“[The Right-wing’s] relentless barrage of anti-government propaganda has not yet succeeded in drumming up popular support for the Right, but it has had another, perhaps more insidious, effect; that of fomenting disillusionment and disgust for politics in general. This is a particularly dangerous, demobilizing discourse in a country famous for its radical mass movements, organized revolutionary communities, and martyrs for social and economic justice.” (Jacobin, vol 25, page 25)
Above is a quotation from the most recent publication of Jacobin, a magazine that prides itself on being rooted in Socialist ideals. The article in which the quote can be found discusses the continuous work of Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) and Salvadoran political leader Lorena Peña. Peña has been fighting the right wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) and its ultra-conservative agenda for almost twenty years; and yet the article describes a hopeful and very active political reformer. I found solace, as well as a call to action, in the quote above regarding Peña’s revolutionary work.
It seems that every bit of information coming out of Washington D.C. is tarred with right wing anti-government propaganda. Just today (May 23rd), President Trump issued his proposed budget, which slashes social safety net programs and organizations while investing heavily in the military-industrial complex. As breaking news alerts ping my phone, I cannot help but feel disgusted with U.S. politics. It seems that this administration rules with a big mouth and a big stick, as well as wishes to dismantle the democratic foundation upon which this country was founded. And all of this can seem overwhelming and lead to disillusionment–i.e. that politics cannot be changed and will forever be corrupt. However, that is not the feeling that I get when meeting with our scheduled faith based advocacy organizations.
Though there is general frustration with the current administration’s actions and policies, these organizations still exude hope, action, and faith. Our first day of meetings revolved around immigration issues such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportations and the response of sanctuary cities and churches; refugee resettlement programs and how to address the root causes of the Syrian Civil War; and ecumenical and interfaith advocacy being at the heart of nonpartisan faith based activism.
We learned that being Christian (or religious) is equivalent to being involved with the political processes of the world. What I mean by this is that Christianity is inherently active in addressing systematic oppression and issues because of its rootedness in scripture, prophetic witness, and Jesus’ own public actions. Public policy activism rises organically from within Christianity; it is the yeast in the Body of Christ. And we Christians and religious individuals are called to this type of ministry. We are to be a witness and advocate to the Last, Least, and Lost; and we can give hope to the world through this advocacy.
An important fact and revelation that we received today–which is particularly pertinent to today’s budget proposal–is that a budget is a moral and ethical document. Where we as a nation put our money is where we put our hearts. A budget is a statement of values, and the Church and other religious institutions must step in to provide moral and ethical counsel in order to advocate for a just and free society. Again, it is our job–the job of all faithful people–to not give in to disgust and disillusionment of the political processes. We must remain hopeful, even in a time filled with anti-government propaganda. We as faith leaders must address the elephant and donkey in the room, and give both sides of the aisle not only testimonies and stories, but also hard data and organized activism. We must be a part of the political process while also remembering our role as the very members incorporate of the mystical Body of God, and that as citizens of God’s Kingdom we are called to bring Heaven to Earth. For the Kingdom of God is already among and within us, but it must be acted out into the world in order for Justice to reign and Love to rule.