The Pastor’s Pen: November 18, 2018

This week our nation pauses to give thanks for our blessings. At a time when many countries seem caught up in the madness of xenophobia and hatred of all those who look and act differently than we, we are thankful that those who founded the nation had the foresight to put checks and balances into the Constitution that were designed to protect the nation against excesses from any branch of government. We do not have elections for Supreme Court justices because a non-politicized judiciary was essential for the interpretation of laws that might be unconstitutional. Jim Crow laws were the example of how a non-politicized court could prevent legislative bodies from passing laws that did not honor the spirit of our founding principles. And, when the judiciary is beset by attempts at political control, the Legislature has the obligation to rise up and resist such attempts. Although Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the court seemed to violate this principle, the legislative debate at least, showed the nation that like it or not, there is in place procedures designed to ensure that the process of Supreme Court appointments can be challenged and must never be a rubber stamp.

In the present climate, the Executive Branch is clearly out of control as the current President has made many attempts to turn the presidency into a dictatorship with absolute power, as with the practices of his much-admired Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un. Yet, in the recent midterm elections, the voters showed that the ballot box can always be the check and balance against Executive branch excesses, giving new meaning to the song, “God has crowned our good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.”

In this season of social and moral anxiety, we are grateful for all the protections that are built into our national governance. Although the framers of the Constitution intended the statement “all men are created equal” to mean all white men are created equal, and not even all white women, and although it took a bloody Civil War to resolve that issue, it was determined that all Americans, Black, Brown, male and female were equal under the law. To God be the glory.

However, a pressing and present danger facing our society is the challenge of information abuse. Through so-called freedom of speech right wing radio and TV spew incendiary information that in many ways is at the heart of the tribal hatred that is so prevalent. These out of control information outlets are where conspiracy theories are housed. In these venues’ absurd theories such as the birther concept, that President Obama was not an American, or that a leftist cabal led by Jews and communists, primarily in Hollywood and New York are running the country contrary to the best interests of middle-class white America. The challenge of reigning these absurdities in is the constitution that protects freedom of speech. Regardless of the disruptions of Right-Wing Media, we must resist attempts to limit such speech and trust that through the power of God, Americans will find in their better angels the strength to sort truth from falsity.