Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Whole Truth, Nothing But....

Everybody: Stop and think.

What is happening? If we slow down enough to absorb the implications of the vicious, race-tinged attacks upon the Obama campaign, attacks that increase as we near the final days of this campaign, we people of faith can not but reach a similar conclusion: this is wrong!

Therefore, I am convinced that if we do not unite to denounce and descry all use, no matter how veiled and costumed, of racial bias as a tool or strategy in this election, we too are wrong. We are a part of the problem.

It occurs to me that the reason the so-called liberal media have been endeavoring to reveal instances of hate-based speech at rallies and even more smear-laced telephone campaigns is that they are playing the role of the ones who uphold whatever is left of moral and ethical standards in this land. Somehow it seems that should be our job.

Looking over the blogs written by colleagues recently, I see some addressing these deeply troubling issues, but many more (my own included!) dealing with things like online games, seasonal changes, personal issues, pets, and sports. I point no fingers, except at myself! I merely ask those whose eloquence and/or loquaciousness impel them to write to consider my proposal, below.

Clergy people ought to be at very least far more likely than the average citizen to be honest. It is our job! If nothing else, we are called to filter the muddy waters of contemporary life, removing the pollutants and distilling the clear essence. We are called to package that essence and to deliver it to as wide an audience as we can without regard for our own safety or security.

Are we doing so? I know there are glaring cases in which I have not been doing so. And, I know that there are those among us who do so tirelessly and fearlessly. This is a call to all of my fellow clergy everywhere, no matter your affiliation, to join me in emulating our courageous sisters and brothers who have been unafraid to stand up and speak out since this nonsense and deception began (at least since 9/11/01 but undoubtedly far longer) and use whatever skills and talents and platforms we have access to to reveal the horrifying underbelly of racism that threatens to derail this campaign.

Here's my initial offering:

* I have just received a report from a member of my congregation that, under cover of darkness, a paper was left upon his doorstep in Lexington, Kentucky, showing two pictures of Obama wearing Kenyan attire, with the words "America will bow down to Islam" emblazoned across the picture.

* I was told by a service provider who is a Republican and a conservative Christian of the following incidents:

One woman whispered to her that Obama is a Muslim terrorist.

Another said this : The Klan hasn't done their job. But they will.

All of these incidents happened in Lexington, Kentucky. This is not even a contested state! Obama is barely even campaigning here! There must be far more and far worse examples in other places.

What have you or the members of your congregation heard and seen that echo these ugly sentiments? We need a place to report and gather all of these incidents and comments, a national repository of truth-telling. Let's hope that people still believe that clergy are more likely to be honest. At least, let's hope that if we have a wide, interfaith coalition of clergy invested in revealing the truth, it will be credible.

I know that I will work with my organization, The Interfaith Alliance of the Bluegrass, and with our Human Relations Commission, to endeavor to do so locally, but I am also dreaming of a way that we could share these incidents and reports across this nation, as leaders of faith communities, bound to be truthful and vigilant?

Several years ago, I went to a Flea Market in my home state of New Jersey. There, I bought some apples and cider from a woman who ran a produce stall. It was about $4 worth. I handed her a $20 bill and she gave me change for a five. Interestingly she had not laid my twenty on the register as most cashiers are required to do. When I accosted her, she loudly protested and accused me of lying. I didn't want to lose my fifteen dollars, and my righteous indignation was triggered. I don't lie! I told her. I'm a minister! To this she replied, still loud and accusatory: "Ha! They are the worst kind!" I gave up. She kept my $15, but left me thinking.

We clergy ought to be the "worst kind" to people like her, and people who are using deception and sleight-of-hand to try and steal this election. Even when those people try and turn the indignation and accusations upon those of us who bring truth to the table, we can not walk away. What is at stake is far more important than even this election. It is the moral fiber and the integrity of our nation, of the people we labor to serve, to save, and to stand beside.

If we can figure out a way to bring our offerings of truth together, to stand together via electronic means or otherwise, our outcry will be heard. If we don't..... what does that say about us?