It seems to me that we are at point in our country’s history where it feels a gospel response to our society is not allowed or even tolerated. That everyone must wear a label, and those of us Christians are not acting like the people of solidarity that the gospel clearly calls for.
In the last month, I have worn two labels. Two weeks ago, I was called a pro-life conservative idiot. Pro-life and conservative are definitely labels I wear and wear proudly. Since when did the word “idiot” get paired with believing that God creates all life from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death? And since when did having conservative values of marriage, of family, and of my faith mean that I am Neanderthal and foolish?
And then, in my role as the CEO/President at Catholic Charities Fort Worth, where we focus our work on ending poverty, I was called a crazy liberal because of my concern for refugees. It was said that I was not the conservative Catholic people believed I was because surely safety and welcoming the stranger couldn’t coexist, right? It was questioned if we needed such a liberal leading our 40M organization.
What hurt the most is that both of these separate sentiments were said by Christians.
As the Church, and by Church, I mean Baptist, Catholic, non-denominational, and more, has spoken out over the past few weeks on the recent actions of our President, I have heard so many false sentiments. I have heard cheers of joy that the church leaders have spoken out against the Trump supporters who are now labeled as “hating refugees”. I heard that Christians have called various churches where a pastor has spoken out about his stance and said that they will no longer support the Church because the way they believe the church is against our President. I cannot believe that either of these sentiments is what we as believers are saying right now. Just because you are a Trump supporter does not mean you hate refugees. And, just because you are a refugee supporter does not mean you hate our President.
I have always been proud to be a part of the Church, and to live out my faith, specifically through service at Catholic Charities, whose mission includes “to advocate for compassion and justice in the structures of society.” As a Christian people—we are called to speak for justice. And advocating for justice has got to stem from our faith and our gospel, not from a political party. It has been an interesting road for me at CCFW to watch this in action. We’ve had people cheering for us and others who stopped supporting us when we engaged in a lawsuit against President Obama’s administration in order to protect our rights as a faith-based organization and take a stand against providing life-ending drugs in our health care plan. And again, we have people cheering for us and others who stopped supporting us on our request to President Trump to rethink his executive order because of the impact to refugees. Some of the same people who cheered us on to take a stance on a “political” issue on abortion now say it is not okay for us to be “political.” My desire isn’t politics, it is to live the gospel…to advocate for our faith in all aspects of our world.
I am a child of God. Our Church leaders are children of God. Our President is a child of God. Our refugees are children of God. And that is the one and only label that we need to put on one another. Can I get an Amen?
– CCFW CEO and President, Heather Reynolds