On April 4, 1968, Americans lost a great leader in Martin Luther King. Notice I said Americans, not African Americans. All Americans lost a great leader that dreadful day. Dr. King transcended race, he transcended economics, and he transcended politics. A powerful voice for the poor, his leadership motivated men and women to believe that together they could affect change. Speaking with a booming voice Dr. King demanded attention, demanded justice, and demonstrated a model for non-violent protests. Dr. King, you are desperately needed today.
The church has typically been the poor people’s pulpit, encouraging the disenfranchised, the poor, and the meek to rise up and throw off the yoke of oppression. Dr. King from his pulpit, thundered about social inequality, motivating the masses to take action. But where are roaring pulpits, screaming for social change today? The poverty stricken, unemployed and the disenfranchised are on the rise yet the churches remain silent. Ecclesiastical leaders where are you? Why are your congregations voiceless while unemployment, homelessness and poverty rates are at an all-time high? Your flocks, turned inward, appear comfortable with the idea that as long as it doesn’t affect me, I’m OK or, “I’ll just throw a couple of bucks in the plate to support the food bank and that will be enough”. A deadly mentality to embrace, especially for the church. Your lack of hard hitting messages demanding social change for the poor and disenfranchised has set the tone for your members. While church sponsored food pantries meet immediate needs, they don’t influence social change.
A powerful pulpit is the perfect forum to address the inequalities that are being perpetrated upon the former middle class by this plutocratic government. Inspired by their religious leaders, every religion has been involved in battles to fight oppression. Is the oppression being felt today by many Americans any different? Who among you is inspiring your constituents to rise up and advocate for the less fortunate? Is your voice being heard above the din of the background noise? Do you go to sleep at night wondering what you can do? Strongly encouraging your flock to embrace Dr. King’s idea of non-violent activism to affect social change would go a long way in affecting the status quo. Access to this government is for those who have money or have such a loud voice the media is forced to pay attention. A church leader pounding social change rhetoric would get the needed attention and get people motivated to make the needed changes.
Church leaders are you hiding behind your churches 501(c)(3) tax exemption designation? Has the government bought your silence? The Internal Revenue Code states that “ To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e.,it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates (emphasis mine).
Have you sold out for the money? Is your religion about making your constituents feel better about themselves or are you really concerned about the social fabric of America? Do you encourage your congregates to actively engage in the present social justice discourse, or do your pew sitters simply sing their praises to their God, and give thanks that they aren’t in the shoes of the poverty stricken.
Your silence is deafening.