A Piece of Mike’s Mind… (Politics from the pulpit?)
Recently, the question was asked at First Unitarian, “How can you become truly diverse when you only support liberal positions?”
It is my privilege to answer.
I share these thoughts because you have a right to know where your minister is coming from. It is also my privilege to unequivocally state that nothing I write here or speak from the pulpit includes an expectation of anyone’s agreement or endorsement.
Without doubt, in the past few years I have spoken about #MeToo, women’s rights, racism, Supreme Court confirmations, presidents lying, refugee children in cages, impeachment hearings, presidential abuses of power, attacks on the press, denial of climate change, political corruption, mass incarceration of people of color, decisions I believe exhibit poor judgement like abandoning international treaties and agreements, the fallacies of trickle-down economics, and much more.
I am aware that many if not all of these could be interpreted as “liberal” positions, however, I do not accept that label. To the best of my memory, I have been careful to NOT identify with any particular political party, candidate, or ideology.
What I do identify with, explicitly and religiously, are matters of morality. It is morally wrong to imprison immigrant and refugee children. I don’t see this as liberal or conservative, I see it as wrong. No ambiguity. It is morally wrong to use the power of political office for personal political gain. Full stop. It is morally wrong to make false accusations against the press, public servants, Gold Star families, or anyone else who points out obvious falsehoods. There is no doubt about this. In a democracy, I believe it is morally wrong to sell economic theories of taxation that have consistently and empirically proven harmful to the poor and middle-class. Etc.
Again, I don’t see these are political positions. I see them as moral positions. And, I believe the church and people of faith have an obligation to speak on moral issues that affect the lives of people and vulnerable communities, people we believe are sacred and worthy.
I am also deeply uncomfortable with simplistic labels like liberal or conservative when applied to complex issues, as if either of those words are definitive. It is perfectly possible and reasonable to despise abortion and still support a woman’s right to choose. It is perfectly possible and reasonable to support a strong and enforceable immigration policy and still believe that deportations, refugee detentions, and walls are wasteful, short-sighted, and unnecessarily cruel. It is possible to be offended by (and set limits on) political lies and corruption, even if it’s someone from your own preferred party. In a complex and dangerous world, it is possible to acknowledge the need for a strong military and still despise war. Etc.
These only scratch the surface, but our national dialogue would greatly benefit from more nuanced distinctions, less labelling, and a deeper commitment to truth-telling when immoral policies or decisions result in people and whole communities being hurt.
This is where I’m coming from when it comes to politics from the First Unitarian Denver pulpit. I hope these comments are clarifying and helpful. I do not intend to stop.