Sunday, December 6, 2015

Standing against the tide of fear and hatred

I typically don't discuss political and controversial topics on this blog, but once and awhile I find myself unable to remain quiet. I wish I had the time to discuss this particular topic in length, but since I do not, I will share an article written by Rachel Held Evans, as her heart and thoughts echo my own. This particular piece was written in response to a statement by the president of an "evangelic college" in the U.S.
"As you've probably heard, the president of Liberty University, one of the largest and most influential evangelical colleges in the United States, gave a speech this week, to the cheers of thousands of students, encouraging everyone in the LU community to arm themselves "so we could end those Muslims before they walk in.” "Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here,” he said. Okay, so let's be clear about two things: 1) We like to think that genocide is something that is committed by other people in other countries - that it could never happen here. But how do genocides begin? With tribalism, fear, and dehumanization. This is just the sort of rhetoric that inspires that kind of violence and it should be unequivocally condemned by all Americans, Christian or otherwise. The evangelical community will continue to lose its credibility if it insists it is simply abiding by the "clear teachings of Scripture" when it comes to opposing LGBT civil rights (based on a few obscure & debatable texts), for example, while simultaneously ignoring/explaining away everything Jesus taught about loving enemies and welcoming the stranger - prevalent themes throughout the New Testament. The world sees that inconsistency for what it is: hypocrisy. Similarly, all those calls for "religious freedom" during the summer ring pretty hollow when some of the same leaders call for shutting down mosques, turning away refugees based on their faith, creating databases to track Muslims, and arming Christians to "end" Muslims. If you only support religious freedom for people of your own faith and conviction, then you don't actually support religious freedom. And if you consider getting wished "happy holidays" religious persecution, but threatening Muslims with death acceptable, you are damaging the reputation of the Church and of Christ. Those of us who identify as Christians but oppose racism and Islamaphobia have an obligation to speak up to let Christian leaders know that, while we can disagree on various political and theological issues with grace and conviction, hateful rhetoric with potentially violent consequences will not be tolerated but met will calls for repentance.  This Advent seems darker than most. Our country seems overridden by hysteria, hate, racism, and fear, and I don't know what to do. Almighty God, give all of us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility..." - Rachel Held Evans
I could not agree more.
We must stand against this tide of fear and hatred. Our mandate is to love, extend grace, and give people hope. When I first saw the photo of the young Syrian boy that washed to shore in Turkey, I found myself sobbing on my keyboard, asking "Lord what can I do"? My heart was broken for that family, that nation, for people that are so desperate that the  threat of dying at sea was better than facing the terror their homeland. I could imagine their terror, fear and anxiety. We have to imagine ourselves in people's shoes sometimes, not only because it helps us feel compassion but because it also motivates us to take action. We cannot remain idle when we have so much to give. I encourage you to find a church or organization that is sponsoring a family and partner with them. I have included a link to the Neighborhood Church here in my hometown of Nanaimo if you would like to do so.

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