Brothers and Sisters,
We have lived some difficult months in this country; months of growing hostility among political leaders, with the lashing out at others in extreme ways, and not just at political opponents. Racism, misogyny, xenophobia, a disregard for the economically poor, and all too often a lack of honesty, have characterized the race for the presidency. It brought out the worst in us for all to see.
During this year as I traveled across the country and to other parts of the world, persons I encountered kept reminding me that the U.S. Presidential election affected them as well. The power of the leading nation of the free world is still felt around the globe. The nastiness of our political season troubled those I met along the way. They feared that it would pour over into the diplomatic relationships between our country and theirs. At our 2016 General Conference the bishop of the Methodist Church of Argentina shared with me his deep concerns about our Presidential election. “Remember us when you vote,” he said to me.
In our democratic society a fair election has been held and a president has been elected. I hope that we United Methodists participated in the election. As United Methodists we believe that “the strength of a political system depends upon the full and willing participation of its citizens.” We have voted and the election is done, but the concerns and fears left by such a terribly contentious political process remain. Our beliefs now guide us forward with a deep sense of responsibility.
Our Social Principles clearly state that “The Church should continually exert a strong ethical influence upon the state, supporting policies and programs deemed to be just and opposing policies and programs that are unjust.” So, if the racist, misogynist, xenophobic, uncaring and dishonest attitudes of the race for the presidency should surface in the policies and programs of the Trump administration we have much work to do as persons of Christian faith. Vigilance with a readiness to act will be required of all of us.
But between now and January 20, 2017 there is already work to be done. There are young people who are undocumented who fear that a wall will be built, so high that it will forever separate them from their families and God’s preferred future for them. Women are concerned that their hard fought-for rights will be diminished if not erased. Some of our brothers and sisters of other living faiths are discerning the difficult decision of whether they remain in this country, their home, or return to the countries of their heritage, beloved places but no longer home to them. The economically poor are fearful that their despair will be no one’s concern, compassion having gone missing in the political rhetoric, justice, a responsibility of civil society, ignored.
However we may have voted I pray that we remember that above all, above political parties and nation states, we are those who follow Jesus Christ alone, citizens of the reign of God. I believe that on this day Jesus is beckoning us to join him in walking with those who are suffering most, those who are broken in spirit and body, those who are living in fear and have lost hope. Following Jesus and standing with and caring for those whom Jesus also loves, may require that we challenge the political powers of our time. Let us be people of Christian faith, unafraid, for the God of justice will be with us.
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño
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