I think this topic is becoming a regular 4th of July weekend tradition of mine, mainly because I have had it with the idea that unless someone is a Fox News watching, gun toting Tea-Party Republican they are not a “Real American”. Beyond the fact that such definitions of “Real American” often do not include anyone who is not white. Beyond the fact that such definitions of “Real American” often do not include anyone who lives in a city. Beyond the fact that such definitions of “Real American” often do not include anyone who is not a Christian. Beyond the fact that such definitions of “Real American” often do not include anyone with a higher education degree. Beyond the fact that such definitions of “Real American” often are decided along ideological lines.
Beyond all of this and so much more, and am sick unto death of being told that I am not a Patriot, that I am not a “Real American” because I am a Liberal. In fact, because I am a liberal, I have been told (both in person and through the airwaves) that I am a Communist Terrorist who hates both America and God…
That hating God part was added this week by Missouri Congressman Rep. Todd Akin, in an interview with the President of the Family Research Council.
I thought about singling out Rep. Akin in this article, and making this be about him… but the reality is it is not about him at all. He and his comments are not some aberration, not someone who mis-spoke in a passionate moment… No, his comments represent a whole segment of the American population who have come to believe that they are the only Real Americans, that they are the only people who love God, and who have elevated their own opinions to the level of being the standard not just for Christianity, not just for our Country, but for humanity as a whole.
And quite frankly I’m sick of it. Yes… I’m more than a little pissed off. I’m not “defensive”… I’m righteously indignant… and yes, this is part of what I am preaching on this Sunday, on the front lawn of the church, by the main road, with a very loud Public Address System. Because I’m done allowing others to define my patriotism by my liberal politics or my liberal religious faith.
There is one piece of the argument around Rep. Akin’s comments that I will accept some responsibility for… Rep. Akin obviously has no idea what it means to be a liberal. That’s okay, I get that. Most liberals don’t have a clear understanding what it means to be a liberal. If they did, they might realize that liberalism and progressivism are not synonyms… rather they are very different political movements. I’m not a progressive. I’m a liberal. And I’m an American.
I will take responsibility for teaching what it means to be a Liberal. Such is the real purpose of the sermon on the lawn this Sunday.
I’m an American who has served over 10 years in the U.S. Military (so far). I have deployed multiple times in defense of this country. I came back to the military after becoming a clergy-member not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I fly the American Flag, I love my country, and I accepted at an early age that I might die in defense of it. I am an Eagle Scout. I am the son, grandson, and great-grandson of American War Veterans. I can touch each of the war memorials in Washington D.C. and name the ancestors that fought in those wars. I have walked the fields of Arlington National Cemetery for days taking photos of those who served from my liberal religious tradition.
I love God. I see the presence and spirit of God all around me, each and every day of my life. I do my best to follow in the teachings and to preach in the tradition of Jesus of Nazareth. And because of that, I will find forgiveness for Rep. Akin sometime soon… it just may take a few more days.
And I am a Liberal. Deal with it.
Yours in faith,
Oh, and on a final note… is anyone else as deeply amused as I am by the fact that Rep. Michelle Bachmann keeps citing early American Unitarians as her example of the “Founding Fathers”? Namely John Adams and John Quincy Adams? Her campaign for President keeps making me smile… almost as if it is some art project designed to appeal to my odd and twisted sense of humor.