It’s Time for Progressive People of Faith to Speak Up

Editor’s Note: Please give a warm Raging Chicken welcome to our newest contributor, Pastor Speakout. We have long hoped to begin this kind of conversation in Raging Chicken. Welcome aboard!

An eternity ago in this election cycle (otherwise known as two months ago) Donald Trump was widely criticized for his failure to quickly disavow the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, David Duke. He was, rightly so, called to task over stumbling over questions regarding the endorsement of a white supremacist and asked numerous questions regarding his popularity amongst white supremacist, and hate filled, organizations.

On April 4th, Samantha Bee posted a YouTube videos for fans of her show Full Frontal while the show took a week off. The video highlighted three endorsements that Ted Cruz has received from “religious leaders” and shared some excerpts of their proclaimed positions on homosexuality, Islam, Judaism, and Adolf Hitler. It is a hysterical piece that is definitely worth five minutes of your time.

What is striking is the difference in reaction amongst the media and amongst people. While Donald Trump was immediately called out for receiving such a horrible endorsement and not immediately distancing himself, Ted Cruz has not only failed to distance himself from the endorsements of figures such as Kevin Swanson, Flip Benham, Mike Bickle, Ron Baity, James Dobson, and Tony Perkins but he has in fact enthusiastically embraced such endorsements with official press releases from his campaign.

How is any of this possibly acceptable? White supremacists spew their hatred based upon nothing other than race; but, the religious figures endorsing Ted Cruz hide behind religion and their own interpretations of the Bible to spew just as much hatred. Why should the cloak of religion allow such bigotry and vitriol?

As a progressive in both the political sense and the religious sense I find the lack of condemnation for Ted Cruz appalling, especially the failure of progressive religious communities to speak out. Many progressive Christian groups have a long history of supporting immigration, refugees, interfaith relations, and equal rights. We have a proud tradition of hearing in our faith communities the call to love our neighbor as ourselves, to forgive, and to welcome all people. Yet, we allow these hate mongers to hide behind the guise of faith and we allow our political candidates to enthusiastically receive their support.

There is no place for hatred, violence, anger, or bigotry in the faith that I know, practice, and lead. In the faith that I know, practice, and lead, there is no place for calling Muslim children “murderers,” or saying that the LGBTQ community wants you “dead.” The call of faith is one of inclusion, acceptance, mutual care and consideration, love, and hope. To allow these individuals to speak on behalf of the Christian faith, and to ignore a presidential candidates willing and eager acceptance of their endorsements must be exposed and criticized.

Progressives in the church have a long history of doing good work; but, we also have a long history of keeping our mouths shut. It’s not all that different from the political spectrum where the voices of hope, inclusion, and progress are often drowned out by the voices of anger, exclusion, and fear. But progressive Christians must join into the work of progressive politics and speak up. No longer can we excuse figures such as Benham, Bickle, Swanson, Perkinds, Dobson, and Baity. No longer can we allow that to be the picture of faith that it is acceptable. No longer can we allow individuals to speak hatred under the guise of speaking for Jesus. It is time that we speak.

Samantha Bee is awesome and Full Frontal, like The Daily Show, The Nightly Show, and Last Week Tonight, does an amazing job of shining the light on the hypocrisy and ridiculousness of the political process, but it cannot be only the work of comedic news shows to speak out against these things. It is time for progressive people of faith to speak up as well and to call individuals like Ted Cruz to task for gleefully accepting endorsements of bigots and hate mongers. It is time for progressive people of  faith to have a voice and speak out against all those who would invoke Jesus to promote discrimination, violence, exclusion, and anger.

Donald Trump gets called out for not immediately disavowing the endorsement of white supremacists. How long must we wait for Ted Cruz to be widely called out for accepting endorsements from individuals who actively promote discrimination, hatred, and violence? Samantha Bee closes her video with: “when Democrats start calling for the execution of gays and Muslims, I promise, I will hit them just as hard.”

So will I. But, let’s start with the guy who is currently accepting endorsements from hate groups right now.

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