Many years ago, my dad lovingly and without a hint of irony referred to me as “his social justice warrior.” At the time, my dad was in his early 70s and had no idea how that particular term had been usurped and twisted into something ugly by little men wielding perceived power from the safety of their computer keyboards.
My dad was just so proud that my wife and I had joined in a protest–signs and chants and all–against the passage of Proposition 8 in California. He saw me as someone willing to stand up and speak out for what I believed in, and to him, that was a very good thing.
Over the course of this blog, I’ve tried to keep my politics out of the admixture. I thought because this blog is connected to our business, my political opinions might scare away customers. So, while my whole life since November 2016 has been focused on politics, and the duty we have to be socially and politically involved in all levels of government, I kept my blog posts strictly spiritual.
As if spirituality and politics have not gone hand in hand for millennia.
The first human civilizations were steeped in spirituality, with blurry lines between faith and civic activities for the majority of human history. It’s true that the Constitution protects the separation of Church and State (at least, it does at the time of this writing. With the Republicans controlling two and a half branches of the government, who knows what’s in store?) But to ignore the connection between spirituality and social activism in the United States is to turn a blind eye to the strong influence of faith on the greatest movements in our history.
Civil Rights: The Jim Crow laws enacted in the South after the Civil War severely limited the ability of African Americans to gather in large numbers in public. One of the few exceptions was made for religious services. Since church was one of few places large numbers of blacks could gather without suspicion, it was a logical place for discussions of civil injustice. Many African American leaders, such as Ida B Wells, Martin Luther King, and Rosa Parks got their start as activists in the church. Groups like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) emerged from the traditionally black churches of the South.
Women’s Rights: While modern culture sees religion and feminism as diametrically opposed, one of our most beloved feminist leaders, Susan B Anthony, had a progressive, egalitarian Quaker upbringing. Through her exposure to the Quaker faith, Susan learned early that men and women had an equal voice in society, and this served her well as she struggled to bring suffrage to the women of the United States. While her counterpart, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, had strong objections to the Christian faith, Anthony remained faithful her entire life.
Healthcare and Financial Well-Being: Back in 1971, a group of nuns formed a nationwide network to engage in political activism. In 2012, when Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R) proposed an austerity budget that would harm millions of poor Americans, Nuns on the Bus became a national phenomenon. As recently as October 2018, these nuns have been on the road addressing everything from tax policy to civic engagement to economic justice.
The fact is, faith and activism go hand in hand. So I will no longer hold back my activism on this blog. If that offends you, I do apologize. But I also know that, we probably wouldn’t have made a good match anyway.
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Peace and Love,