To the Editor,
As a rule, I don't write letters to the editors. I am so involved in so many activities that I usually don't make time for this, even when I have strong feeling about a topic.
I recently retired from the active ministry as a pastor after serving communities in Oklahoma for over forty years. During that time, I never endorsed a political candidate or a political party. I did not avoid some controversial topics such as abortion, capital punishment, familial abuse and other societal problems.
But over the last several years I have become so disillusioned about what is being pandered about as "Christian Values", that I actually retired early because I did not think my congregation and others that I knew about were open to actually hear the "Christian Message" or even information about "basic human rights."
The neo-paganism of pop culture I could fight against. Knowing, of course, that a few would listen and many would not. The Prophets in the Old Testament, nor Jesus in the New Testament could not eradicate all sin and evil, so I knew my ministry could be successful even if I did not turn the whole world around.
But in the last few years, many politicians and many religious leaders, and the some in the media have become so rabidly conservative, that I can no longer be associated with their brand of "crazy Christianity".
To make sure that I wasn't going off the deep end, I went back and read all the Prophets of the Old Testament. Their writings are seldom prophesies about the future. Over and over, they use harsh language for the leaders and the wealthy because of their neglect of the poor, the widows, the orphans, the strangers.
I also spent time reading and praying over the message of Jesus in the New Testament. I heard again messages about peace, about really loving and caring for one another. I heard condemnations about the rich using their riches for themselves. One of the strongest messages comes in the final judgment verses (see Matt 25:35-46.) Salvation comes ONLY to those who care for the hungry and thirsty, who welcome strangers, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned.
I guess I was pushed over the edge recently as we went through the first stages of the elections this year.
It was appalling to listen to candidates, seeing who could brag and boast the most about being the authors and prominent advocates for tax cuts. I could hardly believe my ears. They were actually saying, "I am the one responsible for cutting meals for senior citizens. I am the one responsible for firing the teachers of our children. I am the one responsible for removing hundreds of firemen and policemen who protect you and your property."
Then, before God and man, they had the gall to wrap themselves up in the mantel of "super Christian."
And it still goes on. Millions in the US and hundreds of thousands of people in Oklahoma have no health insurance, and the "Christian" politicians brag about going to Washington to destroy the measly little progress which was made on health care this year. (I readily admit it needs a lot of fixing, but to have a plan simply to destroy it and leave all the poor without any health insurance, is an insult to anyone with any Christian values.)
I have really done some soul-searching. I have read and read. I have discussed this with many friends, people from my previous congregations, with other ministers. At times our discussion have become heated.
Finally I went back and looked and the basic tenets or foundations of the two major political parties. At one time or another over the past forty years, my family or I have belonged to both parties. And both of the political parties have a lot of scoundrels both locally and nationally. (Until recently, the Democrats seem to have led in that category.)
The Democratic Party has traditionally been the party of the poor or working class families, often immigrants. They were the leading factor behind women being allowed to vote, civil rights for Blacks and other non-whites, the Persons with Disabilities Act. They have over and over had to protect Social Security and Medicare.
The Republican Party also has traditionally had some very good tenets and policies. This was especially true of fiscal matters. But even here they have undermined themselves. The National Debt stands at about 13 trillion dollars--but OVER 9 TRILLION DOLLARS WAS overspending under Reagan and the two Bush administrations. Republicans have fought Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, civil rights legislation. They do not want to spend tax money on poor or needy people. And they want no REGULATIONS on any business. They don't want to help the workers deep in the coal mines, nor the fishermen in the Gulf. No regulations at all.
Finally, having all these notes in front of me, analyzing them, praying over them, I came to a conclusion that I don't want to have. A conclusion I am afraid to utter. But it is a conclusion that I have to face and have to share. In today's political climate, both locally in Oklahoma and nationally, IT IS WRONG AND IMMORAL TO VOTE FOR THE REPUBLICAN TICKET at this time.