Dear Reverend Ken: Enough already
The recent Seattle Times article regarding one of our local pastor’s call for a boycott of major companies (Microsoft, HP, Boeing) has been the talk of news radio and editorial pages for a week or so now.
What crime or crimes committed by this unholy corporate trinity have led to this? Are chemicals being dumped in our rivers? No. Are workers being exploited in sweat shop conditions? No. Racism? No. For some, perhaps just the fact that these are large multi-nationals would be crime enough, and yet that isn’t it either.
The problem you see, is that these three corporations want to make sure you can’t discriminate when hiring, and the good Reverend, backed by many conservative Christian organizations, is encouraging people to boycott in order to make certain that the right to discriminate remains in place.
And so once again I find myself putting my pastor suit in the closet, and putting on something else (maybe Seahawk Blue this week?) because I’m embarrassed by the association. I want to recover the dignity of the calling, want to infuse the words “Christian” and “Pastor” with associations that are joyful, just, generous, and forgiving. I want to – most days. But these spats of misfocused energy and misallocation of ecclesiastical power sometimes send me into a relapse.
The man is wrong on so many levels…
- First, there’s the issue itself, which I’ve addressed elsewhere (see July 4th by scrolling down on this link). I’ll see if I can get the teaching available for podcasting.
- Second, there’s the issue of our primary and secondary callings, as articulated by Jesus Himself. He takes all the complexity, all the power politics, all the theological posturing, and denominational complexities, and sweeps all of it away as just so much rotting waste. Instead, he offers this: Love God – Love People. How is threatening to boycott a company that wants to mandate all applicants be treated equally in any way close to the heart of Jesus’ teaching? And this from a man who should know better than the most about the price of discrimination.
- The early church was conspicuously lacking in political power of any kind (left or right) and yet somehow found a way to turn the world upside down. This was because she stood firmly on the ground of #2 above. This ground is fast disappearing in all corners of the religious world, as political power becomes the tool of choice for religious agendas. Pushing those who think differently than we do to the margins of the culture has no precedent with Jesus, though we’ve seen it done plenty of times throughout history in His name.
But today, I’m not saying ‘enough’ to Boeing and Microsoft. I’m saying ‘enough’ to Reverend Ken. Enough rhetoric. Enough inciting, intentioned or not, of self-righteousness. Enough creating division. Let’s try a different road. If the Samaritan could feed and clothe someone who was different than him, and he's held up as an example, maybe I can find it my heart to hire the best person for the job. I think it's what Jesus would do.