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If CRC clergy and members decide to "get political," one would hope that they consult sources of news and opinion other than Fox News, which makes no secret of its Trump loyalties and is the President's cable channel of choice.  I am not suggesting a boycott of Fox but a caution against exclusivity.  It is very sad that many of us CRCNA folks cannot engage in reasonable discussion of policies or politics from a Christian perspective with fellow church members because they have decided to limit their information-gathering to a single TV or radio source.

A recent example of deception:  Last week Fox broadcast images of a group of Philadelphia Eagles players kneeling during the National Anthem -- described by Fox as a protest -- when they were actually kneeling in PRAYER well BEFORE the anthem.  Once it was called to their attention, Fox issued an apology for making a "mistake" (!?) not on air but only on Twitter, and then deleted the segment.  How many of our brothers and sisters  will insist during after-church conversation that those football players in the Fox News report were disrespectful of the flag and the anthem and opine that President Trump was right in calling them "SOB's" (he used the full epithet) and that maybe the athletes should find another country to live in.

We can bemoan the increasing divisiveness in recent years all day, but as long as we limit ourselves to a single source of information (propaganda), things are not likely to improve, regardless of the number of "evangelical"  leaders we cite as support for a certain political ideology.  We are not likely to eradicate all forms of "confirmation bias" from our viewing habits, but I hope and pray that when we do, we can at least recognize it for what it is.



I agree, Doug.  Not only is the media polarized, though.  In my 75 years of life I have never seen such thorough-going polarization and politicization of virtually all aspects of life.  Mention politics in any context and partisanship is now assumed -- even though we may still talk about family politics, church politics, office politics, etc.

I was thinking not of Franklin Graham not so much in connection with denominational politics as political rhetoric at rallies, prayer meetings and other non-ecclesiastical settings.  I am drawn more to Overture 12 than Overtures 13 and 14.  Overture 12 emphasizes education and discussion of public policy issues rather than positions taken by OSJ or other agencies.  IWe have missed many opportunities for  witness by our failure to connect the dots between such issues and our beliefs, as grounded in Scripture and the Reformed Confessions.  Discipleship in this regard seems like a foreign concept.

Over more than 35 years of professional work in the public policy arena -- representing not-for-profit health-related organizations, state government (civil service,  not patronage or political appointment), academic, and for-profit consulting on governmental relations and policy research -- I had a great deal of interaction with people in the legislative and executive branches of government, as well as some in the judicial.  Much of my work was in so-called "Bible Belt" states, with people who were self-described evangelical, born-again Christians.  Again and again I heard the refrain from them:  you're talking about Sunday things - now it's Monday and a whole new of conditions and principles apply.  The message was clear, and unapologetic, that never the twain should meet.  Discipleship was in one sector - the rest was secular. Exceptions were generally made for abortion and gender-related issues.

Banner Editor-in-Chief Shiao Chong said it succinctly and well, I think,  in his May 2018 editorial:  "It is time we determine whether our faith is shaping our politics or our politics has been shaping our faith."  Connect the dots. Search for greater political common ground.  "We desperately need these discussions."

In an ombudsman-like role throughout much of my career -- translating the actions of government for constituents and translating the concerns of constituents for govt officials  -- I conducted many Advocacy Workshops with diverse participation.  I can attest that, with careful attention to avoidance of raw partisanship and emphasis on mutual respect, and making necessary distinctions between policies and politics, many areas of common ground can be fruitfully explored.  Surely we Christians of Reformed persuasion can do better than we have done.



Excellent examples, Bonnie.  They should serve to inspire those who are concerned about a culture that allows so many people to resort to firearms related violence to address their various grievances.   The parents, friends and neighbors who have tragically lost children and young people who were gunned down in schools and other settings would certainly welcome the involvement of Christians who will stand with them and show their support for common-sense approaches to reduction of such violence.


Ken, lest their be some misunderstanding, my reference to "racially insensitive" pertained to the President's remarks in last week's White House meeting, not to your contribution to this discussion, a contribution which I appreciate very much.  Please note that I did not call the President a "racist."  That is not my judgment to make, even if there is a well-documented pattern of such remarks.  Ultimately only the Lord knows what is in his heart. 


