be likely be voting overwhelmingly Democratic this election, as they have for many years. If President Bush is being presented as the only moral choice, what exactly is the Republican Party saying about the faith of black Christians? Does the president not know that millions of Christians, including many evangelical Christians, disagree with him on the war in Iraq, on his budget priorities and tax cuts for the wealthy, on his dismal performance in poverty reduction, or on his policies that so negatively impact the environment? What is he saying about their faith with mailings like this one? And are the Republicans also saying that gay marriage is the only issue Christians should be voting on this year?

When I read about the new RNC mailing, my first response was to ask how conservative Republicans can accuse the "liberals" of wanting to ban the Bible when they ignore it altogether on the weighty scriptural matters of social and economic justice or on Jesus' command that Christians be "peacemakers." There should at least be a serious debate in this election about what those biblical teachings mean in relation to Christian voting. But the Republicans apparently don't want any debate about religion and the election. They have just declared themselves the winners.

Well, not so fast. Sojourners and many allies are committed to taking that debate to every corner of the nation during this election season. And you can help. As the candidates begin their debates this week, we say let the debate about religion and the election continue! Here's what you can do this week:

This outrageous, partisan, and manipulative mailing to churches must not be allowed to go unnoticed. And the Republican National Committee must not be allowed to get away with this abuse of religion and disrespect for the faith of believers who disagree with their political agenda. George Bush himself owes the Christian community an apology for this mailing that disrespects the faith of millions of committed Christians.

TAKE ACTION today. Write to Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and write to President Bush. Ask them to apologize and denounce these mailings. Tens of thousands of Christians sending this message to the Republican Party will get noticed and will make a difference. Hold the Republicans accountable for this mailing and ask George Bush to tell them not to manipulate or disrespect religion in this campaign again. Do it today.

go to to take action.

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