This week saw a couple of great events here in Alabama. The first was here in Birmingham. Rev. James Evans, pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church and author of the syndicated column “Faith Matters”, spoke as part of the Over the Mountain Democrats’ “A Conversation With….”
A Big Crowd Gathered To Hear Jim Evans At the Chabad Center In Mountain Brook
As our fearless leader John Crenshaw said, this was pretty amazing: a Baptist minister speaking at a Jewish center, sponsored by a group of Democrats in the heart of Mountain Brook (a very red suburb of Birmingham). Jim Evans is a powerful progressive voice of faith in our state, and he drew a crowd of 250-300. He spoke about the proper relationship between faith and politics, using the story of Jesus answering the question, “Should we pay taxes to Caesar?” He said that people of faith have three responsibilities: to ensure that the government works for the common good, to help the government maintain proper boundaries so that citizens meet government officials as equals, not supplicants, and to say “no” when the government oversteps its bounds.
We, as people of faith, or as people of no faith but with good hearts, have to speak out. When religious leaders get political power, their capacity for spiritual growth starts to die. They end up doing and saying whatever is necessary to remain in power. And when political leaders co-opt religion, they distort it beyond recognition. Either way, we end up with officials who twist the truth and use scare tactics to keep their constituents in line. The two most important things we can say are “baloney!” and “fear not!”
Jim Evans (r) with Equality Alabama Chair Howard Bayless
OTM Dems founder John Crenshaw
Jim did his best to be nonpartisan, and I think he really is. I’m with him; I rarely vote a straight party ticket in local races. There are good people in both political parties, and they deserve our support. But power corrupts, and the citizens have to be responsible for reining it in. Those with money and influence have to speak up for those without. We are all entwined, all part of a community, and we can’t allow differences of class or race or belief to divide us.