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Time to talk about religion and politics this holiday


November 21, 2018

One of the old adages many of us live by is that we should never talk about politics or religion. We are warned in November, with elections and family gatherings at Thanksgiving, that the quickest way to disharmony is to tackle these two topics. There are other controversies in November like which kind of cranberry sauce is best—but that’s for another day. We have all been warned to not discuss politics or religion. Perhaps that has been bad advice; perhaps this year we should have a serious talk about both politics and religion.

This month of giving thanks we might include in our blessings not only family and freedom but also the right to have diverse views about things most close to our hearts, including politics and religion. Our American freedom dictates we have the right and duty to consider both because these topics go to the core of our values. They reflect how we understand and worship God and how we are called to care for our community. It is not the topics that have been tearing us apart but how we discuss our differences. We argue the surface issues, get caught up in sound bites and never go to the deeper meaning of why we chose the side we do. We often talk about this doctrine or that politician when we should be seriously considering our values and core beliefs that are at the heart of the faith we chose or the political party we support.

Here in Goldendale, the clergy get together monthly for coffee and conversation. It is a blessing we don’t talk about the particularities of each of our denominations. Baptists use a lot of water in baptism; Methodist use a little. Some use grape juice for communion, others wine. Some of our churches are quiet and reflective, others loud and joyful. In a recent discussion, we affirmed that there is beauty and God’s hand in our diversity. Pastor Patti McKern spoke eloquently of the unity in the Body of Christ even in the diversity of how we understand and worship God. When we have time to really share with one another about why we choose a certain church or political party we find that we often hold the same concerns but approach a solution from a very different direction. When we seriously share from our heart, we find we can celebrate the freedom of diversity that is possible in our country and community. It is very easy to throw stones, vilify each other—far harder to truly listen to each other with open minds and open hearts; to acknowledge our differences with love and civility. It is time to talk about politics and religion—with grace and deep listening, acknowledging the gift of our differences and the beauty of diversity.


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