Time To Call a Satan a Satan?

I do not lead a partisan organization, but I do lead a faith-rooted organization that has a long history of speaking out on matters of public concern. 

Here is why speaking out rather bluntly at this time seems necessary to me: Unless I have misread or misheard the news lately, the GOP majority in the House of Representatives holds roughly these positions on key issues:

Immigration Reform: No bill, or else a bill with no path to citizenship.

Farm Bill: Subsidies for fat-cat Agribusiness operators but no renewal of food assistance for the urban poor—which has long been the traditional rural-urban tradeoff in enacting compromise farm bills.

Student Debt: Let the financial markets decide, and we are not concerned with the actual devastating burden laid upon the future workforce. (In fairness, here the Wall Street Democrats are also a big problem.)

Universal Health Care: Hell no! Just repeal the damned thing!! If it is implemented it might actually allow poor “takers” to live a little bit longer than is convenient for us “makers,” who no longer require a large low-wage labor force—in the United States, that is. 

Women’s Health: Whatever can you mean? You must mean infanticide??

Religious Liberty/First Amendment: We believe that any employer’s “religious convictions” should trump all civil rights and equal right protections under established law. Do we need to remind you that the Constitution was written by Christians and for Christians in particular?

Energy/Climate: I’m not that hot—are you? We in the One Percent will manage to stay cool by any means necessary as the rest of you suffer. 

Regulation More Broadly: You can catch up with our death-and-debt-dealing corporate friends AFTER the damage is done, OK? That’s the American Way.

That’s the House Republicans. And on the Senate side: 

Presidential Appointments:  It is our firm intention to thwart and destroy this president; effectively nullifying his power to make appointments forms a central part of that effort. (Please go ahead and do that Google search on earlier nullification fun times in US history.)

If I am misrepresenting these positions, by all means call me on it. But if I describe them accurately, don’t we have a responsibility to say that these positions have the sulfurous stench of Satan about them?

Not in precisely those words, perhaps But we have many valid ways—and many long-accepted homiletical, liturgical, and hermeneutical means—to get the primary point across. And to repeat, these are ways and means that do not cross red lines for 501(c)3 charitable or religious organizations.

The IRS language for what “charitable” means is worth reviewing:

The term charitable is used in its generally accepted legal sense and includes relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged…eliminating prejudice and discrimination; [and] defending human and civil rights secured by law.

The radical Republicans in Washington and in many statehouses want to further punish and distress the poor; they want to enshrine prejudice and discrimination; they want to shred human and civil rights that are currently secured by law.

We not only have the freedom to say that; we have a responsibility to say it.

peterlaarman@gmail.com'

Peter Laarman is a United Church of Christ minister and activist who recently retired as executive director of Progressive Christians Uniting in Los Angeles. He remains involved in numerous justice struggles, in particular a campaign known as Justice Not Jails that calls upon faith communities to critique and combat the system of racialized mass incarceration often referred to as The New Jim Crow.