For some time I have been caught in a tension. On the one hand I feel compelled to raise a similar prophetic voice on the churches syncretism with the Republican Party. I want to name the injustices I feel they implicitly or explicitly condone and sometimes even advocate for. But at the same time I recognize that true reconciliation can only be found by people willing to dialog with respect and nuance.
Even while I have moved to the left, I continue to see the wisdom in some aspects of a more conservative approach.
This tension was illustrated for me when I watched the Jackson's video which was posted by a friend on facebook yesterday. When I initially watched it I thought it was one-sided and manipulative. It looked to me like Jackson was using his position as a pastor and his spiritual authority for political gains. That is immoral. I still think the video is possibly manipulative, but some friends pointed out that the man probably has the spiritual and relational authority to say what he said, at least for the audience he knows best, his black church. If placed in the proper context, his words seem somewhat acceptable.
At the same time I thought, what if you flipped the script? Does the tenor of what he said still hold true from an anti right-wing perspective? Does what he said become appropriate if it comports with my personal politics? Or does both a right wing critique and a left wing critique of this type fall flat?
With that in mind, I carefully listened to the video word by word and wrote a left-wing mirror image of what was said. It appears below.
I both do and do not agree with what I have written. I am torn. Do I embrace a radicle version of the Christian faith that leans well to the left? I have certainly rejected much in Christian culture that leans to the right. But for some reason I can't quite embrace the left. I would like to think that I prefer to take a more nuanced road, a more respectful road. But is that just a lack of commitment? An inability to sacrifice? Might what I have to say below be true?
What bothers and intrigues me is that I am compelled both to fight and make peace. For those that take a partisan approach, I have some partisan answers. For those that use Bible verses to judge others, I have some Bible verses in mind. But I know that when I do, it is not quite right. Often, because I lack humility.
As Pastor Tim Keller discusses here, Jesus refuses political complacency, political simplicity, and political primacy. We should too, and that is the approach I prefer, except when I don't.
I will say that if we are going to go down the road outlined in the video, there is a corollary to what was stated. When I hear someone like Jackson make those type of statements, I am not inclined to back down from the fight. I am inclined to double down. The question is, should I.
Below is a near verbatim transcript of Jackson's video with a few changes. The best way to read what follows is while listening to the video. Judge for yourself if what either Jackson or I said ring true.
My name is David Best. I am a Christian, a law student, and former pastor, with a message to Christian's in the white, evangelical, suburban community. It is time to end the slavish devotion to the Republican Party. They have insulted us, used us, and manipulated us. They have saturated the Evangelical community with ridiculous lies--unless we support the Republican Party we will lose our religious freedom, we will be robbed of our voting rights, Christmas and Easter holiday's will be repealed--they think we are stupid, and that these lies will hold us captive, while they violate everything we believe as Christians. The Republican party has created an unholy alliance between certain so called Evangelical leaders, and the military industrial complex, big banks, big oil, cutting taxes, and a general consumerism and individualism--which has killed Evangelical babies by the tens of millions, some while serving in the military, and others who have lost their soul in a suburban culture of excess and greed. This culture of greed and largess has been far more lethal to Evangelical lives (spiritually and literally) than the Taliban ever was. And the Republican party and some of their Evangelical Leaders are partners in this genocide.
The Republican Party has equated being a good Christian with being a "True American." Patriotism and support for the military with spirituality. Which is another outrageous lie. There is nothing wrong with supporting members of the military, but that is a private decision. Whereas true Christians can't hide their faith.
I need not recount to you the painful history of the state co-opting religion for its own purposes. Churches and faith conflated with the affairs of state from the 4th century on. How pope's and kings manipulated believers and used the church to gain power, and then used that power to kill, steal and destroy. Anyone who dares equate love of country with love for God is exploiting the Evangelical community. They say opposition to the military industrial complex is un-American, and un-Christ like. That is an insult to human intelligence. It is a lie. No Christian should support this. Yet the Republican party has now declared support for their agenda to be equal with support for Evangelical Christian values. And Christians remain in that party?
Some evangelical leaders have embraced the lies and betrayed the Christian community and God almighty, for 30 pieces of silver from the Republican Party. We as Christians ought to know better. Shame on us for allowing ourselves to be sold to the highest bidder. We belong to God. Our ancestors had their church and state conflated against their will. But we are conflating them voluntarily today--yes, it is just that ugly.
What do you call it when Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins and my sins and paid the price for our freedom, and you join in covenant with a political party that mentions God in their political platform just to manipulate you for their own ends, and gets offended if you call them out. If your pastor tells you to vote for a party that merely talks about faith, you need to leave that church. Evangelical pastors are also going to have to answer for whether they serve Jesus or the Republican Party. The Evangelical community will never prosper by betraying God and following leadership that curies the favor of the Republican Party.
It is time for Christians to have the faith and courage to refuse to associate with a political party that has over the years used the language of faith to hoodwink believers, while in fact being anti-Christian, anti-church, anti-Bible, anti-life, anti-family, and anti-God. The Republican Party is also becoming increasingly anti-immigrant. God said remember the aliens because you were aliens in Egypt. Do you want to be cursed with them?
It is time to come out of the Republican Party, and to refuse to support their candidates in their rebellion against God. It is not about party but principle (even though we have only been talking about one party this whole time). It is not about creed, but righteousness. And you will stand before God to give an account for your choices and motives. We don't need the Republican Party or any party. We need God. God will take care of us. It has been a long time coming, but the time has come to take a stand. Come out from among them! Exodus now.