We are preachers from a strong, Progressive Prophetic tradition. I am T. J. Williams from The United Church of Christ and a member of the Riverside Church, NYC and Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago. Father Reinhart is Episcopalian. We believe that Jesus calls us to work for the full inclusion of racial minorities, women and GLBT people in the life of the nation and the church. Both of us have worked as Community Organizers and both of us see our work, (raising up the needy, feeding the poor, ridding our cities of crime and drugs, and working for justice and equality), as a vital part of God's work in the world.
Long before Senator Obama used the term "lipstick on a pig", Senator McCain was actively talking about, and actively participating in, "putting lipstick on pigs." He seemed to use the full weight of his office to support over 95% of President Bush's "ham-fisted policies" and his meaty," porcine" military budgets. Let us hope that, one day, McCain's cosmetically enhanced hogs will all come home looking for their master.
Today, we are all worried that Mr. McCain is doing something much worse than putting lipstick on pigs. As he pushes for more and more war... more and more drilling... more and more dependence on American and foreign oil...more and more undermining of the American economy... and more and more power for right-wing religious extremists in government, we can see that he is doing much more than putting lipstick on pigs. He is putting bandages on a cancer and perfume on a gunshot wound.
Now, he has given us Sarah Palin. In her speech at the GOP Convention, Governor Palin viciously attacked Senator Obama by attacking the kind of people who dedicate their lives to healing the damage that politicians like her do to our nation. She said, "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities".
As we listened to Mrs. Palin attack Senator Obama for being a community organizer, we asked ourselves, "Did she take even a moment to think about the thousands of community organizers who worked to heal this nation long before Senator Obama started his work"?
In addition, we asked ourselves, "Does this woman, who claims to be a Christian, even understand the Bible"? If she did, she would realize that the Old Testament prophets John the Baptist, the Apostles and even Jesus himself, functioned as Community Organizers. Moreover, does she realize that many of the great advocates for justice and equality in our age... Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, Jane Adams, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Troy Perry, Bishop Robinson... and the list goes on and on... also worked as Community Organizers?
We all accept the fact that senators and congressional representatives represent the interests of the people, especially the rich and powerful people, who sent them to Washington. We have higher expectations of a President. A President is supposed to represent the interests of all Americans, from the richest to the poorest; every race, gender, social class, language and sexual orientation. A President's calling is to work for the welfare, protection, justice, economic opportunities and social improvement of all the people of our nation, no matter whom they may be. In a way, a President's calling to be the lead Community Organizer for the entire country.
Senator Obama tells us that he heard his calling to be president as he walked the streets of Chicago, organizing communities in one of our nation's most culturally socially and racially diverse cities. In the State Capital, he helped organize leaders and programs from every community across the state of Illinois. As a senator in Washington and as a candidate for president, he has become a familiar presence in every community across the land. The senator has claimed, repeatedly, that he sees gay and lesbian people as being part of his community.
Now we live in a world that is violence-filled. Wars rage across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The Cold War seems to be heating up again. Drug wars flash up sporadically in Central and South America. According to many reports, President Bush's War on Terror has not made any person or nation more secure. Many of us can still remember the days of open racial warfare in this nation as the KKK led brutal attacks against the Black Community. Women and Homosexuals have to be watchful and protective to guard against homophobic and sexual assaults. Both of us have spent much of our careers working to end religious and racial wars and to stop anti-gay violence.
This was another reason we were dismayed by some of Ms. Palin's comments at the GOP convention, and by her subsequent campaign speeches. Her words and McCain's policies do not reflect the suffering of the poor. She did not tell us how she intends to care for needy people, single mothers, (other than her own daughter), people without jobs, people without healthcare or veterans and wounded soldiers who are denied their health benefits. She did not tell how she would protect the rights or job equality and benefits of Lesbians and Gays.
We need to say something unpleasant right about now. Our brothers and sisters from the Log-Cabin Republicans, (LGBT Republicans), may have found a lot to like in Sarah Palin's speech. However, they should not be in denial about it. She did not talk about our justice and equality. She only gave indirect slams against our grassroots efforts toward marriage equality. She gave the party rallying cry to energize the base to attack our community and she carefully failed to mention her active membership in a church that is in the forefront of James Dobson's attacks on us.
Many people are deeply dissatisfied with Senator McCain's choice of Sarah Palin for his Vice Presidential running mate. Although Palin is a woman, the advocates for woman's equality believe that she will undermine the rights of women with respect to job equality and health-care. Although she is from the beautiful northern wilderness, environmentalists know that she will give her state, and all our states, over to the aggressive exploitation of corporations and Oil Companies. Although her own family is dealing with sexual scandal, gay and lesbian people fear that she hopes to usher in a new age of homophobia and legalized sexual oppression. Even though McCain claims she is ready to be President, the whole world fears what could happen if her finger were on the proverbial button.
In the Bible Jesus tells us, "Blessed are the Peace makers". The prophets of the Old Testament promise God's blessings on those who build a world of justice, equality, love and peace. If McCain and Palin win the election and especially if they continue to carry out Bush's Republican policies of injustice, inequality, unemployment and war, then America will be anything but blessed.
Minister, Mr. T.J. Williams Minister in Training
The Rev. Rod Reinhart