Torch Article: Reverendly Yours - Rev. Tom Goldsmith

29 January 2018

The Bible is less concerned with alleviating the effects of injustice than in eliminating the causes of it. –Wm. Sloane Coffin

Have you noticed the correlation between keeping religion out of politics with conservative ideology? The more conservative the thinking, the less inclined towards religious precepts on morality and eliminating the causes of injustice. Conservative thinking places religion squarely in the category of private piety as though religion were detached completely from the care and concerns of others.

It has always struck me as a peculiar theology that the personal spiritual life devoted to seeking transcendence precludes the injunction to love one’s neighbor. And as the pious proclaim that they are answerable only to God, I cannot fathom that God would not ask them: What have you done to improve the lives of your neighbor? One would think that God cares more about pervasive injustice on His creation than an individual’s self-absorbed interest in his or her salvation alone.

Religion has bubbled over into public life because society can no longer separate the single thread that makes the wellbeing of society a focus of both politics and religion. Political fundamentals must deal primarily with how we treat one another. A huge chasm between rich and poor is not good politics. If the bonds of commitment to caring for others are not strengthen, that’s bad politics.

The same holds true for religion. Churches that preach the increasingly popular gospel of wealth are practicing bad religion. Religion, according to The Prophets, Jesus, Pope Francis, and other leading practitioners of biblical compassion, herald the wellbeing of others as the fundamental principle in all of life. Religion and the public square are inseparable.

How can religion not enter politics when currently the government is using the lives of children as pawns in a strategic plan to care for the super rich? CHIP is on the chess table affecting the medical care of 9 million children. DACA is on the chess table affecting 800,000 dreamer immigrants who grew up in our country. We’re talking human lives, young human lives as though they were dispensable in some insane political strategy attempting to bypass the wellbeing of people in society.

There are currently 1000 churches in the U.S. that provide sanctuary to immigrants facing deportation. We stand proudly among them. Our church has entered the public square as a corrective to bad politics. Once politics strays from the care of human beings, what other institution besides Houses of Worship can counteract the selfish motives infiltrating politics? Our theology includes maintaining a high moral standard of care in the public arena. Our theology demands empathy; the lack of it spells apathy. Our theology also calls for introspection in answering the decisive question: How are you treating people? TRG