This morning, myself and other New York City area clergy were called on by Faith In Public Life to speak at a press conference in Times Square about the presidential debate last night.
A transcript of my remarks is below.
If you'd like to listen to the press conference in it's entirety, an audio file is included at the end of this post.
At the height of the Cold War, the artist Norman Rockwell had an idea for a piece called "The Golden Rule." It would eventually be displayed at the United Nations building here in New York City.
I have a print of it here in front of me, if you've never seen it.
Rockwell was asked where he got the idea for the piece and said,
"I'd been reading up on comparative religion. The thing is that all major religions have the Golden Rule in Common. 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' Not always the same words but the same meaning."
Each time I look at this piece, I find myself thinking, "This is what America looks like - a beautiful mix of races, cultures, and creeds that are working together toward a more perfect union."
Unfortunately, not all people think the same thing when they look at Rockwell's masterpiece (especially when it comes to the overlap of politics and faith).
I am a white, male, evangelical pastor, and when I (along with many others) hear the moderator of a presidential debate ask a candidate, "What do you say to people of color in this country?" and the candidate answers, "I say nothing." I am not sitting in front of my television saying "Amen!" I'm covering my face in shame wondering what kind of political ecosystem we've created in this country that allows someone who answers that way to be a contender for the highest office in the land.
The outcome of this election has so much to do with how the one we call "president" will treat those in our country who are "different."
The possibilities for our nation are endless if we will open our minds and our hearts to the possibility that different people coming together can fashion our schools, our businesses, our institutions, even our nation into a place that it was always intended to be by courageous thinkers of old- a nation "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal."
Rockwell's painting can be nothing more than what it is- a synthetic representation of a world that we wish was possible, or it can be something that we make possible by how we live, how we love, and how we vote.
Listen to an audio recording of the entire press conference below.