The Nashville Statement and The Christian Manifesto

The Nashville Statement and The Christian Manifesto
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While most American hearts and minds are still reeling over Charlottesville in the midst of havoc from Hurricane Harvey, over 150 fundamentalist evangelical leaders came together to release “The Nashville Statement” an eight-page manifesto expressing unloving views on homosexuality.

“The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” released their condemnations to be a guide for churches on how to address issues of sexuality as it underscores their denial of what Jesus was all about: LOVE!

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”- 1 John 4:8

By Eileen Fleming

Eighty percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump.

Since the election, the most fundamentally minded have become the religious group with the most access and influence in the White House.

“The Nashville Statement” was written in response to the fundamentalist fears of compassionate and growing acceptance of same-sex marriage and transgender rights.

The Nashville Statement was signed by at least two fundamentalists known to be among President Trump’s few dozen evangelical advisers — Jack Graham, a Southern Baptist pastor, and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.

The New York Times reported that Tony Perkins urged Trump to issue his declaration that transgender people would be banned from the military.

Denny Burk, president of the council said: “The aim of The Nashville Statement is to shine a light into the darkness — to declare the goodness of God’s design in our sexuality and in creating us as male and female.”

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood was founded in 1987 to challenge what they viewed as “secular feminism.”

The council’s co-founder, John Piper, a Baptist pastor, wrote that The Nashville Statement addresses the “destructive consequences” of an inclusive culture; and thus they deny the inclusivity of Jesus who preferred the company of the poor and oppressed and always challenged hypocrites and self-righteous teachers of the law.

Among those rebuking the declaration is Nashville’s mayor, Megan Barry.

On Tuesday Barry tweeted the “so-called ‘Nashville statement’ is poorly named and does not represent the inclusive values of the city & people of Nashville.”

The Nashville Statement does not represent the inclusive values of Jesus, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. nor Dorothy Day who proclaimed:

Our manifesto is the Sermon on the Mount, which means that we will try to be peacemakers.

My spin on The Sermon on The Mount

When Jesus of Nazareth was about 33 he hiked up a hill, sat down under an olive tree and began to teach the people:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”

In other words: it is those who know their own spiritual poverty, their own limitations and ‘sins’ honestly and trust God loves them in spite of themselves who already live in the Kingdom of God.

How comforted we will all be, when we see, we haven’t got a clue, as to the depth and breadth of pure love and mercy of The Divine Mystery of The Universe.

God’s name in ancient Aramaic is Abba which means Daddy as much as Mommy and He/She: The Lord has said, “My ways are not your ways. My thoughts are not yours.” -Isaiah 55:8

Jesus said: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

The essence of meek is to be patient with ignorance, slow to anger and never hold a grudge. In other words: how comforted you will be when you also know humility; when you know yourself, the good and the bad, for both cut through every human heart.

Jesus continued, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they will be filled.”

In other words: how comforted you will be when your greatest desire is to do what “God requires, and he has already told you what that is; BE JUST, BE MERCIFUL and walk humbly with your Lord.”-Micah 6:8

Jesus affirmed, “Blessed are the merciful, they will be shown mercy.”

In other words: how comforted you will all be when you choose to return only kindness to your ‘enemy.’

“For with the measure you measure against another, it will be measured back to you” Christ warns as he explains the law of karma in Luke 6:27-38.

Jesus knew, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they see God.”

In other words: how comforted you will be when you WAKE UP and see God is already within you, within every man, every woman and every child. The Supreme Being is everywhere, the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. Beyond The Universe -and yet so small; within the heart of every atom.

Jesus promised, “Blessed are The Peacemakers: THEY shall be called the children of God.”

And what a wonderful world it would be when we all seek peace by pursuing justice; for there can be none without the other….

In his manifesto from Birmingham Jail, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. directly challenged his “fellow clergymen.”

 I have taken a few liberties with King’s masterpiece, added a few words of mine in bold and offer it as the seeds for a Citizens of Conscience Manifesto

I am on the internet because injustice can be expressed here. I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in comfort and not be concerned about what happens in Israel Gaza Palestine.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives in the world can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; examining one’s motives and acting on conscience with direct action.

Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.

Too long has The Peace Process been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. We must come to see that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

There are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.

Segregation [Translates to Apartheid in Afrikaner] distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I it” relationship for an “I thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things.

Hence segregation; apartheid, conscription and military occupation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound; it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness?

An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.

One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and it was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.

Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever and if repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. [End of Letter from Birmingham Jail]

 

In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, King reminded his fellow clergymen that Jesus was an extremist for love who taught his follower’s to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despite-fully use you, and persecute you.”

King recalled to his fellow clerics that the Hebrew prophet Amos was an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.”

The world is pulled to change by extremism and our only dilemma is what will we be extremists for? Hate or love? God or State? The preservation of injustice or the extension of justice; equal human rights?

 

The clinging to the status quo is a form of extremism for all around US are the deep groans from the oppressed, as King addressed from his jail cell:

Few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. Too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.

There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.”‘

Small in number, they were big in commitment and by their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an arch defender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twenty-first century.

King wondered if organized religion was too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world. He knew that “Any nation that year after year continues to raise the Defense budget while cutting social programs to the neediest is a nation approaching spiritual death.”

We who claim to be Christian are called to love our enemies and that the daughters and sons of God are the peacemakers.

The last words Jesus spoke to his follower’s before his martyrdom was to “put down the sword” and his first words after his resurrection was “My peace be with you.”

While he lived the FBI placed wiretaps on Reverend King’s home and office phones and bugged his hotel rooms throughout the country.

By 1967, King had become the country’s most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of U.S. foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic.

In his “Beyond Vietnam” speech delivered at New York’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 [a year to the day before he was murdered] King called the United States “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”

In 1986 the federal government ‘honored’ King with a national holiday.

America was founded by visionaries, rebels, agitators, dissidents, fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers who essentially told the King of England to back off of this land and leave US alone.

The most revolutionary minded of all America’s founding fathers was Tom Paine, who articulated a flaming hope birthed in a vision of a new world driven by the spirit of independence from a British occupation.

Tom Paine’s self published forty page pamphlet, “Common Sense” united a disparate and disconnected group of settlers to become compatriots who rose up in rebellion and formed a nation that can only thrive on dissent.

Soon after I had published the pamphlet “Common Sense” [on Feb. 14, 1776] in America, I saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion… The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.-Thomas Paine

 

Eileen Fleming is TADN’s volunteer Health Reporter and Senior Non-Arab Correspondent 


Fleming produced the UNCENSORED “30 Minutes with Vanunu” Mordechai, Israel’s nuclear whistleblower


Contact her HERE

 

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This post has been viewed 5353 times.

Eileen Fleming

Senior Non-Arab Correspondent for TADN at The Arab Daily News
Senior Non-Arab Correspondent for The Arab Daily News
Producer "30 Minutes with Vanunu" who founded WeAreWideAwake.org in response to her first of 8 trips to both sides of The Wall in Palestine Israel.
In 2012, Eileen ran for US House of Representatives District 5, in Fl.
Read her FREE eBooks and more at:http://www.eileenfleming.org/
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  • andrewalcock

    No-one should be surprised that fundamentalist leaders in the US have an unloving attitude towards gay people.

    The same people have supported the extreme right in US politics since its founding.

    They have also been strong supporters of Zionism in Israel because they believe that Jews are god’s chosen people. And the assumption is that they can do not wrong. They try to justify the terrorist takeover of Palestinian lands by the Zionist gangs (the Irgung, Hagana and Stern) after WW2 as though it was god’s will and not a crime against humanity as it was. It is amazing that they think this even though they should realise that many Palestinian Christians have suffered as much from the Zionist Israel takeover as have their Muslim compatriots.

    The Family, the Tea Party, the Moral Majority, Moral Rearmament etc. are all groups supported by extremely right wing fundamentalist Christians in the US that have supported US Military Industrial Complex wars and repressive regimes around the world for many decades.

    Billy Graham, a very conservative fundamentalist, has been a long time supporter of The Family and Zionist Israel. He was also the chaplain to a number of US presidents. During one of his discussions with Richard Nixon, the US president who did so much to destroy Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, the two men expressed their views about Israel and Jewish people. It turns out that they both expressed great support for Zionist Israel while, at the same time, came out with anti-semitic views!.

    These people memorise large chunks of the Bible for their own use, but do not seem to have any understanding of the teachings of the founder of Christianity who was a radical and caring man who worked for peace and social justice.

    The struggle for all people of good will – whether they be religious or not – is to work together to build peace, social justice, equality for all, human rights and effective care of our environment.

    Solidarity with the Palestinians and other oppressed peoples around the world – West Papuans and Achenese at the hands of the Indonesian military, Rohingyas at the hands of the Myanmar military, indigenous peoples etc!