There seems to be much confusion regarding the meeting in question.  The latest news is that two Senators and a cabinet secretary now say that the president did not say what was originally reported by one of their colleagues.  This is a reversal from their earlier statement that they "could not recall."  Suddenly their memories are in line with the president's.  Has a miracle occurred, giving them simultaneously a sudden bolt of memory?   The meeting was held in the cabinet room and not open to the public; however,  they were conducting the public's business.  The meeting was not secret and did not involve classified information.  The writer apparently knows what is in the person's heart when she writes about one of the senators that he "hates the President and all that he stands for."   Maybe we can agree that it is business as usual in a toxic environment (?)  Many of us yearn for leadership which will take us out of the swamp of toxicity rather than contributing to it.


We do not have to rely on "alleged"  comments made in closed meetings, where there is no audio or video record of transactions.  In the case of President Trump, we have ample record of statements made to detect certain patterns. There is a complete history of tweets in the Trump Twitter Archive.  There are also video clips (and printed transcripts) of public statements made in various venues.  These often contradict claims made, which makes me wonder why he even bothers to assert "I never said that," when the record shows otherwise.  Presidential historians will have a field day with this documentation.  Christians have many opportunities for an honest assessment, i.e. one not clouded by partisan or tribal biases or by the temptation to limit the assessment to reductionist "derogatory labels."  What is needed, in my humble opinion, is a discussion of what criteria Christians should use.


Has anyone in the CRC, in The Banner or other Christian publication published an exposition of "The New Normal" since the advent of Donald J. Trump in the public arena?  Our president has been applauded for his disdain of "political correctness," but what has he substituted?  A "New Political Correctness" a la Trump?  How can the serious Christian navigate these murky waters?  I recall the mantra of the Viet Nam era: "Our country, right or wrong!" and "Our president, right or wrong!"  Will it take another Pentagon Papers, another Kent State massacre, and another Watergate to shake us into a new awareness?

Thank God for the many "Christlike acts" of financial contributions for services to the people of Haiti, such as you describe.  Many private citizens have done so, and continue to do so, for years after the catastrophic 2010 earthquake.  I don't think that financial contributions and supportive public policy statements are mutually exclusive, do you?  It is hard for me to believe that it would be "Christlike" to make racially insensitive statements after making  "Christlike" contributions of money -- and not just vis-a-vis Haiti. Speaking of "action,"  I submit that it takes a bold, courageous ACT to speak truth to power, and such ACTIONS may be louder than Christlike money followed by silence.

This will be my first CRC Synod, as an elder delegate, and I am looking forward to it.  For almost 40 years I lived "beyond the pale" of the CRC, i.e. in areas of the country without a nearby CRC at the time, and haved served on church councils in the Presbyterian (First Pres, the Abraham Lincoln Family Church, in Springfield, IL); United Church of Christ, and United Methodist Church in Missouri. I was active on the regional (conference) level as well as on the global, as a participant in a quadrennial UMC General Conference, so am not unfamiliar with denominational polity and politics. 

As a retiree with more than 30 years as a policy analyst, legislative liaison, governmental relations consultant and association ED experience I am intrigued by group process and how things get done -- or fail to get done -- in organizations, including ecclesiastical bodies.  Since I have missed many of the hot-button debates over the past 40 years, I have read the Agenda carefully, and have asked many questions of fellow CRC's.  I certainly appreciate your writing, Meg, as well as the comments posted.

It's been suggested that my background and experience could bring a "fresh new perspective" to discussions at Synod.  I don't know about that.  I will probably do a lot of rookie listening.  On the other hand, if you, or other "junkies & polity wonks" can offer any helpful insights, I would be very appreciative. 













As an alternative to the ubiquitous "appoint a study committee" and "appoint a task force," how about commissioning an individual with appropriate credentials to conduct the study?  Study committees and task forces tend to rely on consultation with such individuals in any case, and Synod always has opportunity to review the product.  Cost savings and other efficiencies might result from the alternative.  I am tempted to call for a committee to study this proposal, but will resist the temptation to see "appoint a study committee to study the effectiveness and efficiency of study committees" in the next Agenda for Synod.

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