With all the recent political rhetoric regarding the state of our nation and the separation of church and state and what kind of nation we are or should be, I’m going to take a sidewise step from my usual topic tonight and jump into the fray.
As you all know by now, my home state of Indiana was ravaged by tornadoes yesterday. I think there were 17 in all and the current death toll stands at 13. My brother Doug, who serves as a lay minister in a small church in southern Indiana, was up most of the night responding to calls for help, whether someone was in need of a generator, shelter or just a few comforting words from a person who cares. My cousin Susan and her husband Monty will be headed down to the Henryville area tomorrow, carrying relief supplies and assessing the damage, ready to park their camper and live there for as long as it takes to get people back on their feet. (Susan & Monty spent close to 3 years in Louisiana after Katrina heading up a relief organization there.)
My brother and cousin happen to both be Christians and on the conservative side – mostly – of the political spectrum.
Here in New York, a good friend of ours spends countless hours donating his time to Gods Love We Deliver, an organization that delivers healthy food to people who are too sick to cook or shop for themselves. He has also traveled to areas devastated by tornadoes or hurricanes, leaving his work to help families in need.
This friend is gay, not affiliated with any particular religion and very much on the liberal end of the political spectrum.
My take on the church and state issue is this: I don’t want to live in a nation where a particular religion holds sway and tells everyone how to pray, how to live, what to wear, say & enjoy. I do want to live in a nation of people who pitch in to help each other when help is needed, regardless of background, race or religion. I want my born again cousin and my gay agnostic friend to always be able to work side by side helping those in need. It makes me proud to see people set aside their religious and political views and just be good to each other.
In my book, that’s what being a good person (and in the context of this discussion, a good American) is all about.