Thursday, August 14, 2008

Update: Washington Post Article

**Here is the article: GOP Loyalty Not a Given for Young Evangelicals**

Leave comments and tell me what you think.

15 comments:

Albert G said...

I got your back... wayyyyyy back there.

haha.

Kevin said...

Mr. Merritt,

I would like to thank you for your openness in today's article in the WashPo. I found it to be an eye-opener on many levels.

Just as a point of reference, I grew up Christian (though under many different denominational headings), but converted to Judaism 10 years ago. My beliefs never completely fit into Christianity, from my liberal politics to my belief that G_d is not a haberdasher (ties in church...yech!).

One of the scriptures I have most believed in growing up (and one my very religious grandfather pounded into me) is "judge not, lest ye be judged." Hence, I am so close to being a libratarian (sic). I just believe that we must live our lives to what we believe in and act so that we are not hurting others. I live by my grandfathers words, "G_d put us on this earth for one purpose, to give to each other. When we are not giving, we are dying."

I am an Obama supporter, as you can probably guess. I understand your concern over abortion. I am not a fan of abortion, but again, I go back to the earlier verse as my political belief. I know that Obama has put into the platform words which I really believe on the subject...which is that we need to create the conditions so that abortion is no longer needed. Discouraging teenage pregnancy, encourging adoption services, encouraging education so that kids make smarter decisions, parents taking a much greater role in the teaching of values to their children. If these steps are taken, I believe abortion will not be the option that it currently is, whether it be legal or not.

Again, I thank you for your openness. I truely enjoyed reading your article, and will be making sure I have my cloth grocery bags in my car with me at all times because of your example.

Regards,

Kevin Brabant
Roswell, GA

Jonathan Merritt said...

Kevin-

Thank you so much for your kind words regarding the WashPost article. I am intrigued by your conversion experience as well as your opinions.

Of course, we would diverge at a few points. Namely, I believe that we have been put on this earth to glorify G-d through our relationship with Jesus Christ. However, when we live like Jesus lived and in a way that pleases Jesus, we WILL be giving to others. We will give love like Jesus gave love. We will give time like Jesus gave time. We will give our very lives to others, just as Jesus laid down his own. I think your grandfather was probably a very wise man.

Your story sounds intriguing and I see that you are located in Roswell. I would love to grab coffee sometime--on me!

Blessings,

Jm

Kevin said...

Jonathan,

I'd love to meet up with you to discuss life, politics, my experiences, whatever. I try never to deny a conversation where I can learn something new. And if you want to hear my political junkie whining, my blog is http://brabantnuttiness.blogspot.com/. It also has more general postings from before the campaign.

I'm doing my civic duty next week and serving on a jury here in Cobb. Hopefully not a boring case, for the last time I did so was a civil case between two large corporations arguing over a few thousand bucks. It was a waste of time. I work out of my house, so anytime you want to get together after next week, I'm probably available.

Just write me at my e-mail addy, kbrabant@aol.com.

Have a good day and weekend.

Kevin

bill813 said...

Hello Jonathan.

I also wanted to thank you for the openness of you and the others who were interviewed for the Washington Post article. Your friend Donnie McDaniel said that "as an evangelical Christian, no political party should be able to fully represent you because you are doing something counter-cultural". I agree with him and would add that no political party or political candidate is ever going to fully represent me or most other people who think about the whole picture of life.

It's sad to have to choose the lesser of two evils, but the reality is that in politics, this choice is usually what we are forced to do.

I am Jewish, but I work for a Christian university that believes in service work and nonviolence and I work for an institute within that university that specifically teaches peacebuilding. Over the years I have been at this university I have come to highly respect the teachings of Jesus Christ and follow his way towards peace, mercy, justice, and truth. This does not make me a "Christian" . . . but then again, neither was Jesus.

Although I would consider myself liberal on social issues, I think, after reading your letter, that we have a lot more in common than different. We may have different views on some social issues, but the bottom line is that we want all people in this country and in this world treated as people, not as chess pieces. We want to see less people dying and more people living full and quality lives.

The point I guess I am trying to make is that elections are not single issues. Nothing in life is, and anyone who tells you differently is either a politician or trying to sell you something. :)

We may disagree with a candidate on a social issue or an economic issue or a political issues, but if we agree with that candidate on most other issues, we need to vote for the most good.

Again, I highly respect you for the courage you and your friends showed in being interviewed for this article and hope that you can handle any of the negative feedback that you receive.

