Angry Pastor Jim – September 2, 2021

Family,

By the time I went to bed on Wednesday night I was fairly upset. When I woke up this morning I was still angry. Let me share the sources of that anger with you, my faith family.

I am angry at the very restrictive anti-abortion law passed by the Texas legislature and at the 5-4 decision of the US Supreme Court not to block it. The law is an attack on the rights of women, it is a threat to women’s health and, in the way it empowers private citizens to sue those they suspect of “aiding and abetting” the provision of abortion, it fuels the fires of vigilantism that already threaten the well-being of communities across our nation.

I continue to believe, in the words of Hillary Clinton, that “abortion should be safe, legal and rare.” There is much evidence that shows when it is safe and legal the number of abortions decrease rather than increase.

I further believe that there would be fewer abortions if those that espouse pro-life positions were truly pro-life, concerned about the ongoing well being of mothers, children and families, rather than simply pro-birth.

Changing topics, I am angry about the rising tide of homicides in our city. Last night the 88th homicide of 2021 was recorded. This need not be. I am angry about the needless loss of life and I am angry that the Oakland Police Department and city employees are not fully working the Ceasefire process which has proved to be successful in reducing the rate of homicides. Rather than identifying the rather small number of individuals likely to be involved in group-related gun violence and strategically intervening in those lives there is a return to the “we need more police, more arrests, more forceful justice” model that has been tried and found wanting.

There are prominent religious leaders that are supporting this return to the bad old days. It plays well to proclaim “Our communities need Jesus more than they need research” but the fact is that Jesus told us to love our neighbors and research can help us understand how to best do that.

One other reason I am angry. I am angry at the purveyors of disinformation that suggest that it is a threat to health and violation of God’s will to receive a COVID-19 vaccination and to wear a mask but that somehow ingesting an anti-parasite drug used by veterinarians to treat livestock is a good idea and a godly practice. The American public has been given the opportunity to bring the pandemic under control but, encouraged by practitioners of religious malpractice, is choosing not to do so. Is my anger not justified?

Tempering my anger is gratitude, gratitude for those who are fighting fires, fighting the pandemic, fighting for justice, fighting to restore the power grid in Louisiana, fighting to get aid to Haiti and fighting to provide their children a sense of stability in a most confusing time. There are many who use their faith as a cover to act horribly. There are many more who are inspired by their faith to act compassionately. For these I am grateful.

One can be angry and grateful at the same time.

Pastor Jim

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