Christian Witness, Politics

No Silent Assent to Injustice


No, we cannot give silent assent to injustice.

Many say that President-elect Donald Trump won, in part, because he gained the favor of evangelicals in the United States. Tragically, these evangelicals sold out, bought into a “fake gospel” of racism, bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia and divisiveness. In so doing, they sacrificed the justice and righteousness of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I was reminded of that in a beautiful sermon preached this Christmas Eve by Bishop Thabo Makgoba, head of the Anglican Church. He eloquently served notice with his stirring words spoken to the faithful gathered for midnight mass in Cape Town, South Africa’s George’s Cathedral. He draws on his childhood, the example of Walter Sisulu, and God’s Word to explain why religious leaders have a critical role to play in addressing a nation at war with itself.

He also had a forthright message for President Jacob Zuma who has called on churches to stay out of politics.

“We have rejected President Zuma’s comments and have told him very firmly: ‘NO, Mr President, we will not refrain from engagement in the political terrain. Our people live there, work there, suffer, cry and struggle there. We live there too, and cannot and will not stop commenting or acting on what we see and what, in our opinion, is unjust, corrupt and unacceptable to God’s high standards of sacrificial love.’,

As people of faith, we must also speak out against the destructive policies of President-elect Donald Trump.

“No, Mr President-elect, we cannot and will not stop commenting or acting on what we see and what, in our opinion, is unjust, corrupt and unacceptable to God’s high standards.”


Grace, grief, healing, Politics



Day two of grief and confusion. Day two of desperately seeking grace in the midst of grief. Day two of mourning a deeply personal loss.

It was a stunning upset, leaving us with President-elect Donald J. Trump. Despondency barely describes what I’m feeling. Fear may be even more descriptive. I do not feel despondent over being on the losing side of the election. For me, it is not about winning or losing. I do not feel anger or resentment against my brothers and sisters who voted for Trump.

But I do feel disenfranchised in my own country. I feel like I’m a part of a country I don’t understand. I feel like my hopes and dreams are no longer important. I feel like there is a powerful leader over me who will crush my dreams without a thought. I feel like the ground beneath me is shaking. Yesterday I read these words written by my friend, Julie Pennington-Russell.

In 1952, at the threshold of the Cold War, Harry Emerson Fosdick spoke to students and faculty at the Pacific School of Religion. After acknowledging the uncertainty and chaos in the world at that time, he spoke these now-famous words: “The highest use of a shaken time is to discover the unshakable.”

So this, for me, is a shaken time. I feel a cloud of uncertainty and chaos. I fear the days ahead. I am grieving, yet looking for a smidgen of grace in it all. That’s all I can do. And I lean into the encouraging words of Bishop Steven Charleston.

Now comes the hard part. As this new day dawns, joyful for some, sad for others, we face a single question: how will we walk together when our paths seem so different? There is a word for it. Grace. May we have the grace to be humble in victory and hopeful in defeat. May we have the grace to overcome our fears. This is the hard part, the time of seeking the common good, not for ourselves alone, but for those younger lives watching us. May our first step be made in prayer, spoken in different ways but with a shared appeal: give us your grace, dear God, to care more for one another than for winning.

– Bishop Steven Charleston

Politics, Prayer

Losing Heart


What does it feel like to lose? How many tears does it take to begin to heal the pain?

I just listened to Hillary Clinton’s concession speech. It was a remarkable testament to all that is good about Hillary Clinton. She is truly a public servant, and she will not stop her efforts to make our country a stronger, kinder place.

I literally grieve this loss. I fear for our country. I fear for our brothers and sisters who fear deportation. I fear for women who have felt disfranchisement and disrespect. I fear for the millions of people who are benefitting from the Affordable Care Act. I fear about our relations with foreign nations. I fear for all of us.

Still, we must never give up on our country. We must remain involved in the political process and we must pray for our nation as we have never prayed before.

Most of all today, I pray for Hillary. I celebrate her life and give thanks for her many decades of service. And I will always remember the closing words of her speech from the sixth chapter of Galatians.

“So let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.”

May God continue to bless Hillary Clinton and may God bless and protect this nation.

Politics, Prayer

A Prayer in the Shadow of the Presidential Election


All knowing God,

We come to you in this season covered with the shadows of this presidential election. We come to you contemplating our choice. We are concerned about our lives, concerned about our nation.

