Thursday, November 6, 2008

The election and respecting the dignity of every human being

A few quick reactions to the election: First, regardless of who you voted for, I think all of us can take a great deal of pride that American democracy worked and that an African American man was elected President. That is an amazing milestone that will resonate for generations. As President Bush put it yesterday, the inaugural of Barack Obama's will be an "inspiring moment that so many have awaited so long."

How we react as faithful people to the work ahead of us as a nation will be particularly telling. The election is only a new beginning to the work that has always been ours to do. Jim Wallis at Sojourners has placed on-line letter that calls upon the new President to focus on world-wide poverty and climate change, and pledges commitment by all who sign the letter to supporting our new President as he pursues those efforts. You can sign the pledge by clicking A Prayer & Pledge for Real Change. I will also keep the logo above on the left side of this blog for a time, and you can click on the logo (at left) to access the pledge.

As faithful people, there will be many tasks ahead of us in the years ahead. Our baptismal covenant pledges us to "respect the dignity of every human being" and to work for "justice and peace in the world." There will be many set backs along a rocky road, and there already have been a few, but we are called to respond with faith, hope and charity.

My own reaction to the election is tempered by the passage of Proposition 8 in California that would ban gay marriage, and similar measures that passed in other states. I am particularly disheartened that exit polling in California showed that Proposition 8 won support among many first-time voters who also voted for Obama. 

Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles issued this statement yesterday, worth quoting:

"I call upon Californians who supported Proposition 8 to make an honest and dedicated effort to learn more about the lives and experiences of lesbian and gay humanity whose constitutional rights are unfairly targeted by this measure. Look carefully at scriptural interpretations, and remember that the Bible was once used to justify slavery, among other forms of oppression.

It is important that we understand that we are a state that lives with freedom of religion – and freedom from religious oppression.

In my view, and in that of many Episcopalians, Proposition 8 is a lamentable expression of fear-based discrimination that attempts to deny the constitutional rights of some Californians on the basis of sexual orientation. It is only a matter of time before its narrow constraints are ultimately nullified by the courts and our citizens’ own increasing knowledge about the diversity of God’s creation.

Too often the road to justice is made deeply painful by setbacks such as Proposition 8, which nearly half of California voters rejected. But as our new President-elect has said, “…let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other." 

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