From the Editor

The Boring Part of Saving Lives

Showing compassion can be exhilarating — or mundane

Tim Wildmon heads a conservative, family-friendly organization based in Tupelo, Mississippi. In the days when his father, Don, ran the operation (back when I was a parish pastor), I used to receive from Wildmon newsletters printed on slick paper, telling me how pornography in adult book stores and sexual excess in movies and on television were rotting America’s soul. Sometimes the methods the Wildmons used were, I thought, ham-fisted. If they didn’t like the tone of a TV program, they’d mobilize tens of thousands of letter writers to threaten the sponsors of the broadcast. Often they chased the program off the air and scared the broadcast networks.
In spite of their tactics, I always thought the Wildmons were trying to do the right thing. Who wouldn’t want to protect Americans and their kids from sleaze? Jesus once warned what might properly happen to someone who deliberately harmed an innocent child (see Matthew 18:2-6).

But there’s more than one way to harm a child. Members of mainline Christian denominations have rightly recognized that something as boring as a spending plan can have dire consequences for vulnerable people. That’s why leaders of several denominations, including the ELCA, recently spoke out against the shape the next federal budget was taking during the past couple months. They were concerned that proposed cuts in key programs would shred the fabric of the safety net intentionally created to protect them.

In a recent interview, Tim Wildmon did some speaking out of his own. He described the mainline leaders’ public outcry concerning the evolving shape of the federal budget to be “boring,” adding that he thought it was “just one more example of left-wing social gospel nonsense.”

Why is it, I wonder, that some of us can see the danger to children in the sex industry but not in federal social policy? (We might also ask the question the other way around.)

Protecting our most vulnerable can take many forms. It can be energizing — or boring. All forms are legitimate. And necessary.