Which group do you belong to?

July 30, 2021

Pastor Freed’s blog, Jack’s Winning Words, once again provided the inspiration for today’s post – “At the end of the day, I’d rather be excluded for who I include, than be included for who I exclude.”  (Eston Williams)

Are you included in groups with labels like bigots, racists, homophobes, or misogamists?  Perhaps you better identify with groups who identify with terms like caring, inclusive, justice  or equality. It is ironic that many of the members of those first groups also claim to be in a group that they call the “moral majority”. They make some claim (indefensible as is may be) to a moral high ground for their exclusionary position. In fact, their position is neither moral nor a majority. It doesn’t take long, once one starts excluding whole classes or groups of people, that you find yourself in the minority.

Another sad truth about taking an exclusionary position in life is that it limits the experience of life and the knowledge and wisdom that can be gleaned from those experiences. Once you confine yourself to the small box that exclusions put you in, you become trapped in that box, just like a mime. Your world closes in around you the more that you exclude others and the experiences that they bring with them. The world can become a lonely, colorless and boring place once you have excluded all of those who, “aren’t like me.”

So, at the end of your day look back and ask yourself, “Did I exclude anyone or any group today?” Then ask why. Was it out of some unfounded fear that you apply to a whole class or group of people?  Was it out of ignorance or misunderstanding? Did you just react to exclude based upon something that you heard or saw somewhere (maybe on a social media site) and just accepted as the truth without thinking about it or investigating it for yourself? How do you rationalize your exclusions? Is it just that- rationalization?

At the root of many decisions to exclude (or avoid) are unfounded and unchallenged fears. Mostly they are fears of the unknown – things or people that you have not experienced before. Perhaps before you start out today, you can pray for the strength and bravery to allow yourself to experience all of the people that you meet today, excluding no one. If you do that, you will soon find the world to be a much more interesting and colorful place, with opinions and points of view on things that you never knew existed. If you can appreciate them and internalize them a whole new realm of knowledge and wisdom will open up to you. You will find that some of the old “truths’ that governed and restricted your life fade away. At the end of that day, you will feel much better about including all those people.

Which group do you want to belong to?

Veto hate…give love a chance

April 3, 2015

From the blog Jack’s Winning Words comes this timely quote –

“We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.”  (Jonathan Swift)

I say timely because of the recent headlines about the hate that is being disguised as opinionatedreligious freedom in several states. There’s nothing that illustrates this little quote more than a bunch of good-ole, bible-thumping, conservative white guys in positions to create laws for the rest of us. They haven’t got enough love to really be called Christians, but they cloak themselves in that title anyway and then proceed to try to legislate life for those “who aren’t like us.”

Much of religion as practiced today by those of good-ole, bible-thumping, conservative white guys is highly hypocritical, espousing the moral high ground while occupying the lowlands of hate, discrimination and exclusion.  Leonard Pitts Jr. wrote a good editorial on the recent spate of so-called religious freedom laws that have been passed in several states lately by their good-ole white guys legislatures. You can read it at –  http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/04/02/indiana-gay-rights/70830076/

His headline is Faith of force and exclusion not the only faith there is. He writes that there was even a law proposed by Sylvia Allen, a conservative female lawmaker out in Arizona, to require church attendance as a way, she thought, to reverse the moral decline that she see in America.

The hypocrisy does not stop at our own doorstep. Many of these same politicians puff themselves up and rail against the atrocities that they see being committed elsewhere in the world in the name of religion; while turning a blind eye to their own human rights
transgressions here at home. The simple fact is that all who trample on others or who promote hate, discrimination and intolerance in the name of their religion are wrong. They fail that simple little test that you see from time to time on those brightly-colored, WWJDrubber wrist bands that have WWJD on them.  If they really believe that Jesus would refuse to serve at a wedding because the couple being married are members of GLBT community then they have failed to understand the teachings of the very bible that they have been thumping all the while. BUT, they spit out in vile retort – “they’re not like us.” To which those on the receiving end might best reply – “thank God for that!”

Having been founded by people who fled to its shores to escape religious persecution, the drafters of America’s founding documents – the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution – went to great pains to craft an environment of principles, rights and laws that insured that religion would not again be used by government against its own exclusioncitizens. Government officials in several states seem to be trying to circumvent those founding intents. Many say that they are trying to return to “old values.” Perhaps they have overshot the mark a bit and returned all the way to the old values that were being imposed on those who sought refuge through escape to what became America. How ironic that they do not see the similarities in the discrimination that they are now trying to foist upon the citizens in the name of religion.

It is also telling about today’s America that economics seems to have a stronger role to play than the religious beliefs of those same legislators. Faced with economic boycotts over their new laws all are trying to backpedal on those laws as fast as they can, all the while defending their positions as defenders of the moral high ground. I’m reminded of the segregationist holdouts in the South during the civil rights movement, the face of Wallace buttonwhich was embodied in George Wallace standing on the steps of a school to deny entry to African-American children. Many of them thumped their bibles and claimed to have some moral right to discriminate against blacks. While most of those angry, good-ole, white guys have passed on; their progeny now stand on the steps of their own fortresses (apparently bakeries and flower shops, now) thumping their bibles and claiming the right to discriminate against a new group of people.

In two days we celebrate the defeat of death for us all by Jesus; perhaps sometime in our lifetimes we will gather to celebrate the defeat of exclusion and discrimination and the victory of love over hate. Maybe not this year; but, we can keep hope alive. WWJD? I think he would have vetoed those laws had he been the governor in any of those states. They certainly have no place in His world or His book. Celebrate the rise of the Son by embracing those around you who are different than us, rather than finding ways to hate them.