In moments of immense national crises, America’s churches are thunderingly silent. I do not for one moment suggest that religion has or should have an instant solution to such problems. But it’s an either-or proposition: either churches are relevant to society or not; they can’t have it both ways. Either they retreat to their steeples and speak only platitudes about socio-political issues, or, in facing overwhelming national crises, they roll up their sleeves and pitch in with the rest of us.
Nothing less than a drastic change in our style and standard of living is at stake. Yet, while some of our church leaders lament loudly what I can only describe as relatively peripheral inequalities, they stand strangely still before the crises so evidently and painfully afflicting us.
This silence is further complicated by the obvious reality that self-discipline seems the only way in which we can survive these crises decently. If there’s any matter on which religion should speak, it’s self-discipline.
There are those who will claim either that church people should “stay out of politics” or that, even if they do get in, no one pays any attention to them anyway.… The conscience of the nation cries out for guidance. Either we help provide that guidance or all our interventions around the edges of “social concern” are suspect.
At the very least, when Jimmy Carter demands discipline and restraint, he should be echoed in hundreds of pulpits and in action papers from national church headquarters!
I know how difficult it is for religionists to be effectively practical. I bear scars and I have heard screams that greet any church person who takes a side in any socio-political issue. I am not suggesting, therefore, that we mount a one-night stand. ...1
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