Christians should be united, rather than divided, in their faith, according to the Rev. Lee Williams.
Reverend Williams was speaking as a representative of Search-lite Community Church in Maumee, where he pastors, and of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, a network of 40-some area churches to whom he serves as executive secretary. In a recent interview with The Blade, he said the the faith leaders cannot afford to remain quiet on the range of issues that have seen religion and politics intersect divisively in national headlines.
“All politics are local,” he said. “And people, particularly in an African-American community, don’t look for us to be silent.”
Religion has repeatedly been drawn into politics, in examples that range from the attorney general’s recent use of the Bible to justify a zero-tolerance immigration policy to continued debates on abortion that both divide and find fuel in faith communities. The retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has again drawn the latter into headlines, with many evangelical supporters counting on the president to make good on campaign promises to appoint justices in line with anti-abortion views.
Pro-life vs. pro-choice should not divide faith communities, Pastor Williams said, adding that he knows of no faith leaders, regardless of their position, who encourage abortion from the pulpit.
That includes those leaders, like himself, who politically identify as pro-choice while pastorally maintaining a commitment to life “from womb to tomb.”
“We shouldn’t deny the opportunity for a woman to make a choice,” he said. “If you’re a good pastor and she’s a good Christian, you will convince her to seek alternatives to abortion. I have done it. Not once, not twice, but many times.”
On immigration, too, the pastor lamented the way that politicians are drawing on religion. He said Attorney General Jeff Sessions erred in appealing to “church people” to interpret a biblical passage, Roman 13, as an endorsement of secular laws that, in this case, were leading to the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“If the attorney general was in my Bible class, I’d probably have to take him aside,” he said.
Advocating a more pastoral-minded response to immigration that acknowledges that while countries have borders, Christ does not, Pastor Williams pointed out that the Bible itself presents Mary, Joseph, and a newborn Jesus as refugees in Egypt.
“If it’s good enough for our Lord to seek safety in a safe place,” he said, “it’s good enough for others.”
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