Christians United Must Fight for Campaign Finance Reform

My Nana taught me that as a Christian it was best to never discuss economics or politics.

My Nana was wrong.

Christians must be discussing politics. Christians must be discussing economics. And Christians most definitely should be discussing the corrupted intersection where economics and politics seem to be meeting these days.

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Capitalism (noun):

an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.

Democracy (noun):

Government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

Most Americans assume that we live within capitalism. After every election, it seems that less and less of us believe we live within a democracy. By very nature of their definitions, capitalism and democracy cannot coexist.

Look at the definition of Democracy and words like “people” and “free” stand out. Look at the definition of Capitalism: “corporations”, “wealth”, “state-owned.”

Democracy and Capitalism are not allies, they are enemies.

In 2010, in the case of Citizen’s United vs. the Federal Elections Committee, The United States Supreme Court held that the First Amendment prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures by a nonprofit corporation.

Many of us were shocked. We were enraged. We were incensed into action.

And as is often the case in politics, we grew tired and four years later, nothing has changed.

We must reignite the flames of righteousness that burn to eliminate those with 1% of the nation’s wealths to purchase election results. We must fight the hypocrisies and lies that hide beneath the thin veil of Super PACs and other loopholes that give political power to the wealthy. However, we mustn’t just fight as citizens, we must fight as Christians.

With the ability to contribute unlimited sums of money under the guises of corporations, those unincorporated get left outside. They in essence lose representation in our democracy

Because they can’t afford it.

It reminds me of the poor people who were unable to enter the Temple of Jerusalem because they could not offered to pay the exchange tax on the offerings they needed to enter the temple. The very place that was set up for them, the very place that they needed to rely upon had turned their back on them. Jesus didn’t stand for it. And neither should we.

It is time to turn these tables over and run the money changers out of our democracy.

As Christians we cannot profess that every individual matters; we cannot proclaim that those most welcome in the realm of Heaven are no longer included in our democracy while we allow the poor, the individuals, and the marginalized to be locked out of our democracy.

Capitalism is that which stands for the corporations. Democracy is that which exists for the protection of the individual.

Let us not let one more election go buy without demanding that we limit the difference in political influence the wealthy have over the poor. Let us make haste to demand that our government be of the people and for the people; not the corporations.

For the Good of the People. For the Good of the individual. For the Good of us all.

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A Tale of Two Christmases

A myth can be a fable or even a lie. And a myth can also be a story or history with religious truth.

As we seek to find the “meaning of Christmas”, we must be clear. Two Christmases exist; each with its own meaning myth.

So, it is important to clarify which Christmas we are celebrating.

In a well-documented 24-hour span a large number of Americans went from expressing their gratitude and bragging about their (over-)consumption of food to waiting in line to snag the deals that will help make room on the shelves for the next of newest and greatest consumerist gods.

While some eat and merrily drink, many others are feeling starved for justice. This Thanksgiving, the CDC estimates that 32,105 will be absent from the Christmas dinner table due to gun-related deaths and in painful contrast, shooter-impersonation video games Far Cry, Assasin’s Creed, Halo, and Call of Duty sold a combined 2,062,760 units THIS WEEK ALONE.

Walmart is discounting their gun selection 20% as a part of their Black Friday sales. Meanwhile, minority communities and those that are alarmed by the lack of justice surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford and so many more unarmed citizens are given plenty of reason to reconsider Black Friday and exactly it might mean of being a black citizen under less-than-equal protection of the law.

Because it is.

In Dell deChant’s book, The Sacred Santa, deChant points out that American consumerism has become its own religion, complete with sacred myths, rituals, and holidays – none bigger than Christmas. Santa Clause and Jesus Christ are not competing demi-Gods despite what Fox News says, instead they are manifestations of two different religions.

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This Advent, America is preparing for two different Christmases. As Christians, we shouldn’t waste our time worrying about which phrase store clerks use to greet their customers and much more energy being conscious of which Advent narrative we are allowing to drive our lives this Christmas season.

Because one narrative will dominate the headlines and saturate our screens while another has the power to speak to the embittered, the infuriated, and those that are desperately seeking, waiting, and working for hope.

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Today, in churches around the world, Christians celebrate Hope Sunday and for those that are waiting for justice, peace, and joy, Hope Sunday comes right on time.

Hope Sunday marks the beginning of a narrative that reminds us that God’s movement that changed the world happened in the dark of night. Hope Sunday marks a journey where God was present not just to the Wise Men and the wealthy but to the poor, the jobless, the undocumented, and the marginalized. Hope Sunday reminds us that when humanity was stumbling and grasping for light, God reached out to humankind in the form of a tiny infant.

While a Black Friday boycott organized in response to the grand jury’s decision to not indict Darren Wilson is reported to have led to an 11% drop in post-Thanksgiving spending, it is also reported that more people shopped on Black Friday than voted in the midterm elections.

This suggests to me that the myth of consumerism is more believable than the Myth that begins the Christian narrative.

But we have the power to influence and perpetuate the truth of whatever Christmas we choose to celebrate. It is time to boldly claim the Christmas that brought power into the margins, light into the darkness, and hope to the abandoned.

Because never before have we so desperately needed the power of Christmas.

And never before have we so desperately needed hope.

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Islamophobia in Such a Time as This

Islamophobia is perpetuated daily in our news cycles, “Christian” dialogues, and everyday conversations. To remain silent on this issue is as hypocritical as it is unchristian.

In political rhetoric and irresponsible news fodder Islam has been associated been blamed as the root of terrorism and Muslims have been made the threat to American Christianity.

ISIS and its potential 31,500 soldiers have been portrayed as being representative of the 1.6 billion Muslims across the world. Christian’s should recognize this injustice and heed Jesus’ words to notice the logs in our own eyes before we become consumed in with the speck in our neighbor’s eyes. (Matthew 7)

ISIS represents .001% of the Muslim population. Christians have enough housekeeping to do within a much greater percentage than .001% to allow our Muslim brothers and sisters to be unfairly represented by this extreme example.

Where there are groups of people, so too there are issues with misrepresentation. Christianity has been linked to bombings, mass violence, lynching and much more. And even on a smaller less significant scale, Christians should be well aware that we face a perception issue as the result of misinterpretation:

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But working and listening towards a more complete understanding of Islam is not the nice think to do, it is the Christian thing to do.

We cannot simultaneously believe that God exists in all of creation and continue minimize or ignore what the Muslim faith experience can offer towards a better understanding of God. We cannot live out our greatest commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves while we not fighting against the stereotypes and lies that are being perpetuated against our brother and sisters.

Christians need to work to push the conversation forward.

While Christians should be seeking collaboration and conversation with Muslims, a greater percentage than .001% of Christians seem to be in denial of Islamic existence. A lack of expressed disapproval of the protests against Muslim prayer in the National Cathedral suggests Christians are choosing to remain silent.

For this reason, I applaud Pope Francis for participating in “Muslim” prayer during his recent trip to Turkey.

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It’s time for you and I to start making faithful displays of solidarity alongside our Islamic brothers and sisters and it might mean that it is time to start getting to KNOW our brothers and sisters. Let us heed the words of wisdom from the book of Esther:

“For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.” (4:14)

Christians need to start working for, fighting for, and embracing that all of humanity shares a sacred bond as God’s creation.

Perhaps no human bond is more sacred than the one shared through prayer. Let us start there. God knows, we could use all the prayer we could get

For such a time as this.

What do you think? How can you and your church work past Islamophobia towards more fruitful sacred relationships?