Unless it’s Justin Bieber I don’t get star-struck, but I have to admit, it was pretty cool to meet President Barack Obama earlier this month. During his visit to Seattle on the weekend of February 16, I had the opportunity and privilege to attend one of the events he was speaking at. Specifically, it was an event at Boeing Everett to celebrate the work of American workers, Boeing, and the culmination of the work of the Dreamliner 787.
Light to the World.
As you know. I don’t run in these circles. Sitting in a special section with dignitaries and politicians including mayors, various council members, business bigwigs and the Washington governor was awkward to say the least. How I got invited to this event is a little unclear but over the past couple years, I’ve been building relationships with the White House via their Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. It’s also from a commitment I’ve had – as a Christian, a pastor, and a leader – to be a light to the World and not just merely light to the Light. Translation: As we serve and love the church, we must also look outward and engage the larger culture. Folks notice and when opportunities arise, they sometimes ask for input and involvement or just merely your presence and that’s what happened.
I confess that I don’t have much idea with what’s currently going on with the Presidential primary process but can assume that things are heating up as candidates ratchet up rhetoric about all things including their affection for Christ, faith, religion, evangelicals, etc.
And why does this make sense? Because supposedly, America, is a Christian nation – or at the least, a religious nation.
Statistically, in the United States, 83% claim to belong to some sort of religious denomination 40% claim to attend services nearly every week or more, and 58% claim to pray at least weekly. The majority of Americans (60% to 76%) identify themselves as Christians… [source]
All this to say that it makes perfect sense why politicians and political parties would want to politicize religion or faith – however genuine their faith is or not. This is why it made perfect sense for President Obama’s opponents and critics to question, Is Obama really a Christian? And that’s why it makes sense & smart strategy for Rick Perry to throw down some religious rhetoric to say “I’m one of you” when he promised in a recent political ad (click here for RSS readers) to:
“end Obama’s war on religion. And I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage. ”
He goes on to say…
“there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”
Update: I’m joining in solidarity with others in expressing deep disappointment and anger over the recent news and decision by the House Agricultural Committee’s decision to cut the SNAP program (formerly food stamps) by more than $35 million over the next 10 years.
While it should not make it past the Senate, I’ve emailed my elected officials to express this disappointment and to take actions. Regardless, you have to wonder where our priorities are.
I am all for reducing our national deficit. It must be a priority but to do it at the expense of those who need food via this program is morally wrong.
Here’s a brief synopsis from Bread for the World’s blog:
Bread for the World is infuriated by the House Agriculture Committee’s decision today to slash the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) by more than $35 billion.
“Cuts to SNAP, particularly at a time of continued high unemployment and unprecedented need for food assistance, are a moral outrage,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “SNAP is working exactly as intended. It has grown to meet increased need and is expected to decrease to pre-recession levels as the economy recovers.”
You can read the full article here or one via Reuters and I encourage you to join Bread for the World’s efforts to advocate for the poor.
WWJC? What would Jesus cut?
I have reasons to both like and dislike Tupac but his words when he was alive still hit the core:
“They have money for war but can’t feed the poor.” – Tupac
In light of an unsuccessful campaign to become the president of my middle school as an 8th grader, I have no plans on entering politics and running for political office. But, I have been learning so much about civic engagement, policy making, advocacy, and the larger realm of politics. Several days ago, I spent 2 days in Washington DC to continue that education. And while I wasn’t able to play hoops with President Obama and throw him a couple elbows, I even had the opportunity to attend a briefing in the White House. While it wasn’t as surreal as I expected, it was a neat experience nevertheless.
While I’m not able to disclose too much of this gathering, we had a conversation that I feel like I’m hearing and reading quite often:
The topic of civility.
…And particularly around the discourse of politics.
Ahhh, the conversation of politics.
As I shared with my church recently, I’m not looking forward to the next election season in two years. If folks thought that the most recent presidential election were intense, heated, and vicious…wait till the 2012.