Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Sunday, November 28, 2010

CAN REPUBLICANS BE CHRISTIAN?

Christian Republicans ???

Here are basic principles of the Republican Party.
“Republicans emphasize the role of free markets and individual achievement as the primary factors behind economic prosperity. To this end, they favor laissez-faire economics, fiscal conservatism, and the promotion of personal responsibility over welfare programs.
They believe private spending is usually more efficient than government spending. Republicans oppose the estate tax.
The party opposes a government-run single-payer health care system, believing such a system constitutes socialized medicine and is in favor of a personal or employer-based system of insurance, supplemented by Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid, which covers approximately 40% of the poor.[18]The GOP has a mixed record of supporting the historically popular Social Security, Medicare and Medicaidprograms.
Republicans are generally opposed by labor union management and members, and have supported various legislation on the state and federal levels, including right to work legislation and the Taft-Hartley Act, which gives workers the right not to participate in unions, as opposed to a closed shop, which prohibits workers from choosing not to join unions in workplaces. Some Republicans are opposed to increases in the minimum wage, believing that such increases hurt many businesses by forcing them to cut jobs and services, export jobs overseas, and raise the prices of goods to compensate for the decrease in profit.”
-Wikipedia
Can you be a Christian and be a Republican? The Party’s official positions are against health care for all, oppose welfare programs, do not support programs to provide homes for the homeless. Champions of capitalism, Republicans are blind to the fact that laissez-faire capitalism leaves a tremendous wake of poor and hungry people in its desire to make money for corporations and individuals.
One Republican suburban housewife told me she didn’t want to hear another word about the homeless. Another good friend told me that we can give to charity, “not touch the capitalistic system and pray for those sadly left behind.” Another Republican told me that the poor already have medical insurance. They can go to emergency rooms. I suggested ER’s don’t give tests for eyeglasses or glaucoma.
Republicans are against labor unions, as they are seen as interfering with laissez-faire capitalism. Labor unions, however, are one of the means by which poor people can get together and bargain for better wages and safer working conditions. Republicans scoff at the government office for safety and health administration, OSHA, feeling this is government interfering with the free flow of business. The fact that OSHA protects the health and safety of working people is overlooked.
Hispanic and Black children are the fastest-growing group in the United States who are becoming hungry. Republicans are for the “the promotion of personal responsibility over welfare programs.” Hungry children cannot be responsible for getting enough to eat. Welfare programs feed children, big business does not.
Republicans are good people but their values are skewed. Money and property come before people. The capitalistic system must not be tampered with. Some believe when the rich get truly rich and the economy flourishes money will trickle down to the poor and homeless. Experience teaches us that it does not work. Most have made their bundle and do not want to look back or care for those whom they have never met. Few Republicans work in slum neighborhoods, visit the permanently maimed soldiers living out their days in institutions or represent farm laborers fighting injustices foisted on them by greedy farmers.
Churches are full of Republicans. They are generous supporters of churches. Many clergy are members of the Grand Old Party. They are comfortable with the rich, upwardly mobile and in fact their salaries depend on the good will of many Republicans. Republicans give generously to universities, charities, foundations and churches. Many urban Republicans’ social life is dependent on high-ticket social and artistic balls, galas and dinners which give the leftovers from the expenses of the event to eagerly awaiting charities – including churches. Republicans and many of the rich want to choose where their money goes. They want to control how to do good and what the good causes are. That is natural of course.
Republicans and others enjoy the institutional church. They enjoy the traditions, music, and a feel good experience on a Sunday morning. They do not like sermons that talk about politics or the events of the world. They want a comfortable, warm friendly place, to sing the hymns and enjoy good choir music. Both the Presbyterian and Episcopal Churches have been called the Republican Party at prayer. Mormons are the new winners in that category.
One of the reasons main line churches like Presbyterian, Episcopal, Methodist and Lutheran are declining in numbers is because well-off people do hear the gospel of Jesus emphasizing care for the poor and equal rights for minorities. They hear this in the readings from the Bible. This challenge to their conservative values makes them want to leave the comfortable pew to which they had become accustomed. Few preachers dare preach very specifically about the relationship between the Biblical teaching and the values of the Republican party. The other reason they leave is that the sermons and liturgies are so boring.
Now I want to talk about what it means to be a follower of Jesus as opposed to being a member of the institution called church. A follower of Jesus’ focus is on the weakest of all people – children, sick, insane, handicapped and bereaved, the poor and the hungry. A political party which believes in personal responsibility neglecting the weakest to go it alone, cannot be in any way conceived of as Christian. Millions of people in Africa cannot take personal responsibility, go it alone, when all they have are the beggars’ remains from capitalistic free enterprise enriching corrupt politicians.
Followers of Jesus believe in feeding the hungry, providing hospitality to those with no homes, healing the lame, blind and diseased. Christians see these values as the core of following Jesus, whose vision of God’s kingdom was a perfect place where all would be fed and peace would reign. Christians believe, since that kingdom has not come, and then it is our job to work toward relieving of suffering, poverty, hunger and striving for peace in the broken world we live in now.

MATTHEW 5:3

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

LUKE 4:18

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

Luke 27 ‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Matthew 18:22

Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

These values jostle at the heart not only of Republican values but those of the accommodating and institutional church as well.
The followers of Jesus pray with their feet in marches and vigils for peace and justice. In the small conservative town of Andover, MA, a group of people, some Christians, stand every night winter and summer to stand in a vigil for peace and justice.
Traditional church people pray and worship well but are often deaf to what the New Testament is teaching about the rich, problems of worshipping money and the plight of the poor and sick. I heard a sermon recently in which the preacher said that Jesus was not really against the rich. He went on to say how many rich people in his church were doing well in the community. I’d call it putting band-aids on gushing diseases. He never once suggested the rich could change the rules and laws which keep the rich richer and the poor poorer. I guess we know who pays his salary.
Should the radical followers of Jesus leave the church and found another? No, such a group will soon become an institution. Followers of Jesus remain in the church, do their work, and pressure the institution to be more fully followers of Jesus rather than reflecting the values of conventional society.
Should Republicans leave the church? No. Stay in, the church needs your money. (I am a beneficiary of the Church Pension Fund, a very wealthy and conservative fund probably managed by Republican and conservative business people since its founding by J.P. Morgan.) The followers of Jesus can still keep working on you to follow Jesus more radically. We can do this best if you are in the church.
One teacher puts it this way. “The majority perspective in church and society assumes that by wealth power, organization or hard work we can get things to turn out the way we want…. A minority perspective seeks to embody and witness to the way of Jesus, but without embracing worldly power, wealth or influence. A minority church uses imagination and learns to survive over the long haul.”
Republicans are good and decent people, but the party to which they belong comes nowhere near reflecting the work of Jesus in the world. The party platform, goals and purposes are antithetical to the heart of the gospel of Jesus. Republican church members should be clear that their party and the teachings of Jesus are in radical opposition to each other.
Luke 1
My soul doth magnify the Lord….
He hath put down the mighty from their seat
And hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things
And the rich he hath sent empty away.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

THE HELP - Ann Appreciation

I really enjoyed The Help by Kathryn Stockett published by Putnam in 2009. The story of black women who were the hired help of white women in the 1960s in Jackson Mississippi was told with humor, sadness, tension and excitement. The cruelty of the white people and the cornered docility of the black people made for a disturbing experience that drove home all the more the need for the changes in the laws.

Legal discrimination against black people ended finally in 1966 under President Lyndon Johnson. I hope you and many people will read this book to get a sense of what black women suffered during our own lifetimes. Though it is against the law to discriminate in the south, many blacks are held down by the social mores.