From the Editor

Let’s get Jesus back

Jesus is not the property of any political group.

Sometimes other people say things a lot better than I could have. This month, given the importance of the coming election, I’m going to defer to journalist Bill Moyers. Here’s what he said in a May 24 speech in Washington, D.C.

“If you want to know what’s changing America, follow the money. It is widely accepted in Washington today that there is nothing wrong with a democracy dominated by money. But, of course, there is. Money has democracy in a stranglehold and is suffocating it. [When he ran for president in 2000,] Arizona Senator John McCain said, ‘Elections today are nothing less than an influence peddling scheme in which both parties compete to stay in office by selling the country to the highest bidder.’

“Let’s get Jesus back.

“The Jesus who inspired a Methodist ship-caulker named Edward Rogers to crusade across New England for an eight-hour work day. Let’s get back the Jesus who caused Frances William to rise up against the sweatshop. The Jesus who called a young priest named John Ryan to champion child labor laws, unemployment insurance, a minimum wage, and decent housing for the poor — ten years before the New Deal. The Jesus in whose name Dorothy Day challenged the Church to march alongside auto workers in Michigan, fishermen and textile workers in Massachusetts, brewery workers in New York and marble workers in Vermont. The Jesus in whose name E.B. McKinney and Owen Whitfield challenged a Mississippi system that kept sharecroppers in servitude and debt. The Jesus in whose name a Presbyterian minister named Eugene Carson Blake — “Ike’s pastor” — was arrested for protesting racial injustice in Baltimore. The Jesus who led Martin Luther King to Memphis to join sanitation workers in their struggle for a decent wage.

“Justice is no partisan issue. It doesn’t matter if you’re a liberal or a conservative. Jesus is both, and neither. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican — Jesus is both, and neither.

“We need a faith that takes on the corruption of both parties. We need a faith that challenges complacency [toward] all power. If you’re a Democrat, shake them up. If you’re a Republican, shame them.

“Jesus drove the money-changers from the temple. We must drive them from the temples of democracy.”