The following letter to the editor was submitted to the Boerne Star in response to the “Write of Center” column on January 8, 2023, entitled “Christian Values drive local GOP.” The Star declined to publish the letter, so we are publishing it here. Many thanks to Billie Watts for her excellent response.
“Christian values” -the very words give me shivers, especially when tied to any political party. What are these values and how are they lived out? If what we have seen these last few years in the GOP, (meaning “Grand Old Party,” NOT “God’s Own Party”) are identifiers for Christianity, then count me out. Traditional, family (Christian) values have not only caused many to become “nones” and “dones,” they have distorted Christianity itself, turning the message of the gospel of love into a message of violence, insurrection, white supremacy, intolerance and even hatred of “others.” When political parties and politicians bastardize religion to pit people against people and exclude and make life harder for the vulnerable, marginalized, oppressed, and displaced, it is not religion they advance but their own political power – manipulation at its worst.
As to the article’s call for respect and submission (obedience) to government, history teaches us otherwise. A deep dive into Scripture often reveals what is descriptive of that time and culture is NOT prescriptive for our time (Titus 3:1). The voting rights of Black Americans and women mark the struggle against the social order that created it and the laws that sustained it, not submission to it.
Christian Nationalism is not synonymous with Christianity. It blurs the lines between religion and politics and is the biggest threat to religious freedom on which this country WAS founded. Privileging one religion over another is contrary to the laws of our land. The First Amendment to the Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” and Article VI states, “…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
May we not be the ones to make it so.
Rev. Billie Watts, United Church of Christ