Last week, I was at my fall Bethany Fellows retreat, with 30-odd other young clergy, and we got to meet Sr. Simone Campbell (the nun who started the “Nuns on the Bus” tour). Sr. Simone has been involved in social justice advocacy for nearly 40 years, fighting on behalf of the poor, lobbying in Washington, D.C.. She talked about Paul’s metaphor for the church being the Body of Christ, and how, after some discernment, she has come to see her role in the Body, as the stomach acid. She didn’t go into great depth about this, but one might imagine the Body of Christ (again, we're talking about the Church) needing a little indigestion every now and then as motivation to live a healthier lifestyle.
The main thing Sr. Simone told us, and what I’ll always remember her saying, was, “faith has political consequences.”
Faith is supposed to be private in our culture, something we keep to ourselves and don’t talk about.
Political consequences? That would mean we might have to be more open about our faith, to come out of the closet even, as a person of faith.
Are you sure about that Sister?
Every four years we have, “the most important election in our lifetime”. But this time—this is certainly the most consequential election that I think we’ve seen in a very long time. The consequences of our voting (or not voting as it were) could be significant. But I don’t think Sr. Simone was just talking about elections. I think the idea of faith having political consequences is that all of us need to realize that what we say we believe has an impact on the life we live as citizens in an interdependent world.
If your faith calls you to be compassionate to refugees, your faith isn’t just depending on you to vote, it’s calling you to pick refugees up at the airport, help them learn English, and help them to get a job. If your faith calls you to be compassionate toward the poor, your faith isn’t just calling on you to vote, it’s calling upon you to look at the economic structures of society that depend upon poor people to stay in debt, or, the systems that deny hardworking people a living wage and affordable housing. If your faith calls you to dismantle white supremacy in our society, your faith isn’t just depending on you to vote, your faith is calling on you to talk to your police departments and demand that they treat all citizens with decency and humanity. It’s calling on you to contact your school districts to make sure that discipline and academic standards are applied with justice, and not favoring white students over black students.
Faith has political consequences. This does mean you need to vote. But if you believe what you say you believe, about how God’s children are treated in this world, then you can’t stop there.
What are the political consequences of your faith?