As a Christian pastor, I take the separation of Church and State seriously. I do not believe it appropriate for pastors–in their roles as pastors–to support one candidate over another. While I do believe it’s vital that people of faith live their faith in the public sphere, I understand–and respect the fact–that the ways people live their faith commitments will be wildly diverse. That diversity is good and energizing, both for faith and for democracy.
Here’s the thing that’s frustrated me about the current presidential campaign. Demeaning and derogatory comments are being made with alarming regularity. Because those comments are being made by a presidential candidate, I haven’t felt it appropriate to speak directly to the comments out of fear that talking about those comments might be construed as supporting one candidate over another.
The latest comments making the rounds–comments glamorizing the mistreatment and assault of women–have convinced me that, as a Christian pastor, I can no longer remain silent.
To objectify women, or to advocate for and confess to harming women is not acceptable, in a presidential candidate or anyone else. And it’s certainly not something any person of faith can advocate for….or stand idly by saying nothing while these terrible things are being said. Theologian Rebecca Chopp has described the church’s two-fold mission as “denouncing sin and announcing grace.” She describes sin as whatever militates against human flourishing. Advocating violence against women can only be understood as sin.
In her book, The Power to Speak, Chopp also talks about how rhetoric isn’t just words. Words are not birthed in a vacuum. Words grow out of reality. Words create reality. And (this is me again) words that advocate–and valorize–violence, help create the reality to which they point. Because of derogatory comments being made right now, our country is a little less safe for women. And Muslims. And people of color. And LGBTQ people. And soldiers suffering from PTSD.
If words create reality, I choose to use my words–as a Christian pastor–to denounce the sins being committed in our public life in this country right now–both the sin of speaking words that militate against the flourishing of so many AND the sin of silence from public figures who could be speaking out, but aren’t.
I confess the sin of my own silence up to now. I offer these words as a first step in my penance.