Thoughts : Progressive Christianity (Politics) : Church Camp vs. Political Conference

I’ve been thinking over the past week or so whether I should be spending my Easter weekend (29th March to 1st April) at a Church camp or a political conference. I was interested in both yet I knew more people from Church and perhaps would feel more comfortable in a Church camp than a political conference. Because of this, I decided to go for the Church camp, however yetserday I read an email which was instrumental in making me change my mind. It was the speech of Fidel Castro at the Monterrey Summit. As I read through it, I suddenly became burdened once again for the poor and oppressed. The realities of the cruelty of the world’s capitalistic system pierced my heart. I knew I had to go to the political conference and not the Church camp because I had to find out more about what’s happening politically in the world. I knew I couldn’t let my decision on which to attend be based on whether I knew more people in this place or the other. Or whether I would feel comfortable with these people or the other. I had to go with my heart – which was for the poor and oppressed. And the political conference was a way for me to find out more about the poor and oppressed and be in solidarity with them against the oppressive powers of the world.

Most of my Christian friends probably wouldn’t understand why I would choose a political conference over a church camp. Guess I can’t blame them. The word “political” would already make many feel so repulsed. But, that’s the sentiment that goes around. True in a way. Politics is always dirty. I love to study about politics not because I want to be a politician (I always tell that to people) but because I want to work from “bottom up” to go against the politicians of the day and the system of the world. It’s an evil system. It’s a dirty system. That’s why I study politics – to fight against it, not to be part of it. I will never be a politician in a government because if you become one and want to rise up the ladder, you’ll have to be subordinated to the system – which is an evil one that glorifies money and power above all else and does not truly care for the poor and oppressed.

I’ve thought of how I would be spending my Easter morning at the Refugee Detention Centre protesting against the government and for the rights and freedom of the refugees if I were to go to the political conference, rather than with fellow Christians if I were to go to the Church camp. I think most Christians would think it sad (and perhaps sinful!) for a Christian to spend such a holy day like Easter protesting against the Government! I see things very much differently! I think Christians should be politically involved in the world and it’s imperative to go against one’s government if what they do is evil. And I believe God smiles up there whenever he sees people on the streets standing up for the poor and oppressed. I reckon political activism is to a certain extent his game too :) I know the majority of Christians would disagree with me, but what the heck. I strongly believe God’s heart is truly for the poor and oppressed…and a Christian should live out his faith in the political realm too! And it seems like I have some Christian leaders on my side too:

Blessed are those who work for the political liberation of the world, keeping in mind the redemption wrought by Him who saves from sin and saves from death. (Archbishop Oscar Romero)

A church which does not unite itself to the poor in order to denounce from the place of the poor the injustices committed against them is not truly the church of Christ. (Archbishop Oscar Romero)

A religion true to its nature must also be concerned about man’s social conditions. Religion deals with both earth and heaven, both time and eternity. Religion operates not only on the vertical plane but also on the horizontal. It seeks not only to integrate men with God but to integrate men with men and each man with himself. This means, at bottom, that the Christian gospel is a two-way road. On the one hand, it seeks to change the souls of men and thereby unite them with God; on the other hand, it seeks to change the environmental conditions of men so that the soul will have a chance after it is changed. Any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a dry-as-dust religion. Such a religion is the kind the Marxists like to see as an opiate of the people. (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

…in the search for salvation we must avoid the dualism which separates temporal tasks from the work of sanctification. (The Second Conference of Latin American Bishops held at Medellin, Columbia, in 1968)

Spending Easter fighting for the oppressed at the Refugee Detention Centre? I reckon that’s one of the best ways to spend Easter! After all, I’ll be there fighting for liberation and freedom for the Refugees. That’s what Easter is all about isn’t it – resurrection, freedom, victory over the evil forces and death, liberation…etc. This is faith being lived out, not just in words, but in deeds…

So should I attend the Church Camp or the Political Conference? You decide…I rest my case…

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