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Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church of Asheville, Inc.

Comments from Pastor Grant on Politics and Political Parties – April 2020

I.        “Politics” – The Affairs of the People.

  • “Politics” is from the Greek politikos "of, for, or relating to citizens." (Wikipedia)
  • The process by which groups of people make decisions. The term is generally applied to behavior within civil governments, but politics has been observed in all human group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions.  (Reference.com)
  • Political scientist Harold Lasswell defined politics as the process of determining "who gets what, when, and how."

II.      In his book, The Reason for God, Rev. Tim Keller speaks of a group of younger Christians who reject the positions of the liberal democrat and the conservative republican.  He refers to them as being “much more concerned about the poor and social justice than republicans have been, and at the same time, much more concerned about upholding classic Christian moral and sexual ethics than democrats have been.”  They, like me and many others I know, reject the extremes of both the liberal democrats and the conservative republicans.

Generally, the liberal democrats want to focus on the poor and social justice, while minimizing, ignoring and sometimes contradicting what the Bible teaches about abortion, sex and marriage.  Generally, the conservative republicans want to focus on abortion, sex, and marriage, while minimizing, ignoring and often contradicting what the Bible teaches about social justice, poverty and the poor – while holding the view that sees poverty as simply a failure of personal responsibility. 

As Christian believers, we will not focus on either while ignoring the other.  In other words, we will not ignore what the Bible teaches about the poor and social justice, neither will we ignore what it teaches about moral and sexual ethics.

III.     Conservative Republicans Position: In a previous election, I received a flier in the mail from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association which strongly urged voters to vote for candidates who support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman, protect the sanctity of life, and defend our religious freedoms.  The flyer stated: “The Bible speaks clearly on these crucial issues.   Please join me in praying for America, that we will turn our hearts back to God.” After reading his statement, I wrote in the margins of a picture of Mr. Graham these words, “BUT WHAT ABOUT HUNGER, POVERTY, SOCIAL JUSTICE, CORPORATE GREED, THE RICH TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE POOR, ETC.”  The Bible, I was thinking, also speaks clearly on these issues.

IV.     Liberal Democrats Position: The liberal democrats tend to focus on the poor and social justice, while minimizing, ignoring and often contradicting what the Bible teaches about abortion, sex and marriage.  This position may be seen in comments from Rev. Dr. William Barber at a Moral Monday March:

“I’m tired of these so-called ultra conservative Christians and ultra conservative religious folks thinking they can decide what are the moral issues: Prayer in the schools, where you stand on homosexuality and abortion.  These are matters between you, your pastor, your God or your priest and yourself.  But they better know that there are some preachers – I’m conservative Christian.  I believe in real conservatism, and I want to conserve what are the primary tenants of the word. I want to conserve treating your neighbor right.  I want to conserve helping the hungry, helping the poor, I want to conserve lifting people up when they are down.  I want to conserve people reaching out and helping their neighbor when they are down.  I want to conserve a government that cares about all the people.”

V.      My Response to the Conservative Republicans like Graham and to Liberal Democrats like Barber:

  • To conservative republicans: Is it right during election time to emphasize the Biblical perspective on issues like abortion, homosexuality, religious freedom, and prayer in the schools and ignore or minimize the Biblical perspective on issues like HUNGER, POVERTY, SOCIAL JUSTICE, CORPORATE GREED, TREATING OUR NEIGHBOR RIGHT, LIVABLE WAGES, HOUSING DISCRIMINATION, ETC.?
  • To liberal democrats:  The God of the Bible is not a God of either the conservative republican position or the liberal democrat position.  Neither conservative republicans nor liberal democrats get to decide what are the moral issues of our day. God has already decided, and God’s decision is recorded in His word.

To people like Rev. Barber, I ask: Is it right to take Biblical issues like abortion, homosexuality, religious freedom, and prayer in the schools and make them matters between “you, your God, and your pastor or priest” while taking Biblical issues like hunger, poverty, the poor, and social justice and make them the Moral Monday Issues of our day?  Is it right to deemphasize, privatize and gloss over Biblical issues that don’t fit into your politically correct agenda while emphasizing, politicizing and publicizing Biblical issues that do?

I say to those quoting the Bible like Graham and Barber: If we are to be true to the Biblical faith, we must preach and emphasize the WHOLE COUNSEL of God.  If we are not going to emphasize the whole counsel of God, then we should not be quoting the Bible at all.

A professor at Columbia University, Fredrick C. Harris says:

Many African-American voters align best with the Republican Party on social issues – abortion, gay rights, school choice, prayer in schools – but diverge when it comes to the federal government’s role in protecting civil rights and providing a social safety net.  With black voters, “economic issues always trump social issues.” 

In other words, what he is saying is that if black voters have to make a choice, they will vote for their wallets rather than for their morals.  This is his observation on why black voters generally tend to vote for democrats.  It is largely perceived that democrats care more about black people’s wallets. But is it true?

Is it good for black voters when democrats can take them for granted and assume they got black voters in their pockets?  In this regard, conservative columnist Larry Elder points out that “When Blacks Voted 80% democrat, Malcolm X Called Them 'Chumps'” (Mar 13, 2014). Yet democrats, said Malcolm X, failed to deliver on a promised and much anticipated new civil rights bill, knowing the party could still count on their blind support in the next election.  X goes on to say . . .

"You put them first and they put you last. 'Cause you're a chump. A political chump! ... Any time you throw your weight behind a political party that controls two-thirds of the government, and that party can't keep the promise that it made to you during election time, and you are dumb enough to walk around continuing to identify yourself with that party -- you're not only a chump but you're a traitor to your race."