We hope for a bright future, yet we have wavering confidence in the days ahead of us. It feels important that we pray about our democracy, about the the presidential election that will so profoundly affect our lives. Remind us that above our role as citizens is our role as your people.

We pray for our brothers and sisters who have felt disenfranchised by the hurtful words and actions of Donald Trump, who has attacked  women, immigrants, Latino and African American citizens, persons who are disabled, Muslim Americans, and many others.

Grant us a sense of unity, not divisiveness. Teach us to clasp hands in love and respect and to move forward together.

When we exercise our right to vote in this free and fair election, help us to remember who we are as people of faith. Grant us divine wisdom. Give us holy guidance. Give us hearts that act out of love not hate, hope not despair.

We ask you, God, to walk beside us and to lead us in the path of righteousness.

Cover us with your grace and give us wisdom and courage for the living of these days.


Politics, Prayer



All of us are enduring this season of our presidential campaign with a level of angst. Psychologist have written about the stress that we are experiencing. Some people are turning off their televisions in an attempt to escape the divisive language and incessant negative dialogue.

One thing is clear to me: this is a time for prayer, prayer that our nation will find its way to serenity, calmness and unity. I would like to share with you such a prayer, actually the text of the hymn, “O God of Every Time and Place.”

The words describe a people with “downcast eyes, tight, sullen and afraid.” Yet the hymn moves toward hope for divine rebirth.

O God of every time and place,
Prevail among us too;
Within the city that we love,
Its promise to renew,
Our people move with downcast eyes,
Tight, sullen and afraid;
Surprise us with Thy joy divine,
For we would be remade.

Grant us, O God, who labor here
Within this throbbing maze,
A forward-looking, saving hope
To galvanize our days.
Let Christ, who loved Jerusalem,
And wept its sins to mourn,
Make just our laws and pure our hearts;
So shall we be reborn.

Ernest T. Campbell, 1971

I am confident that, as a people, we will get beyond these days. I am confident that our democracy will continue to shine throughout the world as a beacon of hope. I am confident that, when all the harsh, harmful words have faded away, we will be reborn.

I am confident because of the God who gives us strength, resilience and abiding grace.

Freedom, Hope, Politics

The Moment to Decide


During every presidential campaign, there is a moment to decide. We listen to plans and platforms, we read all we can, we assess the candidates’ character and experience, and then we make a very important decision.

But this presidential campaign is a bit like a street fight, where absolutely nothing is over the line, no attack is too nasty or too baseless. The political rancour is disconcerting. We much prefer harmony, unity and mutual respect. But in this political season, we are experiencing divisiveness and a lack of respect. Families are split along political lines. Relationships and friendships are strained. We are not the people we want to be. We want to be a people who revere our country, who pledge our allegiance, who get a catch in our throats when we stand before our “star-spangled banner.”

This post is not meant to criticize any specific candidate or ideology. Instead, it is a call to each of us, asking us to call forth our better selves as we choose which candidates we will support. As we have throughout our history, we have the power to decide the kind of people we will be. We can choose between division and harmony, mean-spiritedness and kindness. We can choose higher ground. Not only can we choose when exercising our vote, we can make a choice everyday to be a uniter, a maker of peace, an ambassador for justice. In spite of the discord of this political season, we can choose what is good over what is harmful.

The words of a great hymn are worth pondering during this critical moment in our nation. James Russell Lowell wrote the text of the hymn “Once To Every Man and Nation.” The words speak of defending truth in the face of falsehood. That the words were written in 1845 illustrates how history repeats itself. I include two of the stanzas of that powerful hymn.

Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.

Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.

Indeed, it can seem that evil is prospering and everything we once held as truth is dismissed. But as the poet said, “once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide.” And that choice does go by forever.

May God guide us in our decisions and lead us all to choose wisely.

Listen to the hymn at this link:


Not Enemies but Friends


Donald Trump crossed the line of decency when he referred to a possible violent action toward Hillary Clinton by “Second Amendment people.” In the eloquent words of Dan Rather . . .

