Where Faith and Politics Collide
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When I was in Phoenix, I hosted a weekly radio show. It was small-time stuff, nothing of any real consequence. But I loved doing it, and my producer and I were quite proud of what we did every week.
The title of the show was “Relevance Radio,” and the tagline was “where faith and politics collide.”
Needless to say, I am not a big fan of the dictum that faith and politics don’t mix. That’s usually said by bigots and homophobes who want to tell liberals and progressives to keep their brand of religion out of politics. Meanwhile, they use their narrow faith as a lens through which all laws must be written and to which all moral compasses must adjust.
What is happening on the campus of New College in Sarasota, Florida is a perfect example of how this works. Governor DeSantis has removed the president of the college and replaced her with a puppet of his whose salary is five times that of the woman her fired. He has also removed seven board members and replaced them with seven of his own, giving them a majority of one on the Board. At their meeting this week, that majority voted to shut down the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion office on the campus. They are using their faith as a weapon to attack what is a very diverse body of students taught by professors who give them a lot of latitude to think outside the boxes that bigots and homophobes misogynists create to proscribe the limits of their thinking.
When this happens, when power aligns to marginalize the thinking and the living of real people, activism becomes a matter of faith and a deeply spiritual practice. It isn’t just political resistance, which of course it is – it is also the articulation of what faith in action on behalf of a liberating God looks and feels like. After all, the only thing needed for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing. Not only is doing nothing NOT an option for people of faith under these circumstances, doing something is spiritually grounding and fulfilling.
And so it was I found myself on the campus of New College, speaking truth to power. It was a political act, to be sure. But it was also, and I would argue primarily, a spiritual undertaking. The words God gave to Moses were “Let my people go.” What God heard, what God saw, what God felt when witnessing the oppression and enslavement of Her children compelled God not just to act – but to call others to act.
Witnessing injustice and responding with silence, complacency, or even pity without action will suck your spirit dry. Showing up to speak, to act, to rebel is both political and spiritual.
I remembered that when after speaking, Bianca approached me. A young leader on campus, they told me they stopped going to church a long time ago because they were not accepted for who they were. They didn’t know a church existed that would not only recognize their worth, but fight for their rights, their freedom, their dignity. When I simply said to them, “Bianca, you are beautiful; welcome home,” they embraced me with tears and held me for a long time. They left saying they would go look for their new church home.
So, yeah. Faith and politics not only mix, at times they collide.
When oppression demeans – show up.
When bullies persist – speak up.
When injustice threatens – act out.
And let the abiding Spirit of the living God and the Risen Christ shine through you as your actions make liberation possible on this, our journey Into the Mystic.
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