Christian Humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, rational inquiry and a commitment to the values taught by Jesus as a guide to the ethical life are not only compatible with Christianity, they are fundamental to a proper understanding and interpretation of Christian belief. Being a Christian means at the least feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, healing the sick, supporting the poor, comforting the lonely, seeking peace and standing with the powerless against the mighty.
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We could cite numerous examples, but an opinion piece by Dana Milbank in the Washington Post about Paul Ryan's firing of the House of Representative's chaplain for his prayers for the poor and the defenseless nicely summarizes why current administration supporters want Reverend Patrick Conroy silenced. What the Senate Chaplain said in his prayers got the right wing angry becaused it showed their hypocrisy.
Here are some excerpts (elipsis omitted) from the commentary:
We know this much: Ryan’s office complained to Conroy about a prayer he offered on the House floor during the tax overhaul debate that those who “continue to struggle” in the United States would not be made “losers under new tax laws.” Ryan admonished the priest after the Nov. 6 prayer, saying, “Padre, you just got to stay out of politics,” Conroy told the New York Times.
He was warned. Nevertheless, he persisted. Over the five months since Ryan’s warning, Conroy dared to continue to preach the teachings of Jesus on the House floor:
He prayed to God that lawmakers would help “the least among us.”
He prayed for them to follow the example of St. Nicholas, “who fed the hungry, brought hope to the imprisoned, gave comfort to the lost.”
He admonished lawmakers “to serve other people in their need” and “to pray for the unemployed and those who work but still struggle to make ends meet.”
After an immigration deal collapsed, he urged “those who possess power here in Washington be mindful of those whom they represent who possess little or no power.”
Only in this perverted time could a priest lose his job after committing the sin of crying out for justice for the poor. But then, look around: Everywhere are the signs of a rising kleptocracy. The $1.5 trillion tax cut did make winners of corporations and the wealthy.
And actions since then show that the Trump administration is making losers of the poor.
Conroy, of course, didn’t preach about such truly political things; he prayed, generically, for compassion. In the prayer that earned him Ryan’s reprimand, he merely reminded lawmakers that “the institutions and structures of our great nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle.”
He prayed that lawmakers “guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”
Such heresies continued. He prayed for “peace and reconciliation where those virtues are so sorely needed.” He prayed for them to rise above “self- interest” and “immediate political wins.” He prayed for them to promote “justice, equity and truth.” He admonished them to “show respect for those with whom they disagree.”
Speaking truth to power has always been dangerous, but it is more so when it confronts the most powerful political forces in our nation on a daily basis in the corridors of power. This is what Jesus did and look what happened to him, so should we be surprised at what happened to Father Conroy? Should Christians acquiesce when power exerts itself against compassion and justice?