Over a year ago, I invited my flock to join a new political party. I named it the Disgusted Party. My party was designed to give anybody who is sick and tired of those who are running our country a new political home. Down with the Democrats! Down with the Republicans! Re-register to vote as card-carrying members of the Disgusted Party! God bless America!
I was just kidding, but I was surprised by the number of people who wished that I wasn’t! I guess my little joke hit a nerve. Since the formation of the Disgusted Party, disillusionment has grown even more pervasive as those who pretend to lead us continue to bicker like spoiled, little children. (Oops! Sorry kids! You actually do a better job than our leaders in tackling the issues that are keeping our world from becoming a better place!)
This week, however, a little bit of my faith has been restored. When Indiana passed a potentially discriminatory Freedom of Religion Act and Arkansas threatened to follow Indiana’s lead, good people, responsible businesses and non-profits as well as many of our more enlightened political leaders took notice and shouted, “No!” A massive groundswell of disgust and anger sent the Governors of those two states running for cover! They thought they could appease their “base” by signing such a law, only to get spanked by a massive majority of Americans from across the political and religious spectrums who refused to allow members of the Gay community to be reduced to second-class citizens.
Most Americans do not understand why we need such laws. Doesn’t our Constitution protect religious liberty? Nevertheless, at least the chastened political crazies in Indiana and Arkansas passed amendments to their Freedom of Religion Acts. These amendments prohibited discrimination against any of our people. Thank God so many of our fellow citizens stood up and insisted that the unalienable right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” must never be compromised!
The events of the past week produced an interesting back story. They brought into the light of public scrutiny the all-out theological war raging between two brands of Christianity. Sides have been drawn for a long time. Thanks, however, to the events in Indiana, some different Christians voices are now being heard. These voices have been drowned out by the judgmental Christian voices that dominated the religious chatter in the media for years. The battle revolves around a very simple question, “What did Jesus mean when he said, ‘For God so loved the world…?’”
On one side are Christians who promote discriminatory laws like Indiana’s Freedom of Religion Act. These Christian fringe-groups are doing all in their power to halt the progress of Gay rights in this country. They believe that homosexuality is a sin and that members of the Gay community have fallen out of favor with God. They not only endeavor to deny the unalienable right of “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” to those who do not conform to their standards, but they also deny the sacred worth of anyone who does not strictly adhere to their set of beliefs. That’s one side.
Pope Francis represents the best of the other side. On Holy Thursday, the Pope went to Rome’s largest prison, humbly knelt down and washed the feet of 6 men, 6 women from a nearby detention center and an inmate’s son. As the Boston Globe reported, the Pope has “revolutionized the Holy Thursday foot washing ceremony by performing it on women and non-Catholics and by traveling to detention centers and facilities for the sick. In his message delivered in the prison chapel, the Pope sought to give the inmates hope, telling them that Jesus loved them to the point of giving his life for each and every one of them. ‘He did it for you, for you, for you, for me,’ he said pointing to the inmates. ‘For every one who has a first and last name. Because his love is personal.’”
Which side do you think better reflects a God who loves the whole world? I stand with the Pope! I love you Pope Francis! God’s love is PERSONAL! It is extended to EVERYBODY “who has a first and last name!”
If you stand with the POPE (and me), vote “YES” by liking this post or by leaving “YES” as a comment on my blog. It’s time for the message of God’s personal love for all the world to go viral!
John E. Holt, Cotuit, Massachusetts