Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Minister Fights Back on Moral Values

You've probably seen this before, but it's worth re-reading. And Meyers now has a great new book out called "Why the Christian Right Is Wrong," which is an expansion of this speech.

Dr. Robin Meyers
Oklahoma University
November 14, 2004


As some of you know, I am minister of Mayflower Congregational Church in
Oklahoma City, an Open and Affirming, Peace and Justice church in
northwest Oklahoma City, and professor of Rhetoric at Oklahoma City
University.

But you would most likely have encountered me on the pages of the
Oklahoma Gazette, where I have been a columnist for six years, and hold
the record for the most number of angry letters to the editor.
Tonight, I join ranks of those who are angry, because I have watched as
the faith I love has been taken over by fundamentalists who claim to
speak for Jesus, but whose actions are anything but Christian.
We've heard a lot lately about so-called "moral values" as having swung
the election to President Bush. Well, I'm a great believer in moral
values, but we need to have a discussion, all over this country, about
exactly what constitutes a moral value -- I mean what are we talking
about?

Because we don't get to make them up as we go along, especially not if
we are people of faith. We have an inherited tradition of what is right
and wrong, and moral is as moral does. Let me give you just a few of the
reasons why I take issue with those in power who claim moral values are
on their side:

-- When you start a war on false pretenses, and then act as if your
deceptions are justified because you are doing God's will, and that your
critics are either unpatriotic or lacking in faith, there are some of us
who have given our lives to teaching and preaching the faith who believe
that this is not only not moral, but immoral.

-- When you live in a country that has established international rules
for waging a just war, build the United Nations on your own soil to
enforce them, and then arrogantly break the very rules you set down for
the rest of the world, you are doing something immoral.

-- When you claim that Jesus is the Lord of your life, and yet fail to
acknowledge that your policies ignore his essential teaching, or turn
them on their head (you know, Sermon on the Mount stuff like that we
must never return violence for violence and that those who live by the
sword will die by the sword), you are doing something immoral.

-- When you act as if the lives of Iraqi civilians are not as important
as the lives of American soldiers, and refuse to even count them, you
are doing something immoral.

-- When you find a way to avoid combat in Vietnam, and then question the
patriotism of someone who volunteered to fight, and came home a hero,
you are doing something immoral.

-- When you ignore the fundamental teachings of the gospel, which says
that the way the strong treat the weak is the ultimate ethical test, by
giving tax breaks to the wealthiest among us so the strong will get
stronger and the weak will get weaker, you are doing something immoral.

-- When you wink at the torture of prisoners, and deprive so-called
"enemy combatants" of the rules of the Geneva convention, which your own
country helped to establish and insists that other countries follow, you
are doing something immoral.

-- When you claim that the world can be divided up into the good guys
and the evil doers, slice up your own nation into those who are with
you, or with the terrorists -- and then launch a war which enriches your
own friends and seizes control of the oil to which we are addicted,
instead of helping us to kick the habit, you are doing something immoral.

-- When you fail to veto a single spending bill, but ask us to pay for a
war with no exit strategy and no end in sight, creating an enormous
deficit that hangs like a great millstone around the necks of our
children, you are doing something immoral.

-- When you cause most of the rest of the world to hate a country that
was once the most loved country in the world, and act like it doesn't
matter what others think of us, only what God thinks of you, you have
done something immoral.

-- When you use hatred of homosexuals as a wedge issue to turn out
record numbers of evangelical voters, and use the Constitution as a tool
of discrimination, you are doing something immoral.

-- When you favor the death penalty, and yet claim to be a follower of
Jesus, who said an eye for an eye was the old way, not the way of the
kingdom, you are doing something immoral.

-- When you dismantle countless environmental laws designed to protect
the earth which is God's gift to us all, so that the corporations that
bought you and paid for your favors will make higher profits while our
children breathe dirty air and live in a toxic world, you have done
something immoral. The earth belongs to the Lord, not Halliburton.

-- When you claim that our God is bigger than their God, and that our
killing is righteous, while theirs is evil, we have begun to resemble
the enemy we claim to be fighting, and that is immoral. We have met the
enemy, and the enemy is us.

-- When you tell people that you intend to run and govern as a
"compassionate conservative," using the word which is the essence of all
religious faith-compassion, and then show no compassion for anyone who
disagrees with you, and no patience with those who cry to you for help,
you are doing something immoral.

-- When you talk about Jesus constantly, who was a healer of the sick,
but do nothing to make sure that anyone who is sick can go to see a
doctor, even if she doesn't have a penny in her pocket, you are doing
something immoral.

-- When you put judges on the bench who are racist, and will set women
back a hundred years, and when you surround yourself with preachers who
say gays ought to be killed, you are doing something immoral.

I'm tired of people thinking that because I'm a Christian, I must be a
supporter of President Bush, or that because I favor civil rights and
gay rights I must not be a person of faith. I'm tired of people saying
that I can't support the troops but oppose the war.

-- I heard that when I was your age, when the Vietnam war was raging.
We knew that that war was wrong, and you know that this war is
wrong--the only question is how many people are going to die before
these make-believe Christians are removed from power?

This country is bankrupt. The war is morally bankrupt. The claim of this
administration to be Christian is bankrupt. And the only people who can
turn things around are people like you--young people who are just
beginning to wake up to what is happening to them. It's your country to
take back. It's your faith to take back. It's your future to take back.

Don't be afraid to speak out. Don't back down when your friends begin
to tell you that the cause is righteous and that the flag should be
wrapped around the cross, while the rest of us keep our mouths shut.
Real Christians take chances for peace. So do real Jews, and real
Muslims, and real Hindus, and real Buddhists--so do all the faith
traditions of the world at their heart believe one thing: life is
precious. Every human being is precious. Arrogance is the opposite of
faith. Greed is the opposite of charity. And believing that one has
never made a mistake is the mark of a deluded man, not a man of faith.

And war -- war is the greatest failure of the human race -- and thus the
greatest failure of faith.

There's an old rock and roll song, whose lyrics say it all: War, what is
it good for? absolutely nothing.

And what is the dream of the prophets? That we should study war no
more, that we should beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into
pruning hooks. Who would Jesus bomb, indeed? How many wars does it take
to know that too many people have died? What if they gave a war and
nobody came? Maybe one day we will find out.

1 Comments:

At 3:36 PM, Blogger Paul Decelles said...

Thanks for posting this article. Her in Kansas we progressives need a bit of a boost. Especially given the double whammy of Fred Phelps (who picketed a funeral I was at this morning) and the fundamentalist Board of Education.

 

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