Daily Planet, 5/2016
An obscure Republican Congressman from Michigan wrote something truly remarkable:
“The Christian who enters politics must do so with the aim of achieving political justice. He does this by subjecting his own personal ambition and desires to the scrutiny of God’s revelation in the Scriptures. And as God gives the grace to do so, he learns to make the needs of his neighbor his own. In so doing, his search for justice becomes an act of sacrificial love.”
Paul Brentwood Henry served four terms and was elected to a fifth term when he died in 1993. He was a solid evangelical conservative. His congressional district included super-conservative Grand Rapids.
What did Henry write here? He verbalized an attitude, didn’t he – a magnificent outlook on power. It’s almost like he’s saying: The more power Christians gain, the more they should be servants of the people.
Jesus taught his disciples (Luke 22:26): “The one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.”
As a member of Congress, Henry had real political power. And yet he writes about subjecting personal ambition and desire to the needs of others. He even calls it sacrificial love.
It goes without saying that this philosophy should guide all politicians, Christian or not – humbly, diligently accepting as one’s life priority the needs of one’s neighbor. After all, the citizen legislator is literally representing his neighbors.
Conveniently for this discussion, we have a large group of Christians with political power right here in North Carolina: the majority Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly. They certainly make much of their faith, and they certainly have power.
How are they doing?
I’ve heard Raleigh Republicans called hypocrites and “pseudo-Christians.” Maybe that’s because for their five years in power, they haven’t done anything that could remotely be called selfless service to the people.
They took power in 2010 through a vicious, rotten campaign of character assassinations, and they’ve consistently followed that model ever since.
Deception. Right after taking power in 2011, they staged hearings around the state to get citizen input on redistricting. But what do you know, that was precisely the time when their computers were slicing up counties and precincts to create districts that ensure huge Republican majorities. There was no debate and no explanations. Election outcomes are now automatic – so citizen neighbors’ votes are meaningless.
Lying. I’ll choose two from a five-year stream of lies. Claiming “voter fraud,” Republicans enacted a sweeping “election reform” package in 2013. It was, plain to the naked eye, designed to suppress Democrat voting. In fact, studies have shown that voter fraud is almost nonexistent. Investigations found 31 cases of voter impersonation in a billion votes cast.
The now-famous House Bill 2 gave Republicans a grand stage for lying. The whole idea, plain again, is to stir up evangelical voters ahead of November’s general election by squelching the growing gay rights movement. The“men in women’s locker rooms” allegation is a duh-level disguise. Those of you who are familiar with HB2, get a pad and count the lies in this interview with Dan Bishop, one of the GOP sponsors of HB2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJsOT53Atdo&feature=youtu.be.
Most Democrats in the General Assembly are Christians, too, of course, but they don’t parade their faith like Republicans do, and they don’t have power. They don’t have opportunity to demonstrate Paul Henry’s principle of of selfless service. Not yet anyway.
Wouldn’t you love to see the 2016 Democratic campaign strategy sound like Paul Henry wrote it? Maybe something like:
“We come to you as humble servants with only one goal: to make your life better. We’re not seeking power. We’re politicians, but we promise never to show it.”
I’m realistic enough to think it could happen.