Presiding Bishop Michael Curry critiques silence of religious moderates

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In an interview with The Guardian, excerpts of which were published yesterday, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry shared strong words about the silence of religious moderates as marginalized groups face patterns of systemic and societal oppression.  In the interview, Curry expressed his concern that Christian leaders in the public sphere are not adequately advocating for positions that align with the teachings of Jesus Christ.  In the interview, Curry cited both immigration and racial justice as issues that are often left unaddressed by many religious leaders, stating:

“I’m concerned when I don’t hear other religious leaders standing up for immigrants in our country being treated with justice and decency. I’m concerned when I don’t hear Christian leaders advocating vociferously for the re-unification of parents and children at our borders.”

“I’m concerned when I don’t hear religious leaders advocating for children to be number one on the social agenda of this country. I’m concerned when I hear silence from religious leaders after the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis marched through the streets of Charlottesville. I’m not hearing Jesus of Nazareth when I hear that silence.”

Curry’s comments in the interview derive from a concern that many American Christians are too easily swayed by ideologies that don’t align with Christian teachings.  Despite his critiques of religious moderates, he claims he still has hope in the country to overcome these obstacles and move forward together.

This is not the first time Curry has publicly made such statements.  Earlier this year, Curry was one of the key authors of the Reclaiming Jesus manifesto, a document by Christian leaders concerned about the integrity of the United States as a nation.  Curry also published an op-ed on immigration in The Guardian online in June, entitled “How can America call itself a Christian country if it treats children like this?”  His commitment to issues of justice can currently be seen throughout the overarching work and commitments of the Episcopal Church; at this summer’s General Convention, he outlined three priorities for ministry in the next triennium: evangelism, racial reconciliation, and creation care.

This interview in The Guardian also comes a week before Curry is set to release a new book, “The Power of Love.” The book, which will be a collection of sermons, gets its title from the sermon Curry preached at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle this past spring which launched him into the public eye.

 

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Kenneth Knapp
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Kenneth Knapp

Apparently we have become a church for internet trolls. I would never have expected that a simple defense of religious moderates would ignite such a maelstrom of support for religious/political fanaticism. I recommend a book which I read shortly after I retired several years ago titled "On Moderation" (2008, Baylor University Press) by Professor Harry Clor. I think "the way of love" will require all of us, wherever we fall on the religious/political spectrum, to adopt moderation politically, personally, and philosophically. I am not suggesting that you abandon your sincerely held religious/political views...only that you accept that God also loves those who don't hold your views, and that your views (and my views) are not necessarily endorsed by God. I think that the Episcopal Church in which I was raised was far more tolerant of moderation.

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Kenneth Knapp
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Kenneth Knapp

Like all of us, the PB is entitled to his political opinions, but I think the Episcopal Church would be better served if he kept his opinions to himself.

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Gregory Orloff
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Gregory Orloff

Well, Mr. Knapp, I haven't heard Presiding BIshop Michael Curry express political opinions — though he sure is articulating gospel values grounded in the breadth and depth of the Bible. And as a bishop, he can't keep gospel values to himself — it's his job to bear witness to them.

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Martha Gay
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Kenneth Knapp, I believe that is the problem. Too many men and women of faith are keeping their political views to themselves. Isn't it their ordained obligation to be leaders and teachers of the gospel? It's time our country had an awakening to the teachings of Christ. If anything we should return to LOVING one another. You don't even have to be a Christian. Just LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

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Philip B. Spivey
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Philip B. Spivey

Ever heard of "live and let live"? N.B. Our presiding bishop is not running for office; he's preaching the Good News. Perhaps you don't agree with everything in Christ's Gospel. That's your prerogative.

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Kenneth Knapp
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Kenneth Knapp

Like the PB, you are entitled to your political opinions, but your political opinions are not my religion.

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Member

What *is* your religion, Mr. Knapp?

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Karen Cox
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Karen Cox

I have deep and grave concerns about leaders not being vocal about integrity and basic human rights. Thank you for voicing your concerns.

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Jemma
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Jemma

I want to share this, but there's a typo on tnr first sentence. "Excepts" should actually be "excerpts".

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mike geibel
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mike geibel

The Bishop's appeal for conservative evangelical leaders to “talk as brothers and sisters” with Christians who hold progressive views is a compelling prayer for reconciliation, but I doubt that will happen if he starts the conversation by telling conservative ministers that they are not Christian enough. His comments in the interview seems to stray from the “power of love” for a calculus based upon theological shaming of those more orthodox evangelical churches which avoid mixing politics with religion. I'm probably wrong, but the message I read seems to be that moderate ministers need to sideline teaching the Gospel in favor of social engagement, and his measure for being a good Christian sounds more political than spiritual.

