The voters have spoken. They have chosen. They have selected the next President of the United States.
I have been cautious in my own political advocacy, at least about publicly supporting candidates. In the light of this day, with a President-elect who has espoused policies I condemn, I pledge here and now to advocate for what I believe to be good, and just, and right, and to resist what is evil, and oppressive, and wrong.
I expect that I will find a good deal to say over the next few years.
The President-elect has called publicly for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. Amidst the horrors perpetrated by the Islamic State, I understand the fear. I understand it, but I will not be governed by it. Nearly a quarter of the world’s population, 1.6 billion people, lives and worships peacefully guided by the Muslim faith. I will resist an America that excludes or oppresses people because of their religion. I will do it for Muslim, I will do it for Jews, I will do it for Buddhists, I will do it for Christians, I will do it for those who espouse no faith.
No religious tests. Ever.
The President-elect has pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He has announced no replacement plan. His party has sketched a plan, but it remains nebulous.
I have family members and friends who, without the ACA’s protections against denial of coverage, could become uninsurable because of pre-existing conditions. They, more than any, will have need of health care. They are now at much higher risk of losing access to it.
Health care should serve the health of our nation’s citizens, and not the financial interests of a few of its citizens.
The President-elect has pledged to appoint officials who will actively work to end the marriages of people I know and love. He would tell them that they are secondary citizens in the society, unworthy of full participation.
I say that love between people deserves the acclamation and support of its society. Commitment is hard. Love is hard. Family is hard. Making it harder is a rank injustice.
Marriage equality must remain the law of the land.
The President-elect has declared that global climate change is a myth perpetrated by a foreign nation. He defies the evidence of scientists from around the planet. People already suffer from sea level rise. It will get worse even if we make significant changes now. It will get much worse if we make no change at all – and much, much worse if we accelerate the transfer of carbon from earth to atmosphere.
We must change our ways.
I could go on. I should go on. And in the days ahead, I will go on. Because health care is important. Because #BlackLivesMatter. Because human dignity is worth defending. Because the seas rise.
For now, though, I return to the day of my ordination, when I asked to have these words read:
‘Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you, Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”’ (Jeremiah 1:4-10)
I was young, then, and that was part of what resonated with me. I admired the fierceness of the prophet, his willingness to challenge the powers of his time, and his insistence that the king’s faithlessness, follies, and faults would lead to national disaster. I did not think that I would be called to echo him.
I fear, however, that I shall have to do just that, and warn against the senselessness and sin of excluding some of our citizens from full participation in our society. I fear that I will have to warn against the senselessness and sin of favoring the powerful over the marginalized. I fear that I will have to warn against the senselessness and sin of proclaiming greatness in the absence of goodness.
I fear that, more often than not in these coming days, I will fail.