What I Wish They Would Say
In the last many months, I have become hyper-aware of the disparity that exists between what political action a non-profit church can take, and the actual action and words of our church. Furthermore, I am put off by claims that any tax-exempt status could be worth our silence. Across America, churches have been gathering places for political action in the face of injustice for generations; it is a feature of our political system. Churches are tax-exempt in part to protect minority opinions from the government. It was a church, after all, in which Paul Revere hung his lanterns, and Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor before he was an activist.
Our religion should inform our engagement with the world around us. Too often I see people clutch at religious sentiment for a feeling of protection and safety instead of as a beacon or a battle cry. I understand this, but I think a life of faith calls us to more.
Here is the kind of statement I wish our church made all the time, as it organized and helped in causes that further human dignity. I admit, I mourn a little that I and my friends tend to be glad that the church stays out of politics out of a vague sense that the causes the leaders would choose to support would be a poor reflection of our values and use of resources. Still, I call for something better.
Our Dear Family in Faith,
Once in a generation, a nation’s downtrodden, together with their friends and people of good conscience, rise up to say that all is not well in Zion. To be heard by all they must speak loudly.
We are an international church, but today we speak to the United States and hope all countries will hear apply and our words.
Friends, it is the duty of people of faith to walk with and sustain demonstrators who are loudly protesting the frequent slaughter of black and brown folks. We urge you to listen, learn, and exert your influence to further their cause. All are alike before God, but our country is still a work in progress and there is work to be done to ensure equality before the law and systems that came before us.
In countries around the world, White Nationalism is again taking root in public discourse. It is not designed to protect White people, it is designed to enrage us. To White members of the church, we urge you to learn to recognize and always reject white supremacy. Let this be a disqualifying political platform. Do not vote for white nationalists – history teaches us that they bring war and devastation and genocide.
Remember that the earth is richly abundant. Our nation is a promised land, richly blessed, and there is enough here for us and our children and our children’s children’s children. God loves the poor, and nobody comes here without God’s guidance and protection. In the eyes and lives of immigrants and refugees, you will find God. Be generous in giving and in your political action to protect them from systemic abuse and disenfranchisement.
As a church we excel at taking care of our community. We are now faced with a global health crisis. Protect one another. Wear a face covering when you leave your home. Find ways to support your loved ones and community members that are in full cooperation with the best understanding we have of how to fight this serious disease, and know that this understanding will evolve as the Lord reveals new things to those seeking to understand through scientific inquiry. Sometimes entire families, communities, and civilizations die from raging illness. Sometimes they die because the plague has overwhelmed doctors and health supplies. Your first duty is to preserve life, and we encourage you to be courageous, creative and thoughtful in the face of solitude and disruption.
Our strength as children of God lies in our ability to take care of “the least of these”- something we can only do adequately when we work together for a common cause. May your spiritual practices bring you strength as you pursue righteousness. May God’s spirit give you courage, wisdom and clarity. Do justly. Love mercy. Walk with humbleness before God.
Yours in faith,
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
What do you long to hear from your faith leaders? What does your heart need to hear in face of global and personal tumult? How would you like to see the church rise to support human dignity?