“Equality before the law and before God is the way of Martin Luther King and John Lewis.”

From a New York Times Op-Ed, “Jesus May Be the Best Hope Against an Amoral President,” byJon Meacham:

Given the state of the nation two millenniums on, it is difficult to conceive of something more counterintuitive than the Christian ideal. For many Americans, especially non-Christians, the thought that Christian morality is a useful guide to much of anything these days is risible, particularly since so many evangelicals have thrown in their lot with a relentlessly solipsistic American president who bullies, boasts and sneers. . . .

And yet history suggests that religiously inspired activism may hold the best hope for those in resistance to the prevailing Trumpian order. . . .

I am a Christian (a very poor one, but there we are), but I am also a historian, and contemplating the beginnings of the story of my ancestral faith has led me to think about the uses of Jesus down the eons. Yes, Christianity has been an instrument of repression, but in the living memory of Americans it has also been deployed as a means of liberation and progress—which feeds the hope that it can become a force for good once more.

The secular wish to banish religion from the public square is perennial but doomed; one might as well try to eliminate economic, geographic or partisan concerns. “All men,” Homer wrote, “have need of the gods,” and the more productive task is to manage and marshal the effects of religious feeling on the broader republic. . . .

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been deeply influenced by the theologian Walter Rauschenbusch and his 1907 book “Christianity and the Social Crisis,” which argued that Jesus called the world not simply to contemplate but to act. “The Gospel at its best deals with the whole man, not only his soul but his body, not only his spiritual well-being, but his material well-being,” King wrote in a Rauschenbusch-inspired passage. “Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.”. . .

The American past unmistakably tells us that one way to a more perfect union, one way to a nation where equality before the law and before God is more universal, is the way of King and of John Lewis. Which is also the way of Jesus.

People of faith are called—again and again and again—to return to the foot of the cross. It’s a terrifying place to stand. But that is where the story Christians profess begins. It is a story about love, not loathing; generosity, not greed. In our time, the will to power has all too often overwhelmed the words of Jesus—and that is why we must hear and heed those words anew.

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