If you are interested in talking, or interested in a course or courses related to peacebuilding, send me an e-mail or look up our program, the Summer Peacebuilding Institute, www.emu.edu/spi.

In peace

Bill G

C said...

Hi Jonathan

I was intrigued by your article in the Post and your willingness to learn and grow within your faith and adopt ideas that are not currently mainstream. I am a Lesbian from New York City in a very stable longterm relationship who plans on having children with her partner and would like to do it within a government sanctioned "marriage". I have always wondered why people of faith, specifically Born again Christians, have taken such a strong stance against homosexuality. It seems so against the teachings of Jesus to persecute minorities for their perceived differences. It was not easy for me to become a confident productive member of society and redevelop my relationship with God because of the harsh stance various religions took against the homosexual community. I spent my teenage years and early twenties in depression and developed a panic disorder because I was trying to follow the advice of the church and "deny this part of me". Once I realized I had to choose between being the person God created me to be or take my own life, I started to heal. I chose to be something that I knew would be not understood by many but gave me the ability to be open and honest with the world, form a strong bond with my family, feel connected to God and start having loving relationships with others again. My struggle to buck the system we've created on earth and become the person God wanted me to be is the greatest lesson I could have learned in this life. I wonder if you and others fully understood that we (homosexuals) are just like you, you would have a different stance about letting all children of GOD have a union that holds their family together. We are your friends, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, mothers and fathers. We have left the rural communities and moved to the cities to seek the freedom to be who we are without the fear of being isolated, ridiculed, beaten up, murdered or raped by those who are afraid to accepted those who are not like them. I encourage you to open your heart and your mind and go speak with a variety of persons who have embraced the the love that God has place inside of them and choose to love another of the same sex. I feel you might not be able to deny that God lives in all of us and we too are part of his plan for us all to evolve into the likeness of Him which is Love.
With Love and Understanding of your fears. C

liz said...

As one who has lived and worked on Capitol Hill for nearly 30 years, I enjoyed reading about you in the POST. It is a great relief to see evangelicals thinking for themselves politically at last! I have long been amazed by how willingly and naively the religious right has allowed itself to be USED by the Republican party to forge the unlikely majority it has needed to maintain itself in office. The issues of abortion and gay marriage in particular have been cynically manipulated and perpetuated to persuade religious conservatives that they are natural Republicans -- when in reality, Republican economic policies jeopardize the livelihoods of all but the very rich, and many profoundly religious values are honored far more genuinely by Democratic viewpoints.

Shane "George" Lambert said...

Liz,

I would agree with you that evangelical Christians need to think for themselves politically. It bothers me when Republicans take it for granted that I'm going to vote for them. Sometimes I do (especially nationally), and sometimes I don't (more so locally). But it bothers me when politicians assume that a certain group (whether it be evangelicals for the Republicans or African Americans for the Democrats) is in their hip pocket. I'm not going to vote for any person just because their party's symbol is an elephant; I want to know what they stand for.

You said, "many profoundly religious values are honored far more genuinely by Democratic viewpoints." Which ones? I'm just curious.

Shane "George" Lambert said...

Jonathan,

You represented Christ very well in the interview. Great job!

I'm sure you're going to get a lot of negative reactions from both sides, but not from me. Although I may not agree with everything you say or do, I'm glad that your voice is being heard. We need more young leaders like you. Keep doing what you're doing.

George

PT said...

I cannot believe a Christian would be abandoning the Republican party (the Pro-Life party) at such a critical time. Hussein Obama will extend RvW with the appointment of Pro-Abortion SC Judges. You make me sad for our Country, dude.

And your quote:

“When you look at the political party that has traditionally championed poverty, social justice and care for the least of these, it’s not been the Republican Party.”

What an ignorant quote. Dude, there's a difference between championing efforts to help the needy and championing government sponsored social programs to waste money. Whether you want to believe it or not, the Middle Class and Wealthy Christians in this country are the givers.

You should go study Marxism, Socialism, and Communism and see how close you're aligning yourself.

I'll be praying for you.

Kevin said...

I may be off-base, but I believe my blog entry today speaks to what was just posted:

I have three bumper stickers on my car.



One is stating that I’m an alumnus of Georgia State University. Nice sticker, it’s relatively understated, and certainly not controversial.



My two other stickers are Obama stickers. One says his name in Hebrew (hence I’m giving my underlying message that he’s OK for us Jews) and one just a plain ole Obama ’08 sticker. Again, I would think that neither of these could offend anyone.