No trying-to-be objective and fair journalist, no citizen who cares about the country and its future can ignore what Donald Trump said today. When he suggested that “The Second Amendment People” can stop Hillary Clinton he crossed a line with dangerous potential. By any objective analysis, this is a new low and unprecedented in the history of American presidential politics. This is no longer about policy, civility, decency or even temperament. This is a direct threat of violence against a political rival. It is not just against the norms of American politics, it raises a serious question of whether it is against the law. If any other citizen had said this about a Presidential candidate, would the Secret Service be investigating?

Dan Rather is correct when he says that “we are a democratic republic governed by the rule of law. We are an honest, fair and decent people.”

In trying to come to terms with this discouraging development, Dan Rather summons our greatest political poet, Abraham Lincoln, for perspective:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Lincoln used these stirring words to end his First Inaugural Address. It was the eve of the Civil War and sadly his call for sanity, cohesion and peace was met with horrific violence that almost left our precious Union asunder. We cannot let that happen again.

Dan Rather, you are spot on! Must we let this political race make us enemies? Or can we protect the sacredness of friendship and unity? May God grant us the will to do that.

Freedom, Hope, Politics

God Bless Us Everyone


We are, it seems, in a season of discontent, an often vitriolic presidential campaign that threatens to divide us. Even in my own family, there is strong disagreement on the merits of the presidential candidates. There is no shortage of name-calling in virtually every news report.

We are better than that. At our core, we long for the same freedoms. Our best selves want a bright and new day of unity in our country. We want the sun to rise on fresh hope and better tomorrows. We desire to live out the Scripture that admonishes us to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.

I want to share with you the eloquent and inspiring words spoken by the Rev. Dr. William Barber, II on Thursday night at the Democratic National Convention:

I say to you tonight, there are some issues that are not left versus right, liberal versus conservative, they are right versus wrong. We need to embrace our deepest moral values and push for a revival of the heart of our democracy . . .

When we love the Jewish child and the Palestinian child, the Muslim and the Christian and the Hindu and the Buddhist and those who have no faith but they love this nation, we are reviving the heart of our democracy. . .

We must shock this nation with the power of love. We must shock this nation with the power of mercy. We must shock this nation and fight for justice for all. We can’t give up on the heart of our democracy, not now, not ever!

May God guide all of us as we exercise our right to speak and to vote. May God give us an extra measure of respect when we don’t agree. May respectful dialogue replace name-calling and vitriolic speech. May we emerge in November as a people united and determined to be the best we can be. God bless us everyone. And God bless America.


Where Freedom Lives


What a time for those of us who are interested in politics! It isn’t just about amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties. Not this time!

It isn’t that we are so focused so much on a specific outcome, victory for a particular party. It is more that we are interested in the candidates, marking every move, every speech, watching for signs that reveal their true character. We look for sincerity in public service. We look for compassion in serving the people. We look for knowledge and wisdom. We look for maturity and experience. We look for the man or woman who has at heart the best interest of our country.

Often what we find is rancor, insults, divisiveness, even hate speech. We find self-serving individuals who lust for the power of elected office. We find persons devoid of high standards and ethical views. We find ordinary candidates who seldom rise above themselves to reach greatness.

It is fair to say, I think, that most Americans long for a president that sincerely desires to serve the people, and who will do so with integrity. As for me, I am appalled, concerned and disappointed to hear so much language of hate and exclusion. I am disappointed to observe a land divided and fractured. And I am most disappointed when certain presidential candidates cause divisiveness to have its way in America.

It is so important that we sincerely care about what goes on around us. It is important that we do not turn a blind eye to the rhetoric that holds the power to destroy us. It is important that we are engaged citizens, working, speaking out and praying for what is best for our country.

“Remember, it didn’t start with gas chambers. It started with politicians dividing the people with ‘us vs. them.’ It started with intolerance and hate speech and when people stopped caring, became desensitized, and turned a blind eye.” ~ Andi Shenker Saidowitz

With eyes wide open, with a heart that cares deeply for our right to freedom, with hands at work to help preserve all that is good about America, we move forward with hope and with faith in our forever destiny. We move forward in love for the country that nurtures us. We long for the place where freedom lives and where we live in the light of freedom. We labor to preserve it in all the ways we are able. That is how we cling to our legacy.

“When an American says that she loves her country, she means not only that she loves the New England hills, the prairies glistening in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains, and the sea. She means that she loves an inner air, an inner light in which freedom lives and in which a person can draw the breath of self-respect.” ~ Adlai Stevenson (paraphrased)