No matter your response to the politics and policies of President-elect Barack Obama, Americans can be proud of two things today.
First, we can be proud that in spite of a long, and often times hard, campaign there will be a peaceful transition of government. This is certainly not the case for many of the countries of the world. Yet, we know that young democracies long to see the day of peaceful transition. They can look to the United States as an example of hope because of how we will handle this transition.
Second, America has proven once again that the people will correct a wrong. This is primarily because America was founded on and has been rooted in the Christian value of justice. Two-hundred and twenty-one years ago, the Founding Fathers struggled with the horror of slavery. Unfortunately, after a long debate and a desire to unite a new country, they wrote into the Constitution that African slaves were to be counted as three-fifths of a human being in the representative democracy that was being born.
One-hundred and forty-seven years ago, the nation entered into a bloody civil war that had brother fight against brother, and saw the loss of life of hundreds of thousands of young men. Ostensibly the war had to do with the rights of the states versus a strong centralized government, as well as economic concerns; though much of the argument centered on the abolition of slavery. The states of the South argued for a free white man’s power and right to hold others in bondage. Although slaves were set free, the sin of racism continued in the form of segregation—whether legal or de facto segregation. Even the Supreme Court ruled in favor of “separate but equal” education.
It was only forty years ago that a presidential candidate won the votes of 10 million Americans despite having declared as a governor, “I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say, segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
It was only fifty-two years ago that a young women, Rosa Parks, refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. It was only forty-five years ago in front of the Lincoln Memorial that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King delivered the “I have a Dream” speech which stirred a generation of Americans to work for justice and equal rights for people of color. And that speech continues to stir the hearts of people today. It was only forty-four years ago that the Civil Rights Act was signed, and then a year later the Voting Rights Act. It was only forty years ago that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. And over the past four decades we have seen African Americans become Governors, Mayors, Legislators, Senators, and high ranking officials in the Cabinet of the President. We have seen African Americans in the professions of America. Now we have an African American President.
My father used to tell me that I should be proud to be American, because it was a country where anyone could grow up and become President. Yesterday my father’s words became a real truth. Americans can be thankful that the world has seen that America truly is a country with a dream of liberty and equality, and that the two are not opposed to each other.
President Barack Obama faces many challenges and Americans will always remain loyal to their President. There will be a loyal opposition who will work with President Obama when they agree with him, and will criticize him when he is wrong. But first and foremost they will be Americans.
Now American Christians must continue to obey the Scriptures to submit to the governing authorities for their authority comes from God. We pray for those who have authority over us so that we may lead quiet and peaceful lives.
There are, however, losers in this election. The rights to life for the pre-born and the elderly are still under attack. Abortion will remain legal (but never lawful). Thousands of babies will continue to die. And, it is most likely that the new President will appoint at least two Supreme Court Justices who will be pro-abortion. These justices will most likely vote on the side of the culture of death that legalizes abortion, as well as euthanasia, genetic engineering, and embryo stem cell research.
Americans must still deal with the greed, consumerism, materialism, and hedonism that have infected the soul of the nation. A great deal of the support of slavery and legalized segregation had to do with economics. Just as today abortion is pushed in America, and around the world, as an economic solution to poverty; or it is embraced by many as an alternative to pregnancy, because those pregnancies would interfere with a materialistic and consumer-driven life style.
It was religious leaders that rose up in the abolition movement who ended slavery. Many paid a great price for freedom. It was religious leaders who rose up to end segregation in America. It continued throughout the years to be the religious community that spoke for social justice for all people.
The religious community must be a strong voice for the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves—particularly the pre-born. We can be optimistic. It took a generation to end segregation, achieve voting rights, and finally have an African American in the White House. Something most of us never thought would happen in our generation. I believe, because God is on our side, we can end abortion in one generation.
Every member of the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church should support CEC for Life, because it is committed to prayer, to the humanizing of all life, and the empowerment of a new generation of those fighting for life and justice for the least among us.
By living the gospel American Christians will continue to be the Church. They will serve the King of Kings, who remains on the throne of the Kingdom that will never end. The Church will continue to preach the truth. The Church will continue to speak for justice and mercy. The Church will continue to reach out with the Good News in words and actions to the least, the lost, and the lonely. The Church will defend the pre-born by preaching the truth that Jesus came to bring life, and bring it in abundance.
May the whole International Communion pray for the American Church and for the American people.
Under His mercy,
The Most Rev. Craig W. Bates,