The RNC Gets it Wrong

Our friend TJ Williams (student at Union Seminary, member of Riverside Church) asked me to pass this on to you. His personal reflections on the Republican National Convention. 

As my partner Brad and I watched CNN Tuesday night, we sat in awe as we viewed at a split screen with two hurricanes — one hitting Baton Rouge, La., and Mississippi and the other coming from Tampa, Fla., in the form of voter suppression, ideological racism, classism, social and spiritual homophobia.
As an African-American, I am more than offended at the notion that by selecting people like Arthur Davis of Virginia as a speaker that he can persuade African- Americans to vote for Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney represents an oppressive ideological system of values that is not about freedom and fairness, but is about distortions and protecting the 1 percent of society. Davis’s message is only about an attempt to create collective amnesia.
The desperation of the Republican Party is shown by masking its message in even more lies through even more voices — voices like that of Gov. Nikki Haley and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who really must believe that the majority of Americans are dumb enough to believe the lies about President Obama’s record. Lies like the phrase the Republican Party used for the majority of Tuesday’s Republican convention. The phrase they used is “We Built It,” a phrase that President Obama used that was taken out of context. This phrase “we built it,” is where the president was pointing out that many businesses have always depended on some services from government. However, Mr. Romney has twisted it to mean that the president said all companies are created by government. It is a shame that they believe that people would be such sheep of collective manipulation.
The Republican Party always goes back to the Founding Fathers that many in America cannot identify with, such as African Americans and Native Americans. Descendants of both of these cultures were violently treated by early American settlers. Is this what they mean when they say that they want to go back to a time of the Founding Fathers —a time of slavery, rapes and murder over appropriation of land where populations ran free and where communities were villages. The phrase “back to the Founding fathers” conjured up images that are not like that of the 95 percent of the Republican Party has idealized.
Gov. Chris Christie praised his efforts to block jobs for tenured teachers. “We took on the teachers union by ending jobs for life regardless of performance.” This tough talk coming from Christie is about union busting and ruining the systems put in place to protect workers in terms of health care, fair and livable wages. He went on to boast of attacking Medicare the only tool for seniors and their families to have dignity in providing healthcare and skilled nursing and even palliative care. His quote on this was “telling our seniors the truth about our over burdened entitlements.” Gov. Christie, it is not an entitlement to protect and to offer services that people have worked for more than 75 years. Taking these services away is void of compassion and the Jesus that you claim you know.
As people of faith, Brad and I identify most with the Democratic Party of today because it cares about the America it seeks to serve and because it supports open voting of all people. This is imperative for the health of our democracy and for the values and freedoms for all.  We are not just saying this as a gay couple, but as Americans who are concerned about combating poverty, maintaining access to health care and education for all, and yes and end to Defense of Marriage Act.
Let me say this clearly: Voter suppression in this election is the agenda of the Republican Party because it is the only way the party can see itself winning the White House. We have seen this before in the election of George W. Bush. Rigging the election is nothing new with the Republican Party. This is not just un- American, but immoral to the God they always claim they serve.
Therefore, we call on all pastors and community leaders to be vigilant in assuring that the least of these who are at risk of being turned away at the polls is protected. If I were a pastor today, I would do everything possible so that this presidency can be protected and respected so we can collectively move forward as a nation.
Too many have died and bled on the bridge to Selma, Ala., for this election to be stolen by a few who have exchanged their white sheets with white shirts, colorful ties and Gucci suits. We are not telling clergy what to do, but we are merely asking clergy to speak truth for the sake of the least of these and the grandchildren of the least of these, and to protect the values that were implemented after the Founding Fathers.


TJ Williams and Brad Hauger
Riverside Church First gay Couple to be legally married
T. J Williams MDIV Student at New York Theological Seminary

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TJ is Available for speaking/preaching

Who Would Moses or Jesus Vote For?

by: Wes Howard-Brook  Republished from the Tikkun Daily Blog, April 6th, 2012

One of the most hostility-producing actions I’ve taken in brecent years was to raise questions among my fellow faculty about the primacy of voting for federal offices. One colleague had proposed a “get out the vote” drive among students, to which I replied, “Maybe we should be inviting them to ask, ‘is voting a civic duty or a corporate scam?’” The rolling eyes, shaking heads, and downright anger took even a seasoned veteran such as myself by surprise.
We can question the reality of God, the importance of Jesus, and the integrity of religious institutions, but dare at your own risk to challenge the civic sacrament! But I do dare to challenge it, both in the classroom and here. Would Moses have us vote for a “kinder, gentler” pharaoh, or Jesus for a better emperor?
We all know that our federal system has been taken captive by corporations and the 1%. I need not lay out examples of the systemic control that the wealthy exercise over our national politicians and regulatory agencies. As a young Senate counsel 30 years ago, I saw up close the reality of the single, over-arching rule of national government: whoever has the most money wins.
Countless analysts, such as Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, and Chris Hedges, have documented the course of our imperial, corporate government brazenly serving the interests of the few at the expense of the many. What we see now is not different from the past, except in its open contempt for the real needs of ordinary people for health care, meaningful work, and a healthy planet for our children’s children.
This can lead some to cynicism that gives up not only on politics but on the possibility of real change for justice and peace. For me, though, it has been clarifying. I no longer put any hope in a system that was founded by and for the 1% and has always acted on their behalf. Rather, I put all my hope in God’s vision of an alternative social order. The covenant at Sinai called an enslaved people out of empire to live a radically different way in deep communion with the Creator and one another. Similarly, Jesus called his disciples not to reform the empire but to abandon it, and live instead in local community where all is shared in common, empowered by the presence of embodied Love.
Things can be different at the local level, as activist Paul Cienfuegos has shown. Corporations can’t control each local town council, and citizens can more effectively organize resistance when the rich seek to exert their power. But at the national level, this is virtually impossible.
I urge us to consider, in the face of the banal predictability of the national election campaigning, to discern whether voting is an expression of civic duty or is a form of collaboration with a corporate scam. Our future and the future of our planet are at stake.