Leonard Lovett, Ph.D
Jesus once said in poignant language, “If these shall hold their peace, the rocks shall immediately cry out.”
A group of Evangelicals were noisy in their explicit support of the incumbent during the 2016 presidential election. I had the audacity to publicly debate a well known conservative theologian who resides on the West Coast on my blog, The Agora-Marketplace of ideas- about the viability of both candidates. Now that we are in the worse national political crisis in a half a century, where are the voices of those Evangelicals and others who were so determined to blot the memory of our first Black president, they decided to just settle.
It was quite a photo opt this week to see them gathered in the Oval Office praying for president. Currently there is political blood in the water and the sharks appear to be closing in for the kill with the release of damaging E-Mails concerning the behavior of the son of the president and his relationship to the Russians during the political campaign.
Why the silence of the Faith Community? Why has the conservatives been morphed into silence? I taught a Seminary course at Fuller Theological Seminary on Theology of Politics in an attem
pt to critically integrate ethics, theology and politics in one grid. I facilitated the same upgraded course at Oral Roberts University School of Theology and Missions titled Faith and Politics. The underlying assumption and premise of both courses is that theology and Faith must always be in critique of the political order. Caesar must be respected and given due honor, but must always come under prophetic critique. If the Faith Community is not fully engaged in the critique of politics then it is reduced to a social club opened for entertainment only.
Please do not be intimidated or confused by the harness placed on you by your 501 3C Non-Profit status and Separation of Church and State concerns. It does not mean you are supposed to be muffled and morphed into silence. You can and should speak up about the way things are going. If your right to speak is repressed, then we are living in a regime where tyranny is dominant and not a democracy where freedom reigns. According to Jesus Christ, you are to “r
ender unto Caesar the things that be Caesars, and unto God the things that belong to God.” In the Faith Community, respect for leadership does not mean to be non-critical and bury you head in the sand at a time when you should be speaking. Fear of incrimination and isolation appear to be the reason we are afraid to engage in critique. Edmund Burke was on point when he stated that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Karl Barth, the Swiss theologian who changed the course of theology for centuries to come once stated: “One should read with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” The Word of God does speak to culture.
To be silent when you should be speaking is a form of ethical criminality that has dire consequences in a disordered world. Jesus often spoke in revolutionary and caustic direct terms in his day when he ordered someone to “Go tell that Fox” (Herod) and “You generation of vipers who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come.” Rome was the dominant power when these words were spoken and could have easily been interpreted as an insult to the reigning Emperor if found out. If you plan to be silent when you should be speaking prophetically in challenging social and political evil, why not take your sign down and put the real sign up describing who you really are at the core of your being as a Faith Community.
I love our political leaders, but to honor them is a moral choice at this juncture. Whenever the behavior of a leader crosses the boundary and norms of sanity, we must in the name of God pray and muster up enough courage to speak “truth to power.” I am not disappointed at the silence of the Faith Community during this critical juncture in our national history…I am livid!
Follow my commentary at www.theagor.net the marketplace of ideas “where truth is spoken and never compromised.” -Dr. Leonard Lovett, public theologian, ethicist and ecumenist