Freedom for all!

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1

Today is Independence Day and all over America, we are celebrating the birth of the United States of America.  In the history of humanity, America stands unique as the "enduring experiment in democracy" as a former president described us.  A government of the people and by the people is not only unique but also speaks of justice and fairness in theory.  Its charter describes certain "unalienable rights" such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  These rights literally empowered the masses to live freely and to participate in their own governance and leadership.

I have always found Independence day to be bittersweet.  While, I am truly blessed and incredibly appreciative of the freedoms, privileges, and people of the United States, I am always hesitant to fully celebrate.

Martin Luther King Jr. described the American charter as un-cashed check.  He would describe it as a promised unfulfilled for many of its citizens.  Indeed, at the time of the beautiful constitution, the rights described were not offered or promised to those in slavery, nor to Native Americans.  In fact, the irony of the American charter is that is specifically sought to  create and protect the rights of some, while oppressing and denying others the same rights.

Since the 18th century, wars have been fought, several spiritual awakenings have occurred, and the civil rights movement came to change  our understanding of the civic nature of this American Charter.  People have died so that all people, regardless of color, creed, religion, or national background also have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  This is worth celebrating.

We must continue the process of critically examining our national policies and activities in light the American Charter.  While celebrating the freedoms we enjoy, let us not ignore the reality that many of the luxuries that we enjoy may be at the expense of others in the world.  Throughout the world, America is known for its predatory capitalism, where we seek to exploit other peoples for their resources, without any significant benefit or wealth development for the indigenous people.  We see this in American Pharmaceutical companies who routinely test their medications on Third world nations, without appropriate consent, and without making the medications tested available to them while at the same time generating millions of dollars in profit.  We see this in textile cooperatives where workers abroad make pennies on the dollar and are treated to sub-human conditions.  There are many more examples, but the point is that we can not enjoy the privileges that we have without considering whether those privileges come at the expense or exploitation of others.  We must remember that America makes up 6% of the world's population, but consumes over 50% of all the world's resources and has over 60% of the world's wealth. 

Interestingly, the heart of Christianity is liberation and freedom.  Jesus came that we would be free spiritually, socially, and even economically.  Reading the Bible in his appropirate socio-historical context, makes this quite clear.  I believe it is the Christian's role to advocate for freedom while never advocating a pseudo-freedom that is based upon the denigration and exploitation of others.  This is the heart of scripture and the practice of the early Church.

I hope that today you have a fantastic Independence day celebration.  It is my hope that you will have a thankful heart, a joyful spirit, but a critical eye so that what we experience, may be experienced by others as well.

May God bless you,

Pastor M Traylor