Tuesday, January 22


I don't generally steal quite so blatantly but this was written by my home pastor so I can't say that I feel too bad about it. All I can add to Rev Darby's words are "Amen".

King offers moral touchstone for vote
Special to The Post and Courier
Sunday, January 20, 2008

One of the more popular Christian phrases of the 1990s — "What Would Jesus Do" — actually goes back to "In His Steps," an 1896 book by congregationalist minister Charles Sheldon. Sheldon dealt with the application of Christianity to daily decisionmaking by asking, "What Would Jesus Do," portraying Jesus as a moral example as well as a savior figure. I thought of that phrase as America prepares to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday.
King Day 2008 is bracketed by Saturday's Republican Presidential Primary and next Saturday's Democratic Presidential Primary. Candidates in both parties often package their political positions in the language of faith, even though those positions are sometimes very different, and racial controversy has cropped up in the Democratic race over the role of Dr. King in the passage of the civil rights laws of the mid-20th century. Since Dr. King is seen by people of good will as a "drum major for justice" who reshaped public policy in America, and since Dr. King was also a Baptist minister, I couldn't help but consider the presidential primary rhetoric and ask myself, "What Would King Do?" The answer may lie in the divinely inspired words that he left behind, for Dr. King spoke of much more than judging people "not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
I am amused by the way some candidates in both parties shape their messages to appeal to emotions and trends instead of clearly stating their positions, and by the way they exercise great caution in tackling problems head on and working for timely change. They would do well to remember the words of Dr. King: "The time is always right to do what is right." They could then clearly and concretely state their positions, and embrace not just what rings in voters' ears, but what is right for our present needs as a nation.
I am troubled by candidates who stir controversy for controversy's sake and who limit their "morality" to matters of the flesh that cloud voters' visions of societal problems we're morally obligated to tackle. They would do well to remember the words of Dr. King: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' " The candidate who gets my vote will be the candidate who sees morality not just in terms of "who sleeps with whom," but in terms of feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and seeing that all citizens have an equal chance to achieve the elusive "American Dream."
I am disappointed to see how some candidates serenely and graciously claim the "high ground" of positive campaigning when they're comfortably leading in the polls, but quickly slip into the politics of accusation, insult and thinly veiled slander when their lead in the polls deteriorates. Too often they try to regain the lead by tearing into the opposition, and then become the picture of innocence and conciliation if the tactic backfires on them. They'd do well to remember the words of Dr. King: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge or controversy." The candidate who gets my vote will be the one who has a consistent message and well-articulated plan regardless of how the polls and political winds shift, for if one believes in what one says, then deviating from the message is unnecessary, even when others make mean-spirited attacks.
Dr. King changed America by practicing what he preached and by bringing the words of Christian Scripture to bear in a way that touched hearts, changed minds and shaped public policy. That's what I try to do in my ministry, especially prior to any election. I never tell people how to vote, for doing so insults their intelligence. I do, however, try to link public policy issues of the day to the Scriptures of my faith, welcome candidates to articulate their faith and positions to those in my congregation, then urge those in the congregation I serve to choose the candidate whose positions best reflect their faith.
I also urge all of those in my congregation and all Americans to go to the polls, to exercise their right to vote, and to do so in an informed way so that their faith speaks truth to power. Dr. King did that; as well-informed voters, we should, too. For Dr. King was on target when he said, "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."
The Rev. Joseph A. Darby is senior pastor at Morris Brown AME Church.

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Jay said...

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

Boy, isn't that the truth.

Susan said...

I swear I was about to say exactly what Jay did. Thus I'll just leave..


WNG said...

Jay - That's a great one, I know. This is honestly the first time that I wish I stille lived in SC.

Susan- happens to me all the time. Wait - no it doesn't, I always have something to say :)