On Monday, I read an article on MPR’s website about your endorsement of Michele Bachmann. I have to admit that in learning such I was quite disappointed. My disappointment does not lay in the fact that I do not agree with many of Ms. Bachmann’s positions or politics yet it lies in the fact that you support those positions, and as a pastor of a mega-church influencing thousands of people, I take great issue with that.
As a man of God, I believe that you not only have great authority to influence and persuade, but you also have a greater responsibility – adhering to and upholding the Word of God. It is your first and foremost duty to preach this Word, to democrat and republican alike, and to make sure that in doing so you do not lead any one astray.
In reading this Word, the Bible, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, I find an underlying theme of God’s love for humanity. We severely messed up and broke his commandments, (which you know, I am sure) all which separated us eternally from His presence. Yet in His infinite, unconditional love and mercy, He won us back to himself through the shedding of His blood. The only thing He asks us to do in response, is to love Him, to trust Him, to pledge our lives to Him, in exchange for everlasting life.
Yet, that love is not only unto ourselves, but for others as well. In this individualistic culture that we live in, we often forget that the Gospel is not just for us alone but for an entire world lost and dying all around us. How do we bring this world in? It is clear to me that we bring them in by our love, our love for one another yes, but also our love for our neighbor near and far.
With his parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus illustrated that our neighbor is often unlike us. They may be from a different culture or ethnicity, a different sex, a different race, a different class, even a different orientation. No matter to God, he calls us to love each and every one the same. We love not with our words, but with our deeds – clothing the poor, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, visiting those who are in prison, showing mercy to the immigrants among us, caring for the fatherless. So serious is Jesus about this that He goes as far to say in Matthew 25 that those who do not do these things – acts of mercy and acts of justice – have nothing to do with him. So serious is Jesus about this that He actually tells those who perpetrate, either by participation or consent, to depart from Him.
To be honest, I have often had a hard time with this passage and even this teaching. It challenged my comforts and my desire to protect me and mine, and mind my own business. But one day, God shook my world (I am glad) and I could longer dismiss this teaching so central to Jesus’ teaching. Some years ago, I took a trip to Rwanda that tipped my whole world upside down as I saw acts of genocide that had been perpetrated by Christians in Rwanda. They failed to see the connection between the faith that God called them to live, and their actions, horrible actions against their own brothers and sisters. I believe that such was not only a problem with Christians in Rwanda, but it is a problem with Christians in America too. We fail to see the connection between our faith in Jesus Christ, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. And it is not only costing us lives, the lives of mothers and their children who go to bed hungry every night because unemployment has stricken their community so high or because of the disparities they face as a result of their race, but on a spiritual level it is costing us souls, souls that Jesus will hold us accountable for. Remember it was He who said that the only way people would believe is through our love?
So what does all this mean and have to do with your support for Ms. Bachmann? Throughout her campaigning, not once have I heard her address some of these issues so paramount to the faith that she expresses. In fact, I have heard her suggest that many programs and agencies that help and protect those that are most vulnerable in our country need to be abolished, like the Environmental Protection Agency. Ms. Bachmann has said times without number that the EPA is the job-killing agency of America and that she would close its doors if elected to office. But this poses a problem for not only me, but more specifically to many poor and disenfranchised communities around this nation. Many of these communities have histories of arsenic, lead, and other pollutants that adversely affect their health as a result of power plants and other things placed into their communities. Without the EPA, who would be responsible for moving these toxins, making sure that families have a safe, viable environment for their children? On another report for MPR some months ago, I heard a book review on Tomatoland about the tomato harvesting culture in Florida. In hearing I learned that many of the fields in Florida spray their fields with one of the most deadliest pesticides according to the EPA. Yet people are forced to work these fields against their will, fearing that they have no other option. And do you know who those people are? The poor, the vulnerable, the immigrant. So while Ms. Bachmann would rather save jobs, she is willing to lose a few people, the lowliest, the disenfranchised, the people who cannot take to have any other forms of injustice thrown their way.
There are many, many more examples, all of which I cannot name here because this letter is already getting quite long. However, I implore you, based on the faith in Christ that we share, to recant your endorsement. The kingdom of God cannot afford this, the souls who are perishing as a result of injustice cannot afford this. Granted, I believe that politics is not something that should be preached from the pulpit, but that is a different argument for a different day.