Judgment Silenced

Author: Gary Hart

What follows seems to be about religion, and especially about the Christian religion, but it is not.  It is about moral leadership.  So please don’t see “religion” and run away saying “enough already about religion.”

The question is why the so-called “mainstream” Christian churches and their leaders seem so quiet in this Trumpian era while “Christianity” seems to be represented in the public square almost exclusively by evangelicals, one tributary of the Christian river.

This is not one of those “I haven’t heard it, therefore it hasn’t happened” arguments.  For all I know, pastors and theologians of various denominations, including but not limited to, Episcopalians, Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and many others, are speaking and writing daily either praising or judgmentally condemning Trumpian excesses.

After all, the seminaries and divinity schools across the nation virtually all teach the notion that Christians are called upon to render judgments between good and evil and to provide a prophetic voice, in the lineage of Jeremiah, on secular actions contrary to the Testaments, Old and New.

Religious journals, along with Sunday sermons, are abundant, beyond the ability of a single person to read or listen to them all.  So, once again, the complaint here may be wide of the mark.  But some of us pay close attention to the national dialogue and, in this commentator’s case, find almost nothing from “mainstream” Christian leaders in condemnation of administration’s actions destroying immigrant families, failing to pursue climate protections, ignoring the plight of the poor and homeless, neglecting health care for the needy, and the list is endless.

And if there is a prophetic word said from the pulpits about the Trump era destruction of the earth that God made, the climate life depends on, and the preserved natural heritage he is desperate to give to the commercial interests it is being whispered in the dark.

These are moral issues that transcend the limited focus of evangelicals on abortion and anti-abortion judges.  Rendering moral judgments should not be partisan.  If a Democratic administration were as far outside the American historical tradition as the present one, it should be equally condemned.  And it undoubtedly would be by the now very partisan evangelical movement.

Isn’t it strange how the moral compass can swing in the direction we want it to?  In such cases, the compass is no longer moral; it is partisan.  That is why we have scriptures and religious texts.  To bring the compass back to true North.

But the issue is the seeming silence of mainstream Christianity.  Where are the Isaiahs and Jeremiahs when we need them?  Lots of explanations.  The congregation is politically divided, therefore don’t raise political issues.  But wide divergence from moral Biblical teachings as they affect society require condemnation.  Jesus took a whip to the money changers in the Temple, thereby insuring His fate.

There are deep divisions within Christianity, as there are within Judaism and other religions.  But there are, or at least should be, rock solid truths that require observation regardless of partisan ideologies.  These require the voices of the clergy, the ordained leaders of the faith.

There are prophets who should be praised.  One is Jim Wallis, of Sojourners, who is a true Matthew, chapter 25, Christian.  There surely are others who do not attract the attention of the press covering the evangelical self-promoters flocking in and out of the White House.

I vividly remember the pastor of the most prominent church in which I was raised preaching from the pulpit the Sunday before the 1960 election that “God does not want a Catholic in the White House.”

Had I not been sitting with my wife and her parents, prominent in that denomination, I would have walked out.  And often wished that I had, regardless.  Instead, shortly thereafter I abandoned that denomination.

Where are the prophetic voices of today?  Where is the moral leadership?  Where are the leaders of mainstream Christian churches calling down God’s judgment on a government that has demonstrating it is capable of anything?

Judgment silenced is no judgment at all.

10 Responses to “Judgment Silenced”

  1. LORENZO CHERIN Says:

    It saddens me, to comment in this way, after a return to my favourite site from my favourite politician, internationally.

    To answer you is to roundly criticise your party, which, if I, as my wife did in her youth , would call mine, if she and I, lived in her country of origin, the US, rather than mine, the UK.

    The issue that would cause that feeling of alienation from the Democrats , is abortion.

    I was brought up , and was enthusiastic , then, for it, as and in, the Catholic religious denomination. My views on abortion however are based on my , over the years, belief in humanity and humanitarianism, rather than being Catholic and Liberal, or believing in Catholicism or Liberalism.

    I believe abortion should be , as Democrats once said, safe, rare, legal.

    I do not believe they should be late, frequent and on demand.

    The recent laws, their cheering supporters, in New York repelled me. Calls to excomunicate Andrew Cuomo, surprise me not very much, as his support for abortion til birth, a crass but not without call, to say, it, result or possibility now , legally, is outrageous.

    To be a moderate in your party now is as difficult for some, in the Democrats, as it is for very many Republicans.

    That we see , now, with Trump, moving the country as he is, the Democrats mirror reversing, rather than saying, no, we are mainstream, we are for the values that made the country truly, not supposedly, great, makes this Liberal Democrat UK version, sad.

  2. Gary Hart Says:

    You should not be sad, Lorenzo, over a complex personal matter such as this. The essay in no way pre-judges anyone’s beliefs on this issue. It is complex and highly personal and it should be left to the individual, not a party, to decide. Most Democrats believe in individual choice, and many of us subscribe to “safe, rare, and legal.” Inspired by moral principles, most people will reach the right conclusion for themselves. GH

  3. Gary Hart Says:

    Out of the greatest of respects for the incalculable loss of Notre Dame de Paris, comments on this post will no longer be posted. If you wish to express grief for this historic tragedy on this Holy Week, your thoughts will be post. Gary Hart

  4. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    As sad as it was to watch in real time the devastation at Notre Dame de Paris, I couldn’t help but think that all people of good will and thoughtful disposition are united in this sadness. And from that comes some sense of hope for this world of ours …

  5. Brian McCarthy Says:

    Senator, you never fail to impress me. I was about to post a lengthy response when I saw your follow up message about the Notre Dame fire. Today, there is no message any Christian should have for any other Christian other than an expression of sadness for the loss of a true House of God.
    BCM

  6. LORENZO CHERIN Says:

    Thank you to Senator Hart for these wise and poignant words above. I would like to post my expression of sympathy with the Paris community, French public, Cathedral worshippers, more than anything, the firefighter hurt. I send thoughts and feelings for a Happy Easter ,in the midst of events we hear of, the nature of them often, increases the sadness I allude to, but which our host, in such circumstances is determined, thankfully, to improve upon and alleviate, much appreciated.

  7. Gary Hart Says:

    Consider the resurrection symbolism if His Holiness were to offer a mass in Notre Dame de Paris on Easter Sunday. GH

  8. John Dedie Says:

    I am sad about Notre Dame but millionaires have raised the $$$ to rebuild but in this country 3 black churches in Louisiana get burned via arson and they are having a lot of difficulty raise funds.

  9. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    I heard that more money was being raised for these black churches in the wake of the billion plus raised for Notre Dame. I hope it’s true …

  10. Eric C. Jacobson Says:

    https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2019/04/fire-in-the-cathedral

    As an immensely saddened Jewish observer of the Notre-Dame tragedy, I found it odd when (most likely soulless) billionaires in our age of pitiless uber-capitalism began donating many millions of dollars to repair a glorious cathedral built by an entire community of highly reverent Christians in the truly theistic (feudal) Middle Ages.

    It seemed to me that the rebuilding of one of “God’s houses on earth” would be far more meaningful if financed through many thousands of small tithes and accomplished by many hundreds of reverent volunteers (or modestly compensated) architects, artisans and laborers.

    Ms. Brown’s fine essay linked above (and some of the comments on it) address this contradiction from a Christian perspective.

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