This sermon https://youtu.be/OvbvyZxka0Q or a version of it–is what I wish every American had heard. More than that, though, it is what I wish every person of every faith community in America who claims the mantle of moral leadership and teaching, had offered their adherents.
It is long past time to stop hiding behind “no pulpit politics.” Why? Not because rabbis, imams, priests and ministers shouldn’t tell folks how to vote. They shouldn’t. But because the Bible is an extraordinarily political document in which GOD TAKES SIDES. God stands on the side of the widow, the orphan, the stranger. We are enjoined to care for the earth by leaving fields fallow, to free slaves WITH provisions, as the Hebrew slaves fled Egypt. We revere the vulnerable and the humble, as we do with Moses the stutterer who thought he wasn’t good enough to do God’s work.
Biblical prophets excoriated the people for their moral and behavioral failings. They railed against cruelty and injustice. The silence of faith “leaders” amidst these same transgressions by our own government is nothing less than a chilul hashem, no matter what story those “leaders” tell themselves.
Silence always helps the oppressor. Always. And while charity is nice, it is not good enough. We have elected leaders precisely because we need more than good faith efforts to remedy social ills. Politics is how we express our values. As Martin Luther King (whom faith “leaders” of all backgrounds love to invoke) reminded us, if you stay silent in the face of injustice, even if you live to 90, you will have died decades before.
History will surely record this moment. But God will too. Those who chose silence and safety, who refused to risk offending those who need truth spoken to power–including their own–will be recorded as having failed to a staggering degree. And when, in the future, they speak of our obligations and of God’s expectations, many of us will know that they speak words they themselves do not really seem to believe, or to live.