Rhonda Cagle

Looking for the Christ In Christian

In Uncategorized on July 8, 2012 at 11:53 am

At the risk of sounding self-important, or worse yet, all “Jesusy” as Anne LaMott likes to phrase it, I find myself with a lingering taste of anger and injustice that borders on moral outrage. I know, I know… “moral outrage” comes dangerously close to hyperbole, but it’s the phrase that comes closest to describing my feelings after reading a survey sent to my husband by a conservative Christian lobbying group.

And no, this is not a political rant. My husband is the politician; I am not. Since this is my blog and not his, I’m not writing about politics so whether you lean left or right, it’s safe to keep reading.

I am not overly political. I am, however, a Christian. Not a great one – certainly not one that feels morally superior enough to push my faith onto others. Most often, I find myself embarrassed by the made-for-TV televangelists who preach prosperity or conservative patriotism as tenants of the Christian faith. I don’t believe in that kind of religion – but I do believe in Christ.

To put it more succinctly, “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible…” My theology has enough room to accommodate those who raise their hands and speak in tongues along with those who raise the chalice and believe in an epiclesis that results in trans-substantiation. But my theology, let alone my patience, has no room for any form of faith that does not hold at its core “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” Stated another way, faith is defined as loving God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and loving your neighbor as yourself.

When my husband received a survey from a conservative Christian lobbying group for their voter guide, I expected their questions to reflect these priorities. I expected they would want to know of those running for political office in Arizona their stance on improving quality of living factors in our state. It seemed reasonable they would want a thoughtful answer on difficult subjects such as subsidizing health care for poor kids or improving social services that increase child safety and prevent child abuse.

I was wrong. Not one question addressed the more than 1 in 4 children who live in poverty in Arizona. Not a single question about how to serve more than 12,000 children in our state foster care system. There was no opportunity to address the 29+% of Arizona’s children who experience food insecurity – a polite way of saying they don’t have enough to eat on a consistent basis. No question was asked about how to improve our state unemployment rate of approximately 9% – more than 17% when you factor in those who are underemployed or working multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Instead, they asked the following. “Please indicate whether you support (S) or oppose(O).”

  • Prohibiting touching or tipping dancers and fully nude performances in sexually oriented businesses.
  • Prohibiting abortion except when it is necessary to prevent the death of the mother.
  • Allowing slot machines and table games off Indian reservations.
  • Government granting unmarried domestic partners the same employee and health benefits as married couples.
  • Amending the United States Constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
  • Extending the current 60-day waiting period for divorces that involve minor children in order to encourage reconciliation.
  • Passing state laws that authorize local law enforcement officials to enforce federal immigration laws.

No questions about feeding the hungry. Clothing the naked. No questions about caring for “the least of these” in our state and society. Just a simple – one might say simplistic – “support” or “oppose.” Yes or no. Black or white. No shades of gray. No space for discussion. No room for mercy.

Their voter guide won’t have any information about my husband. He didn’t bother to fill out their survey. That’s okay. Their survey doesn’t have any information about the God I know.

As he’s campaigning, I’ve asked my husband to keep his focus on what Scripture defines as important. Widows. Orphans. The hungry. The naked. The “least of these.” Unfortunately in Arizona, it’s a list long enough to keep him busy for years to come.

As far as I’m concerned, this “Christian” lobbying group can keep their voter guide. I’ll make my voting choices based on people serious about ensuring Arizona’s kids go to bed educated, safe, and fed. Politicians will earn my vote when they make “the least of these” their priority. Once we’ve solved these fundamental priorities, we can then afford to turn our attention to the wisdom of amending our nation’s Constitution and deciding on whether or not to tip nude performers. Until then, we have real problems and real issues to address – both as citizens and people of faith.

That’s the real Gospel. The real priority. That’s the Christ I expect to see in anything that bears the title of Christian.

  1. It always makes me sad when we miss the point and loose focus and concentrate on secondary issues. I saw that with the “moral majority” years ago. The voter’s guides around here miss the point too.

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