Powell: Pray, resist, act
Alternative facts promoted as truth have become a hallmark of President Trump’s administration. Sociologist and former senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”
These “alternative facts” are keeping us from addressing Trump’s policies that attack and jeopardize the lives of vulnerable people.
I am less concerned about Trump’s politics than I am about the policies his politics espouse. These policies have created a dangerous time for our communities, the world and humanity.
While we have been mesmerized by alternative facts, Trump has taken actions or made proposals to:
- Erode health care protection for millions without an alternative plan;
- Reopen a site where torture occurred;
- Eliminate a scheduled rate cut for housing insurance for home purchasers;
- Appoint his alt-right top adviser to a permanent role on the National Security Council;
- Implement a ban (later blocked by judicial rulings) on people entering the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries, excluding countries where he has economic investments;
- Reopen the negotiation of two controversial oil pipelines while placing a gag order on environmental enforcement personnel.
Unprecedented attacks on immigrants and alienation of U.S. allies are happening. Racial bigotry is bolstered by governmental measures. Actions have put the poor at the bottom of governmental agenda.
Peaceful resistance against these policies and actions is growing. Peaceful resistance has always been the cornerstone of justice. Demonstrations around the world against the assault on human rights validate that we are all one humanity linked together for the good of all.
Peaceful resisters may encounter violence. This is particularly true for followers of Jesus. Early in our lives, we learned that “greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
On one occasion, Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them to pray. He replied, “Our father in heaven, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” If heaven is the perfection of human reconciliation, it must begin on earth.
Prayer is pivotal when confronting moral issues. It was the centerpiece of civil rights nonviolent protests. Our Creator provided the resisters insights on how to respond to moral crises of exclusion. Just as it helped them, prayer will help us focus on what is important as we discern how to live into the will of God for humanity.
I strongly recommend we add public prayer to our resistance movement.
People who are already engaged in the struggle are probably ready to respond. People who are not in the choir of discontent must engage. If the proliferation of deceit and bigotry is to end, you must act with courage to take a stand for justice. Through your prayers, let God in you speak to the humanity in others.
Pray that our government will live out the true meaning inherent in the Constitution, that all are created equal and should not be denied the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Pray in your own way, but pray.
Our calling is to pray and examine our lives in order to make the brave and righteous decision, then act.
Will you become a prayer resister for God’s justice?
John Powell, of Ypsilanti, Mich., is a regional pastor for Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference.
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