Sundin column: Express good will to all men all year
First, let me pose a couple questions. Is the United States a “Christian Nation?” And are Americans a “Christian Society?” The answer to the first question is an unequivocal “No.” The very first of the 10 amendments to the United States Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights and ratified four years after the adoption of the Constitution, guarantees our freedom of religion, speech and the press. With respect to religion it states “Congress shall make no law respecting establishment of religion…”
But although the United States is not a “Christian” nation, three-quarters of Americans are reported to be adherents to Christianity. So does that make us a truly Christian Society? Not necessarily. It all depends on how we live our lives and whether we observe the biblical maxims “Do unto others as ye would have them do unto you.” (Matthew 7. 12) and “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 19.19).
There are two groups whose commitment to Christianity I find to be severely lacking, no matter what they may claim: corporations and the wealthy, and the Alt-right. The U.S. Supreme Court, in its “infinite wisdom” has declared that corporations have the rights of persons. If this is so, shouldn’t they also have an obligation to respect and treat people as their equals instead of as merely objects to be exploited for excessive profits, which they pass on to the wealthy, increasing their already exorbitant wealth? It is quite obvious that both corporations and the wealthy have little interest in their fellow man and in doing what it takes to support a functioning society.
An even greater deviant from the principals of Christianity is the “Alt-right,” which Wikipedia describes as “a loosely-defined group of people with far-right ideologies who reject mainstream conservatism in favor of white nationalism,” which is nothing more than a disguise for overt racism. “Alt-right beliefs have been described as isolationist, protectionist, anti-Semitic and white supremacist, frequently overlapping with Neo-Nazism, nativism and Islamophobia, antifeminism, misogyny and homophobia, right-wing populism, and the neo-reactionary movement associated with the 2016 campaign and election of Donald Trump.”
In addition to espousing President Trump’s obsession with building a $20 billion wall along our border with Mexico, the Alt-right (and Trump) seem bent on breaking up families by deporting one or more undocumented members of the family, in spite of the fact that they have been here for many years (even decades), have no criminal record and are an important part of our economy. The most inhumane of deportation efforts threatens the so-called “Dreamers,” young people brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents when they were children, in most cases only a few years or even a few months old. Having been brought up in the U.S., for most of them it is the only country they know, and they would face a very uncertain future if they were uprooted and sent to what to them would be a foreign country, without means of continuing their education or even surviving. It is not only unfair, but inhumane, to punish these innocent children because their parents brought their children with them when they entered our country illegally.
In his first Inaugural Address on March 4, 1861, newly elected president Abraham Lincoln called on the American people to heed “the better angels of our nature” in hope of averting an impending war with the Southern States, and in his second Inaugural Address four years later, with the bitter Civil War drawing to a close, he appealed to people on both sides of the conflict to reunite the country and heal its wounds “with malice toward none” and “with charity for all.” Today we have a president who seems bent on dividing our country by appealing to our basest instincts with bullying tactics and hateful tweeting, legitimizing anti-Semitism and hatred of Mexicans, Muslims and LGBT people. President Trump even spoke at a recent gathering of far-right extremists in Washington, D.C., giving the impression of White House support of hate groups. There is also concern about internet companies inadvertently aiding the spread of hate online.
“Hatred and scorn are easy; empathy and persuasion are hard, but without them, our divisions will only deepen.” It is up to us, if we are to be true Christians, to do everything in our power to promote civility and suppress hatred, not only at Christmas, but throughout the year — this year and every year.
Hal Sundin’s As I See It column appears on the first Thursday of each month.
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Guest commentary: Recovering our friend from Crystal River was something we had to do; he would have done the same for us
I’m writing these words in the aftermath of the death of our friend in an attempt to make some sense of the last few days, as well as to tell the details of the events up to and after Chason Russell’s death on the Crystal River.