If we are to address these evils, we must understand and confront the underlying ways that America operates religiously and how it has co-opted Christian language in order to do so. I believe that this can and must be undone by religious people, and by Christians or folks who understand how Christian language and practice is being abused for power.
“The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival aims to shift the distorted moral narrative, often promoted by religious extremists, from a focus on narrow issues like prayer in school, abortion, and gun rights to a focus on how our society treats the poor, those on the margins, the least of these, LGBTQ folks, workers, immigrants, the disabled and the sick; to how we institutionalize equality and equal representation under the law; and how we realize the desire for peace, love and harmony within and among nations” (Souls of Poor Folks, 21).
I believe, along with many others, that one of the most potent ways to do this is to reveal the distorted moral narrative of Christian nationalism to be the lie that it is. This is why I have been so fascinated by the Radical Reformation & Quaker theology, Liberation Theology in its many forms, Howard Thurman’s work on Jesus
, and re-reading books like Revelation in anti-imperial terms
These five evils put together gives a very clear picture of what I mean by the Religion of Empire, a system that benefits the few at the expense of everyone and everything else, (mis)using the name of God to justify its actions.
I believe that any contextual theology meaning to make sense of American society today must address, and continue to address these five interlocking evils. It must give us ways of not only naming the sins of our society, but insights into how to make a society founded on “the ethic of love.” I would love to see more churches, meetings, and other faith communities of every tradition take as its starting point these five evils and continue to preach on them, teach on them, analyze them, and undo them in our own communities and institutions. Let us not settle for anything less than a complete “revolution of values” in our faith communities, schools, businesses and more. What we have is not good enough, but if we work together, we can create that which we want to see exist in the world.
As Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II says,
With the reality of systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and the often false moral narrative of Christian nationalism, we are in a moment in time which we need a deeply moral, deeply constitutional, anti-racist, anti-poverty, pro-labor, transformative fusion coalition, where people of all different races, colors and creeds come together and work together to engage in a moral direct action, massive voter mobilization, and power building form the bottom up, state by state and even in the U.S. Capitol. We need this to change the narrative and insist that we will no longer engage in attention violence against the poor and pother interlocking injustices that connect to poverty.