It’s taken me several weeks to get my thoughts together about the Rev. Wright controversy. This recent 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr helped me put a few things in perspective.
I think there’s a mistaken belief that the Church is supposed to keep check of the morals of only its adherents, but that’s not so. It is the role of the Church to challenge not only its adherents and believers, not just society at large, but the government as well. That’s why the “Founding Fathers” instituted the separation of the Church and State. Not just to preserve the State, but also to preserve the Church.
I think everyone can agree that no Church is to be partisan. That goes without saying. That does not mean, however, that the Church is to be apolitical. The third line of the Father’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come,” is explicitly political. And while there seems to be some disagreement about what God’s Kingdom would mean for nations here on Earth, there can be no disagreement that God’s Kingdom doesn’t mean the United States or the United Kingdom, or any other such “Earthly” nation. The idea that the Church is not allowed to criticize the government is not only faulty, it’s a lie. If the Sacred can’t criticize the Secular, who can? Who should?
Just so we’re clear, the reason the Constitution prohibits the federal and state governments from establishing a particular religion goes beyond the mere desire not to force Methodists to pay taxes to the Baptist Church. It’s precisely so that the government can’t use the Church to promote its own agenda.
Many who reject Christianity do so based on the past of Christianity. The Church’s support of mass murder with the Inquisition and witch hunts are among its faults. The Church’s support of slavery, colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and the subjugation of women just about round up the Church’s sins. But, to lay the fault of all these sins at the feet of the Church is a bit misleading. The problem with the Church wasn’t simply its support for these crimes against humanity; the problem was the Church’s historical entwining with the State. Even today, the head of the English monarchy is also head of the Anglican Church. To be sure, there were always those who spoke out against these crimes against humanity in the name of Christ. But when the Church can use the apparatus of the State, its military, to enforce its “doctrine”; and, the State can use the apparatus of the Church, its threat of excommunication, to enforce “loyalty” and "patriotism," problems arise.
So, back to the genesis of this blog. Rev. Wright wasn’t only historically and presently accurate in his accounting of the state of race in America, he was doing his job by calling out our government and citizens for our lackadaisical sense of justice – where, as it was once explained, it takes 89,000 dead Rwandans to warrant the death of 1 American. And for those of you who are so vehemently against the militarism of America, our poverty and endemic racism, even if you are not a Christian, you would do well to support Rev. Wright’s right and duty to speak against the government.
I mean, really, I have plans of speaking against it, and I have absolutely no intentions of dying for it, either. A worldwide poll was taken that found close to 90% of the world’s population believes the biggest threat to peace isn’t Islamic terrorists but the US government. Let’s add up all the deaths caused by the US and those caused by Al Qaeda and see what we find. I got the US up by several hundred thousand right now. If God/ess does judge nations, and I do believe to some extent S/He does, I think murder will rank very high against US.
Though, in the future, I hope my posts will be more finely crafted and better written than this.