15 February, 2008

On the Results of Political Activism

Disclaimer: None of the activities mentioned in this post took place during paid Americorps time.

On Feb 12, I posted a facebook event to help publicize a donation drive for Obama. Being Lincoln's birthday, this event which was originally promoted here, sought to commemorate the connection between Lincoln and Obama by encouraging his supporters to donate $5.00 and $.01, the denominations we use to honor our former president. I had a lot of fun putting everything together and my group potentially raised about $500 for Obama (not bad for a little inspired facebook trolling).

Now that you have the background information, I can get to the point. I found the responses to my invitations much more interesting than the awareness and fund raising they generated. Many of the Ron Paul supporters (or Paulites as I like to call them) immediately left anti-Obama/pro-Paul messages on the wall of the event. I didn't mind very much that the messages were there, but I think a better response would be to create their own events to reach people instead of piggy-backing on my own work, so I deleted most of them. (Ack! Obama Supporters Censor Free Speech!) In case you didn't know, I can't stand Ron Paul...but I deleted the Hillary and Huckabee comments also [Get Your Own FB EVENT!].

I find political banter to be highly entertaining and I love hearing arguments for and against my chosen candidate. (however, I do not enjoy being baited...unless it's done in fun.) However, some of the responses directed personally at me were disturbing. They showed up in my FB Inbox in response to notes I had sent to all of the people I invited.

The first one reads:
"DO NOT SEND ME ANY MORE PRO- OBAMA MESSAGES!!! IF YOU CALL YOURSELF A CHRISTIAN, THEN WHY DO YOU VOTE AND CAMPAIGN FOR A MUSLIM CANDIDATE????"
I don't know that this response really deserves another riposte, but note the fact that the responder is calling my faith into question. All-caps signifies Yelling in an online medium. The main point of the argument is based on a fallacious email being maliciously spread by uninformed forwarders. Perhaps this is why the less-educated states are going for Hillary? I'll come up with a terse yet kind response to this later.

Here's the second of note:
"Chris, I will not help nor vote for a candidate who supports the murder of the unborn. Also, could you help me understand how those who say they know Jesus Christ can adamantly advocate such an individual? I am trying to wrap my mind around this."
This one is more insidious and just as fallacious as the first response. Again, my faith is called into question and the basis of outrage is mis-information. Oh goodness, I could talk for hours about churches that tie their Christianity into a political party (on both sides of the aisle) and Christians who only believe what James Dobson tells them. I grew up listening to Dr. Dobson. I like him as a person. His radio shows engaged me with interesting topics from a young age. Adventures in Odyssey totally rocked. However, I think he's allowing his political affiliation and societal standing to influence his interpretation of scripture. It's a different facet of a syncretism that is vehemently condemned from traditional pulpits across the country.

I started to respond to the second responder in an angry fashion. It suddenly occured to me that this person was probably feeling as cynical toward me as I felt in reaction. I know from previous experience that this person has no understanding of social justice or racial reconciliation and makes no effort to mask contempt for the concepts. Instead of being very very mean, I ended up responding harshly, but with a personal vulnerability. My deepest thoughts on abortion are too personal to share here, but if you want, I'll relate them privately. Overall, I don't feel that attempts to legislate this issue out of existence will work. I agree with what John Perkins said (at Wheaton, no less):
"I believe in the Right to Life...that means ALL life, not just the life of the unborn..."
I believe in the right to Life, as well as the right to Live. We cannot neglect one for the other.

This interview with Barack Obama, published in Christianity Today, was written by my friend and former classmate Sarah Pulliam. It showed me a politician who understands the need to balance religion and political office. His Christianity informs his actions, but his Christianity is not informed by a voting bloc.

Election issues aside, I think this whole facebook exchange has shown me that we need to pay closer attention to what political candidates have said instead of considering someone's support for them to be a tacit acceptance of a socio-political issue (and then questioning their faith). No one should become a one-issue voter. None of our choices are good enough for that.




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2 comments:

funke said...

Yeah, one of my Colo. Spgs. Christian friends posted a STOP! WARNING! message about how Christians needed to get involved in politics because this dangerous radical Muslim was running for president. Confused, I did a little google searching. Even the really conservative Fox News reported he was a Christian. So I left a link to the news article on the Facebook Note and within hours, it was gone. So I guess that is about the extent of my politicking for this entire campaign. I'm kind of ambivalent about who should win at this point, but I do care about truth.

Peace.

Matthew said...

Paul > Obama