Friday, November 7, 2008

Not Qualified? Really?!

My brother has gotten into an interesting and apparently ongoing email exchange with a friend of ours. A former classmate of ours from high school whose friendship with me as a fellow high school footballer mirrored that of the black and white team mates in the movie, 'Remember the Titans'. "Fred" (not his real name), has evidently become a 'right wing evangelical' or at least a 'right wing independent' whose learned to mouth the values of right wing evangelicals.

I joined the email conversation, after being unable bear the weakness of some of what our friend was saying. Until finally he wrote something that kind of blew me away. Here is part of his message:

"...disobedience happens on both sides of the political spectrum….because again, the focus has been on the selfish, human desires looking for government to solve the problem."

"If we really practiced what we profess to believe, then neither McCain or Obama is a candidate qualified to lead a Godly people."

As an American, I was insulted by the statement. As a black man, and as a Christian I am angered by the arrogance of such a statement.

One of the things I wrote in reply was, "I checked the ballot - we weren't electing a 'pastor in chief'. We elected the chief executive of our country and we don't have (nor have we ever had) perfect candidates or presidents."

I don't consider myself an intellectual or a theologian, I do recognize a lack of theological depth and intellectual honesty in so much of what comes from that side of the church aisle.

Don't get me wrong, theologically I am more conservative than liberal, but what I have known and experienced and what I have learned about the God of the Bible from which I preach and from which I have been taught all my life, simply will not comport with the distorted nature of what some evangelicals believe and promote.

Interestingly enough, all of those who are 'qualified to lead a godly people', decided that they didn't have the courage or the stamina to withstand the scrutiny, of a presidential run. Perhaps they couldn't raise the money (I remember, a year or so ago, Chris Matthews of MSNBC, bemoaning the presence of big money in politics and then sighing and saying, 'I guess if you can't raise the money, maybe you shouldn't run for the office').

I didn't like what McCain became during his presidential run; I did not agree with his choice for running mate and I disagreed with his vision for our country. But he is qualified to be president. Obama is a Christian, you may not like his former pastor, but it is the height of self righteousness to believe that because you don't agree with his policies regarding abortion, or because he will neither engage in demeaning or discriminating against homosexuals, that he is not 'qualified' to lead the 'godly people' of the U.S. This is the type of religious bigotry and insanity that we say characterizes Middle East Islamic extremists. I find it deplorable.

What is missed by Fred and others who believe as they do, is that on November 4, this country peacefully transcended the violent hatred, bigotry and oppression which characterized most of the history of this country when it comes to race.

We redeemed a caricature of country in the eyes of the world: a world which waited with tip-toe anticipation to see if we could reject the racism that they knew was a part of our past and present - even as we lectured them on human rights - and elect a leader whose skin is dark and whose name is Muslim. And we did! That's why we not only celebrated this victory in the streets of cities across this nation, but there was celebration in the streets of cities all over the globe.

When black people fought for the right to vote in Selma, Alabama, they were trampled by horses hooves, shocked with cattle prods, beaten with billy clubs and humiliated with tear gas, by police! A white clergyman named James Reeb, was beaten to death, by white terrorists because he dared showed solidarity with black people; it took the federalization of the Alabama National Guard to protect protesters who finally marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Because she picked up a black rider after the march, a white woman, Viola Liuzzo, was murdered by white terrorists.

Forty-three years later, after the blood of these two brave Americans, mingled with the blood of Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, Jimmie Lee Jackson, Goodman, Cheney and Schwerner, Emmit Till and Martin Luther King, watered the political, spiritual and social soil of our nation and produced a young black politician - the son of a white woman and an African immigrant, possessed of a quiet certitude and tremendous courage not yet fully appreciated, offered himself up to his fellow citizens as a candidate for the presidency of our country. Old people who thought it would never happen; middle age people who said, 'Maybe someday, but probably not in our lifetime and young people who said, 'Why not?', joined together and cast ballots that said, 'Yes we Can'. They voted for him and he won. Evangelical Christians were in that number, so were progressive Christians, so were Muslims, agnostics, atheists, gay and straight people. They all said 'He's qualified'. The Constitution of the United States, which provides no color or religious requirements to be considered to occupy the office, says, 'He's qualified'.

The truly Godly people, who have prayed to see this day and who have long asked God for the day when they could feel that their voices were heard as true Americans; the truly Godly people whom he does lead as President, said he was qualified.

And now they say, 'Amen' and 'Thank God', because that's what truly Godly people do.


Anonymous said...

You are so right Gerald. Thank you for sharing this.

Some will never see because they are blind.

lela said...

I linked to you this morning.

—Alan said...

Great thoughts! Your comments really help a lot of people frame their responses to others. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

"They voted for him and he won. Evangelical Christians were in that number, so were progressive Christians, so were Muslims, agnostics, atheists, gay and straight people."

Yes Gerald, I am sure all those who voted for Barack Obama were "truly Godly people, and true Americans."

Gerald Britt said...

Very glad you agree!