It’s a little dangerous for the preacher to get political, I know.
It’s risky to speak truth to power, but the fact of the matter is, while government needs to keep itself out of institutional religion, our faith informs who we are as citizens of this country and of the world. If our faith doesn’t compel us to speak out, what will?
The commuting of Scooter Libby’s sentence this week was the last straw for me. Today, on the birthday of our country, I thought I’d write a letter to our leader to let him know what I think.
Opinions expressed here are solely my own, as you know.
Dear Mr. Bush:
Happy birthday to us, and all that.
Truthfully, I’m rather wary of this holiday, as it seems more and more to me that we’re celebrating a distant dream rather than a hopeful reality. You know what I mean?
I didn’t think so.
I have to tell you, I know being a leader is not the easiest task, especially when effective leadership means bucking the status quo, challenging current systems and ushering in new hope for the future.
I feel for you, really I do.
I know it’s not easy, but I must ask: is there really a need to up-end democracy in such a flagrant manner as you have repeatedly, consistently done during your time in office?
We must take responsibility, I know, for putting you there (twice). Although I myself did not contribute to that effort either time, I’m wondering if I didn’t sit by too idle and uninvolved while others did?
This most recent decision of yours, to make sure Scooter Libby escapes a prison term, while not surprising, seems to be the last straw for me. I’m tired of sitting on the sidelines while you destroy our country’s international reputation, alienate our neighbors, and slowly chip away at the freedoms that have made our country great.
Maybe you feel you’re protected enough to behave in whatever manner you want, to leave democracy and the American people in the dust while you keep your friends happy, but I want you to know I’m tired of it all. For the first time in my adult life I am genuinely alarmed about the kind of country I will be handing off to my kids.
I’m not hoping, of course, that you will see the light, change your ways, fix the damage you’ve done … it’s, frankly, far too extensive by now. I just wanted to say: I am disappointed in you … disappointed that you don’t have the courage to be a visionary leader to a country with such promise. You missed the boat, but I, for one, will not stand by anymore while you leave democracy in the dust.
Happy birthday, America. May the world remember the promise of this country and stand by us as we try to pick up the dream, dust it off, and reinvent it for the future.
Amy Butler is senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. This column appeared July 4 in her blog.
Founder of Invested Faith, she previously served as pastor of several churches, including as the seventh senior minister and first woman at the helm of The Riverside Church in the City of New York. Butler holds degrees from Baylor University, the International Baptist Theological Seminary and Wesley Theological Seminary. She is a contributing correspondent at Good Faith Media.