NOT JUST A SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

Each week I go to the post office to get the Quaker meeting’s mail. A while back, I wound up going after regular counter hours (the lobby’s open longer) only to find a notice that we’d received a package too big to fit into our rental box. That meant a special trip early the next week to pick it up.

I assumed the mystery mailing would be a big envelope for our finance committee or maybe a box of books for the library or religious education.

No, it was smaller than that, from the apparently richly funded Liberty Counsel Project in Orlando, Florida. I opened it to find a DVD addressed to

PASTORS
&
PATRIOTS

and must admit to being offended.

It’s not that I’m opposed to defending “faith, freedom, and family,” as they put it, but I do take Ephesians 6 seriously. No carnal weapons, only those of the Spirit. Besides, I see no awareness of the impact of corporate employers and economic forces and even popular entertainment culture in the “systematic assault on our liberties” – meaning, if you read between the lines, an imposition of their standards upon the rest of the populace.

The mailing’s title phrase reminds me how much our understanding of the Bible teachings  (and I include Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren in this stream) differs from many other denominations. To me, “patriot” carries too much of the nationalist strain, denying what one Mennonite minister expresses simply as, “We believe Christ came for all people, not just Americans.” The patriot image also inevitably carries a musket, and no intention to “love thine enemy,” much less feed one. And then there’s Samuel Johnson’s observation that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. Ahem!

How much I’d prefer instead to see

PASTORS
&
PEACEMAKERS

as a recognition of a higher path and calling.

The subheading, “Silence is not an option!” is also troubling from my perspective, one that embraces silence as strength and speaks quietly in Truth. Shouting (as the exclamation point suggests) too often seeks to drown out all others’ … including the Holy One. Well, the group does keep talking about “doing battle,” but from everything I’ve read, Jesus takes up a cross, not a sword, and urges us to do the same.

Curiously, I was not the only one to first read that line as “Science is not an option” … but then, real scientists don’t shout, either. Still, in the overall scheme of their argument, this may be altogether fitting in their larger stand.

As I continue to reflect on the mailing, there’s no way of escaping many of the ways people and institutions keep trying to wrap God and Jesus (among others, depending on the place and its populace) in flags and partisan causes, rather than opening themselves to the Holy One’s larger mission.

It’s enough to have me thinking of a new bumper sticker:

LET’S SAVE JESUS!

Amen?

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6 thoughts on “NOT JUST A SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

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