What would Malcolm X say, Elder asks, about today's 95 percent black vote?

There are Black conservative evangelical Bible-believing Christians like myself who don’t feel at home in either political party. 

  • Closer perhaps to republicans on issues like abortion, sexual ethics, marriage, and religious freedom
  • Closer perhaps to democrats on issues of hunger, poverty and similar social justice issues

So what are voters like you and I to do when our two leading political parties tend to want to make it an either/or proposition?  Does the Bible have anything to say about this question?  Absolutely!  The Biblical answer is that we must stick to the truth of God’s word and remember that God is neither a conservative republican nor a liberal democrat.

Someone has said: “We don’t have permanent enemies or permanent friends, only PERMANENT INTERESTS.”  Well, those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ can certainly say that our PERMANENT INTERESTS are the interests of the Kingdom of God.  “Seek ye first,” Jesus says, “the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” 

Therefore, our interests may be said to be Kingdom Interests, not political party interest.  Our first loyalty is to God’s Kingdom, not to a political party. God is a God of truth and love.  As a God of truth, God does not emphasize truth to the neglect of love.  As a God of Love, God does not emphasize love to the neglect of truth.  As His followers, we are called to speak the truth in love – love people enough to tell them the truth.  We don’t have to sacrifice truth to be loving, and we do have to sacrifice love to be truthful.

Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”  Politicians and political parties don’t set us free, but the truth of God does!

Community Listening Forum

Re:   Community Listening Forums Open Report to Asheville City School Board Addressing the Academic Achievement Gap

Members of Christian faith-based organizations came together with guests in listening forums on 4/30/19 and 6/4/19 to consider what may be done to address and/or close the academic achievement gap between white and black students in the Asheville City Schools.   

These organizations were asked to identify up to five action steps in which they are currently engaged that may contribute to closing the gap. A range of underlying issues contributes to the gap, and some of the actions items included herein may already be taking place in Asheville City Schools:

  1. High expectations of all students based on the belief they are made in the image of God, inherently valuable, and uniquely gifted.
  2. Active covenant partnership between the school and the home. 
  1. Children of families who take seriously such a partnership make steady progress in reading at the upper end of grade levels.
  2. Sets up teachers and students for success.
  3. Parents and teachers (with student input) write a vision statement with the understanding that failure is not an option.
  1. Have a large collection of books that feature black characters and heroes.
  2. Utilize school-based teen pregnancy prevention interventions as strategies in addressing the gap. Such interventions have the potential to help teens acquire the knowledge and skills needed to postpone sex, practice safer sex, avoid unintended pregnancy, and if pregnant, to complete high school and pursue postsecondary education. Teenage mothers are more likely to delay their education in comparison to their peers who postpone motherhood.
  3. Recognize the role of racism and certain other social determinants as factors in the achievement gap among black students:
  1. Hire and retain black and culturally competent faculty and staff through the establishment of formal and informal relationships with the HBCUs. According to a report issued this past October by the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, students of color thrive with teachers who look like them and understand their culture and challenges.(The report is entitled “Identity and Charter School Leadership: Profiles of Leaders of Color Building an Effective Staff,” and may be viewed on the Alliance’s website.)
  2. Recruit recent graduates with financial incentives that include affordable housing, assumption of student loan debts, and competitive salary packages, etc.
  3. Provide ongoing professional development.
  4. Monitor other needs of students as they may present themselves including nutritional, housing, juvenile justice, family resources.
  1. Give and show respect for each student without regard for the areas in which they live, the job titles of parents, or degrees parents may have.
  2.  Observation of a retired teacher who taught 37 years in the public schools. “When they took prayer out of the schools, that was the worst thing that could have ever happened.  Because some days if it had not been for prayer, Lord I would be in jail. I simply ask God to give me the strength to remember that that child was not my biological child.
  3. Kids don’t know and need to be taught why objective truth matters rather than being left with a moral vacuum where truth may be regarded as subjective and arbitrary. Churches and other faith-based groups may help address this vacuum by adopting a school via after school programs in which interested parents may voluntarily enroll their children for academic tutoring and spiritual tutoring to help address both the academic achievement gap and the moral/ethical vacuum as evidenced by an increasing suicide rate among black boys.
  1. From 2001 to 2015, the suicide risk for Black boys between the ages of 5 and 11 was two to three times higher than that of White boys, according to a new research letter in JAMA Pediatrics (Bridge, 2018). This concerning trend continues through adolescence as reported by the Nationwide Youth Risk Behavior Survey (Kann et al., 2017). The rates of attempted suicide, including attempts that resulted in an injury, poisoning, or overdose, are 1.2 times higher among black males compared to white males.
  1. Promote fatherhood: A father, mother and child are the ideal family unit. Although the ideal isn’t possible for everyone, students should be encouraged to marry before having babies. When nearly 75 percent of black babies are born out of wedlock and raised largely by single mothers with an absent father, it should be no surprise that poverty and incarceration rates are high. Dads matter! They impact their child’s self-esteem, intellectual development, independence, courage, social development, spiritual life, respect for the opposite sex, etc.

Forums Co-sponsored by Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Mount Zion Community Development, New City Christian School, The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, The Baptist Ministers Union, Asheville-Buncombe Community Christian Ministry, Christine Avery Learning Center, WRES 100.7 FM.

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Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church
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Asheville, NC 28801
Phone: 828-252-0515
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