One of my favorite contributors here at America’s Right is Lisa Fritsch. She’s an incredible woman, an endless font of optimism and faith, and someone whom I cannot help but admire. Imagine my glee when she told me that she is working on a book. An excerpt from that upcoming book, Obama, Tea Parties, and God, follows below. Enjoy. — Jeff
I’ve remarked often how the Tea Party Movement reminds me a great deal of the Civil Rights Movement. As such, I think of it along the same lines as a modern day civil rights movement no so much in the way we are fighting for rights, but, in the way that we must carry ourselves and be accountable to one another. There is so much to be learned from the Civil Rights movement of the past.
In light of the Tucson tragedy and the upcoming elections that are sure to be intense, now more than ever we must remember the legacy and resurrect the wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King. What we are fighting for is only as noble as the means to our victory and the image of love we project. As we call ourselves and each other to stand up, it’s an imperative that we stand with God, honor, and humanity. Luckily, we don’t have to start from scratch. Dr. King left us a blueprint for our own struggle. Dr. King wrote freedom’s manifesto. In it is a model for excellence, grace, God’s hand, and victory. All quotes are his.
Like the Civil Rights Movement itself, the work of the Tea Party must be based on Faith. The Tea Party must follow in the civil rights movement’s principles of nonviolence and civil disobedience. In the words of Dr. King “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline,” To achieve continued success the Tea Party must apply important lessons from the Civil Rights movement that came before:
- Follow the path of Light
- Embrace Our Neighbors in the struggle
- Approach the world with Love
- Fight The Courageous Fight
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
One important thing to keep in mind is that those who oppose us feel just as strongly about their platform as the Tea Party supporters. Those who shout slurs of “tea bagging,” “redneck,” “racists” are doing so in darkness. Our response must be light. We cannot allow ourselves to taint our movement by succumbing to the will of darkness for that will only further divide the country and unhinge our platform and message. The way to respond and to retaliate is in love and concern. We can correct our adversaries where they are wrong, but, in doing so we must put on the armor of Christ and counter them in love and light. How do we do this? We don’t attack back. We respond with the fundamentals of our message and apply the message to the issue only, not the person.
“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers”
At a class I taught this past year, “Lessons learned from the Civil Rights Movement,” the question of who the Tea Party should accept and reject came up. I was thinking in the way of signs and angry rhetoric, but, the class was thinking in terms of lifestyle. Specifically, a gentleman wanted to know what should be the Tea Party’s take on women who were pro-choice, or gay members in the Tea Party. My short answer was that the Tea Party’s message cannot be about rejection, but, acceptance and that we are called only to love our neighbors as ourselves and love God with all our heart. It isn’t up to us to reject someone based on a lifestyle choice. It isn’t our calling.
Immediately, a lady raised her hand and countered this, saying, “I do think we should be careful about who we let into our movement. We don’t want to weaken our message.” It struck me for the first time that must be many more believers with this point of view where she came from. God is love – surely and truly. Part of us being embraced in that love is to show actions of love. I don’t believe God wants us here rejecting HIS children in order to defend him or to keep a message purified.
None of us are worthy. Except by the grace of God do we even live and breathe to regret our sins. How can anyone go about rejecting another without knowing the character or the heart of the person simply based on the decision to abort a child, or, that they are homosexual? In my more stubborn years, I looked down on these issues as well, thinking that I was more fit spiritually. Well, at least I … But, if I say that, of course, I am loathe to look towards my own direction of sin. For the fact that I have not been faced with certain obstacles and decisions are for God’s grace, not a testimony to my own strength and moral courage.
Perhaps the gay man has shown strength and moral courage in areas where I have been weak: patience and long sufferance. The woman who has had the abortion is a charitable and loving philanthropist with virtues of self control and a kind tongue whereas we are quick to scorn, easy to rile, and slow to give.
Jesus showed us the best example. King of kings, he came to earth in poverty and humility. He went straight to the weak and lowly: the tax collectors and the prostitutes. Are we too good to stand on principle with a gay man or woman, or a woman who has had an abortion or supports it? Most certainly we are not.
“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”
One particular goal we must strongly work on is to re-define what it means to be a conservative. For too long we have been shackled to ideas of narrow mindedness and stymied as bigoted hypocrites. We must make an effort to give a better PR campaign that expresses who we are by our hearts and our intentions for humankind.
I know we have our Christian beliefs of pro-life (I am too) and heterosexual marriage (I believe in that too), big BUT here, BUT it is only our obligation to keep our own house clean as we see fit. If we come across a neighbor whom we believe to keep a dirty house, is it Holy to keep them out of our own house saying that ours is too clean to receive them. Loving our neighbor as we love ourselves doesn’t mean that we love the way they keep their house; it means we love them for being part of God’s creation. We can love our neighbor without being fond of her and “approving” of her. We can love and want the best for any person without addressing the state of their house.
Besides are we keeping our own house clean merely to be above our neighbors, or to boast superiority in the face of other’s shortfalls? Or, are we keeping our house clean so that it is pleasing to God and to ourselves. If it is the second of the two, we should know be content and thankful that we have a gift of servitude in our hearts. If it is the first of the two, then we must surely acknowledge that while our house is clean, our hearts are not.
Whenever a Christian has an opportunity to show love to someone with whom they think they should not approve, it is a crucial moment to show the love of God. It is chance to be an example of his light and to hope for a positive change without demanding it. For we are not in a place to demand anything of anyone else. We can only hold ourselves accountable. What better way to bring out the best in someone else, than to first offer the best of ourselves.
Conservatives can no longer be the party of behavioral rejectionism wherein it does not directly affect our independent liberties. If we do not show love and inclusion then we condone hate. We give our enemies permission to hate us in return. If we want to change the cycle of hate, let us be the first to throw down the gauntlet of love, the only thing with the power to cast hate out.
The Courageous Fight
“If you will protest courageously, and yet with dignity and Christian love, when the history books are written in future generations, the historians will have to pause and say, ‘There lived a great people – a black people – who injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization.’”
Oh, Lord, I pray. Let us leave a legacy of dignity and let it go viral, rippling and infecting all of civilization for generations to come. Let is set off beams of light and spark joy, love, and gratitude for humankind. For we are God’s divine creation put here for no nobler, yet no more challenging task, than to love one another.
The best and most beautiful thing Glenn Beck did to restore honor at his 8/28 rally was to tell people to “leave your signs at home.” I don’t think all signs are bad, but when people show up with messages that are not cognizant to the issue, it drowns out what is really important. And, what a mighty rally it was even without them. It was a vision of peace, unity, and understanding. Rather than dilute the occasion, gathering without the signs let all the light from above shine down on every soul who came to witness a restoring of honor.
The giftedness of Martin Luther King and his call for non-violence was that he called for dignity. We too must march to that same beat, letting dignity and grace be our redeeming force in our protest.
What we say is just as important as how it is said. We must march and protest, but, we must do so in the sway of grace and poise. Further we can speak softly letting our votes be our stick.
What was a political movement and political philosophy now has the potential to be something much greater than all of this. The Tea Party movement has been called a restoration of many things: the Constitution, honor, greatness, liberty. I see it as all those things, but lately I see it as an opportunity to restore each other towards humanity, and to be part of a movement to deliver our nation back to God.