In a teleconference last night, Paul Ryan, Republican candidate for Vice-President, said, “the path the president has put us on . . . [is] a dangerous path, it's a path that . . . compromises those values, those Judeo-Christian, western-civilization values that made us such a great and exceptional nation in the first place."
I have a problem, Congressman Ryan, with your characterization of President Obama as a destroyer of “Judeo-Christian western civilization values”. And it’s not a political problem. It’s a religious one. You and I are family – brother and sister, to be precise. So are you and President Obama. Why? Because we’re all Christians.
And here’s the thing:
1. Disagreeing with you does not make one a non-Judeo-Christian - shoot, the Nuns on the Bus (professional Christians, you might say), disagree with you on economic policies. And they disagree out of their faith, not in spite of it.
2. Destroyer of Judeo-Christian values, in the context of the long-standing vitriol, is either (a) most unfortunate or (b) intentional pandering to incipient racism played out in the form of 'he's not [really] a Christian' (translate, he's not 'one of us' - he's a 'Muslim' - which in the US, just as often means 'he has brown skin' as it does anything about one's religious persuasion - and that, not as a compliment. I would almost prefer to believe it was intentional on your part: at least then I would know you understand what's at stake with this kind of exploitation of the language of hate, fear and division. But giving you the benefit of the doubt, I choose to believe that the connection was not obvious to you and was thus unintentional. One of the challenges of being a public speaker, however, is to try to hear our words as others hear them.
3. As another 'professional' Christian, I have to say that you and I disagree on many things, particularly about economics and the role of government when it comes to the least fortunate among us. I am a bit startled to hear you as a fellow Christian characterize my own view as destructive of the very faith I have dedicated my life to trying to follow.
4. Finally, there are MANY things about which I disagree with the President (and Gov. Romney, for that matter). That disagreement does not make either of them bad men, morally flawed, dangerous, or bent on my personal destruction. Whether they are any of those things or not is not for me to say. And what we often forget when we demonize our enemies is the notion of reaping, perhaps best learned as a parent: whatever bad habits we teach our children, they will use against us. So too with public discourse: pandering or indifference in public discourse by the few lowers the bar for the many. Thus unjustified or untrue attacks against you become justified because “well, he said worse”.
People of good faith of all and no political and religious stripes will go to the polls tomorrow. All of us will, I hope, pray and trust, try to exercise our own best judgement in discharging our duty as citizens.
And next Friday, Saturday and Sunday, many of us will resume our places, side by side, in our respective places of worship, in common cause together to worship our God and take what we receive there out into the world.
I guess I'm just trying to remind you that there is no hierarchy among Christians - as St. Paul so eloquently pointed out, all fall [far] short of the glory of God.
To put it more bluntly and to borrow freely from a wise Baptist minister, responding to a man I once knew who was thinking of leaving that particular congregation because he was unhappy with some things, "Well, Bob, whenever you find that perfect church, do me a favor: don't join and spoil it for everybody else."
A little humor and a little humility when making truth claims on behalf of God isn't a bad thing, my brother.