But, I’ve come to the opinion that I am wrong about that. It is obvious that just by showing that I am a supporter of Barack Obama, some will find that amazingly offensive. I even have empirical evidence.



Now, as I’ve driven around with these bumper stickers I’ve had people give me a thumbs down sign. That’s perfectly fine; it’s just someone showing a different viewpoint.



I’ve had a couple of people stick their tongues out at me. Not a big deal either, sure it’s childish but a little tantrum is really easy to handle. This is especially true given I’m a father and have watched kids tantrums for years.



Today was different. On my way to get my daily fix of iced caffeine disguised as a cappuccino, I was sitting at a red light. I looked in my rear-view mirror and there was a man, probably in his 50’s, giving me not one but two middle fingers. What was even more astounding was the rage in his eyes, his face contorted like I had just spit on his car. When the light turned green, I went on my way and he turned into his neighborhood.



I almost turned into the other entrance into his neighborhood to find him just to ask him why a couple of innocuous bumper stickers would make him so angry. Luckily, my need for caffeine was stronger than my desire for an answer to my question, and I continued onto the QuickTrip.



But this incident does bring up a real concern I have had for sometime, long before we got to this election. Why are those who live in the right-wing of politics so moved to raging anger (at least from my vantage point) against those who believe opposite from them? Just because I am a liberal (and am unapologetic about it), I’ve been called un-patriotic, un-American, a communist, a fascist and gay (my wife would like to deny the last point).



I would put all these under the “sticks and stones” edict of life, but the names in question are very, very pointed toward trying to make me less inclined to speak my beliefs. Isn’t that, by definition, un-American? Our country was founded on each person’s right to speak their mind on what they believe is right, as long as it does not infringe on others.



Hence, I again ask all to stop the angry personal rhetoric. It does not serve our country at all. It does not move us closer to being a society working to fix the problems we are facing or to make us more willing to listen to each other.



Of course, maybe we want to be so angry at each other that we don’t have to listen to what each other have to say. Maybe we should just continue to shout at each other with no hope of being anything but right in our own minds.



Now that’s a sad prospect.

michelle said...

Well aren't you a little hot shot in the Post? I think your interview was great - you were well versed and stood up for your views and faith. Well done!

liz said...

George,

The essence, I think, is that we are all part of creation, and that includes the weak, the poor, the repulsive, those we disagree with, and those whose lives are full of such chaos that they simply cannot carry the weight society needs them to. Democrats seem to me to honor the connection among that diversity more genuinuely than do the republicans, and they certainly seem to feel more of a responsibility to protect the weak, the poor, and future generations who might inherit a polluted planet. I think they feel strongly that our nation won't succeed unless we all succeed.

Republican rhetoric is often derisive of the weak and the different and can be so divisive that it encourages people to fear each other rather than to find commonalities. I believe the party has quite deliberately used those methods in the last several elections in a way that has been truly destructive to public discourse and our sense of who we are as a nation. And republican economic policies promote a kind of "live for today" economic development that is the opposite of what good stewardship requires.

There's no question that abortion is a tragedy, but it's not the only tragedy confronting us and we shouldn't vote like it is. To me, the differences between the two parties boils down to their beliefs about how rhetoric and how government should be used. The democrats use their rhetoric to connect and clarify, not divide and dismiss. And they believe government is the most effective means of providing some basic services for all (maybe healthcare SHOULD be something we all have access to like highways and fire departments!) Republicans want to use laws to prohibit abortion, when education and persuasion could be so much more effective.

I realize in rereading this that there's much you can pick apart -- and I'd need to write a book to give you specific backup for many of my assertions. It's good to talk, though -- I'll promise not to play "gotcha" if you will!

Shane "George" Lambert said...

Liz,

It's a deal!

I have no desire to pick apart your points of view or to try to persuade you to think just like me. Although I'm passionate about my personal political leanings, I'm also always interested in hearing other points of view.

If my question to you seemed like I was trying to bait you for a debate, then please forgive me. That wasn't my intention at all. I truly was just curious about your viewpoint.

Yes, I have some profound disagreements with you, but I'm thankful for the opportunity to discuss them with civility. (Rick Warren would be proud!)

As to your comments, I believe that much of what you are saying about divisiveness and causing fear are staples of both parties, not just the Republicans. I think both sides need to do better.

Hope that doesn't come across as if I'm playing "gotcha" or anything like that, it's just how I feel.

And thanks for responding to my initial question. Great to talk with you, too!

Crystal said...

Good post.