Fights Back on Moral Values
Guest column by Dr. Robin Meyers from a speech
he gave at a peace rally at Oklahoma University
I join ranks of those who are angry, because I have watched as the
faith I love has been taken over by fundamentalists who claim to
speak for Jesus, but whose actions are anything but Christian. We've
heard a lot lately about so-called "moral values" as having
swung the election to President Bush. Well, I'm a great believer
in moral values, but we need to have a discussion, all over this
country, about exactly what constitutes a moral value-I mean what
are we talking about? Because we don't get to make them up as we
go along, especially not if we are people of faith. We have an inherited
tradition of what is right and wrong, and moral is as moral does.
Let me give
you just a few of the reasons why I take issue with those in power
who claim moral values are on their side:
start a war on false pretenses, and then act as if your deceptions
are justified because you are doing God's will, and that your critics
are either unpatriotic or lacking in faith, there are some of us
who have given our lives to teaching and preaching the faith who
believe that this is not only not moral, but immoral.
live in a country that has established international rules for waging
a just war, built the United Nations on your own soil to enforce
them, and then arrogantly breaks the very rules you set down for
the rest of the world, you are doing something immoral.
claim that Jesus is the Lord of your life, and yet fail to acknowledge
that your policies ignore his essential teaching, or turn them on
their head (you know, Sermon on the Mount stuff like that we must
never return violence for violence and that those who live by the
sword will die by the sword), you are doing something immoral.
act as if the lives of Iraqi civilians are not as important as the
lives of American soldiers, and refuse to even count them, you are
doing something immoral.
find a way to avoid combat in Vietnam, and then question the patriotism
of someone who volunteered to fight, and came home a hero, you are
doing something immoral.
ignore the fundamental teachings of the gospel, which says that
the way the strong treat the weak is the ultimate ethical test,
by giving tax breaks to the wealthiest among us so the strong will
get stronger and the weak will get weaker, you are doing something
wink at the torture of prisoners, and deprive so-called "enemy
combatants" of the rules of the Geneva Convention, which your
own country helped to establish and insists that other countries
follow, you are doing something immoral.
claim that the world can be divided up into the good guys and the
evil doers, slice up your own nation into those who are with you,
or with the terrorists-and then launch a war which enriches your
own friends and seizes control of the oil to which we are addicted,
instead of helping us to kick the habit, you are doing something
fail to veto a single spending bill, but ask us to pay for a war
with no exit strategy and no end in sight, creating an enormous
deficit that hangs like a great millstone around the necks of our
children, you are doing something immoral.
cause most of the rest of the world to hate a country that was once
the most loved country in the world, and act like it doesn't matter
what others think of us, only what God thinks of you, you have done
use hatred of homosexuals as a wedge issue to turn out record numbers
of evangelical voters, and use the Constitution as a tool of discrimination,
you are doing something immoral.
favor the death penalty, and yet claim to be a follower of Jesus,
who said an eye for an eye was the old way, not the way of the kingdom,
you are doing something immoral.
dismantle countless environmental laws designed to protect the earth
which is God's gift to us all, so that the corporations that bought
you and paid for your favors will make higher profits while our
children breathe dirty air and live in a toxic world, you have done
something immoral. The earth belongs to the Lord, not Halliburton.
claim that our God is bigger than their God, and that our killing
is righteous, while theirs is evil, we have begun to resemble the
enemy we claim to be fighting, and that is immoral. We have met
the enemy, and the enemy is us.
tell people that you intend to run and govern as a "compassionate
conservative," using the word which is the essence of all religious
faith-compassion, and then show no compassion for anyone who disagrees
with you, and no patience with those who cry to you for help, you
are doing something immoral.
talk about Jesus constantly, who was a healer of the sick, but do
nothing to make sure that anyone who is sick can go to see a doctor,
even if she doesn't have a penny in her pocket, you are doing something
put judges on the bench who are racist, and will set women back
a hundred years, and when you surround yourself with preachers who
say gays ought to be killed, you are doing something immoral.
I'm tired of
people thinking that because I'm a Christian, I must be a supporter
of President Bush, or that because I favor civil rights and gay
rights I must not be a person of faith. I'm tired of people saying
that I can't support the troops but oppose the war.
I heard that when I was your age-when the Vietnam war was raging.
We knew that that war was wrong, and you know that this war is wrong-the
only question is how many people are going to die before these make-believe
Christians are removed from power?
This country is bankrupt. The war is morally bankrupt. The claim
of this administration to be Christian is bankrupt. And the only
people who can turn things around are people like you-young people
who are just beginning to wake up to what is happening to them.
It's your country to take back. It's your faith to take back. It's
your future to take back.
Don't be afraid
to speak out. Don't back down when your friends begin to tell you
that the cause is righteous and that the flag should be wrapped
around the cross, while the rest of us keep our mouths shut. Real
Christians take chances for peace. So do real Jews, and real Muslims,
and real Hindus, and real Buddhists--so do all the faith traditions
of the world at their heart believe one thing: life is precious.
Every human being is precious. Arrogance is the opposite of faith.
Greed is the opposite of charity. And believing that one has never
made a mistake is the mark of a deluded man, not a man of faith.
is the greatest failure of the human race-and thus the greatest
failure of faith. There's an old rock and roll song, whose lyrics
say it all: War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.
And what is the dream of the prophets? That we should study war
no more, that we should beat our swords into plowshares and our
spears into pruning hooks. Who would Jesus bomb, indeed? How many
wars does it take to know that too many people have died? What if
they gave a war and nobody came? Maybe one day we will find out.
[Dr. Robin Meyers is Senior Minister of Mayflower
UCC Church of Oklahoma City, and Professor of Rhetoric at Oklahoma
City University. He is a newspaper columnist for the Oklahoma Gazette,
a commentator for NPR, and the author of a new book entitled THE
VIRTUE IN THE VICE: Finding Seven Lively Virtues in the Seven Deadly
Sins, endorsed by Desmond Tutu, and available for Heath Communications
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