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Gregory Orloff
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Gregory Orloff

"Sidelining teaching the Gospel in favor of social engagement" is a false dichotomy, and it always has been. The Gospel of Christ Jesus has always boiled down to "Love God, love neighbor, love enemy, treat others the same way you want them to treat you." Given those mandates from Jesus, politics and spirituality aren't two separate things, governed by their own rules, ethics, motivations, and standards of behavior. For Christians, the political must be driven by the spiritual.

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mike geibel
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mike geibel

Each of us, including ministers and Bishops, has the right to advocate his or her opinions on partisan political or social issues. Surely there is a way to vocalize spiritual compassions without the rancor and personal condemnations that seem fueled by hate, not love. We prevaricate when we pretend we love others when in fact we don’t. (1 John 4:20).

To me, living as a Christian is not about obedience to political correctness, protest marches or abstract slogans like “gender justice, eco-justice, or social justice.” It means respect for the dignity of others irrespective of their gender, religion, social status, race, or whether they voted for the same political candidate. It means not insisting that only you are right and that those who you find disagreeable are less than you.

Political posturing is divisive and drives people away from the church at a time when society needs to become more connected with God, and not feel driven away by God’s spokespeople.

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Gregory Orloff
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Gregory Orloff

I don't hear any "political posturing" in what Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and likeminded clergy have said. What I do hear is a clear and unapologetic enunciation of gospel values, however. If that upsets or alienates some, it may well be because they have zero interest in the Gospel message or in connecting with a God whose mandate is "Love your neighbor, love your enemy, treat others the same way you want them to treat you." That is, after all, the yardstick by which Christians must measure their political choices and social behaviors if they are to be in sync with Christ Jesus.

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David Duggan
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David Duggan

How is deporting people, even children, who have come here illegally, unjust? How is following the civil law adopted by a free people unjust? If in the face of the injustices of the Roman Empire Paul adjured his followers: "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established" (Romans 13:1, NIV), and nonetheless lost his head for his subservience, then we disobey those authorities at our own peril.

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Gregory Orloff
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Gregory Orloff

Romans 13:1 needs to be balanced with Acts 5:29: "We must obey God rather than human beings!" (NIV) There are such things as unjust laws and even cruel application of just laws and inhumane mistreatment of those deemed to be lawbreakers. The yardstick for Christians is whether or not when, how, and to whom "enforcing the law" meets these prime directives from Christ Jesus in his Gospel: "Love God, love neighbor, love enemy, treat others the same way you want them to treat you." And as Paul reminds us some nine verses later in Romans 13:10: "Love does no wrong to others" (NLT).

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Philip B. Spivey
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Philip B. Spivey

Perhaps you haven't heard of "unjust" laws. We remain silent in the face of unjust laws at our own peril. Paraphrasing: First they came for the immigrants and I was silent...and then they came for me.

Anyone who truly believes there's more than six degrees of separation in 2018 between any of God's children is in for a rude awakening. The illusion that privilege will keep us safe, is about to shatter. "Populism" takes no prisoners.

Re: Saint Paul: Are you so sure he wouldn't have lost his head, or worse, had he collaborated with Rome? History reminds us that the Vichy collaborators in France ultimately suffered at the hands of the fascists (when Vichy was no longer of use) and at the hands of the French resistance (when liberation came.)

There is no safety, and no honor, in appeasing an aggressor.

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Philip B. Spivey
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Philip B. Spivey

I admire Bishop Curry's optimism about the possibilities of pulling through this period of upheaval to regain the high road for God's beloved community. But the unfinished business of balancing the needs of justice and democracy with the needs of the capitalists and plutocrats remains. In fact, we are seeing a deepening of these contradictions and conflicts daily.

I interpret Bishop Curry's appeal to mean: Don't conflate politics (the State) with morality (The Jesus Movement.) It's convenient to hide behind the taint of politics and tell yourself, "I don't have to get involved; someone might see it as taking sides with a political party", etc. There's no solid ground for that thinking; it merely provides an alibi for in-action.

Silence=Death summed up the calculus for many who faced death in the early days of the HIV crisis. We're in another kind of crisis now: one which threatens our Constitutional democracy and the other, which threatens the very air we humans breathe.

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Berdell Fleming
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Berdell Fleming

Yes sir those are called have to be bold and courageous!

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