Seventy-eight percent of Iowans are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu, and 21 percent are atheist or agnostic.
“Loving our neighbors as ourselves” or “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the generally accepted protocol for anyone to follow.
From time to time, I’ve ignored the person who looks unkempt and downtrodden. I have avoided eye contact with the person standing at a busy intersection with a cardboard sign that reads, “Homeless — will work for food.”
Unfortunately, many who worship in churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples who vow to follow their religious teachings are the same ones who ignore the destitute. As Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), a Polish-born Jewish-American rabbi once said, “How dare we come before God with our prayers when we commit atrocities against the one image we have of the living: human beings.”
I am greatly troubled by the lack of public outrage against local, state, national, and global poverty. We have far right-wing religious conservatives cheer our president who wants to cut back on SNAP (nutritious food-stamp program) expenditures by 25 percent for the 15 percent of our population who are at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level; 66 percent of basic food-subsistence benefits go to children, those with disabilities, and senior citizens. At the three elementary schools in northeast Iowa where I volunteer, children in need anxiously wait for their Friday backpack of food to take home to tide them through the weekend.
I wonder what the Supreme Being thinks of the reported 64 Christian-based white supremacy groups in the U.S. and of people who claim not one Christian has ever committed a terrorist act? Are they the same ones who quickly forgot about witch burnings (1450-1750) and when tickets were sold in church to watch lynchings (1890-1940)?
It’s reprehensible for people of faith and nonbelievers to tolerate, without a word otherwise, xenophobia, immigration bans, homophobia, bullying, misogyny, building walls, transphobia, “alternative facts,” bigotry, and the current voter identification witch-hunt solution that’s in need of a problem.
Please put two and two together for me. Explain how a religious-touted politician can claim to be pro-life on one hand and permit children to use guns or support the death penalty?
How can a God-fearing politician eliminate successful family-planning programs, reduce funding for childcare assistance, and cut workers’ compensation benefits for injured workers?
Demystify for me the logic behind an Iowan politician with faith who witnesses two home-schooled foster children die because of abuse and then cuts $8 million from Department of Human Services, eliminates 800 field operators who protect children from neglect, and furthermore proposes $240 million for home-school funding with no periodic health-care check or examination of academic progress.
Stories of human trafficking, poverty, opioid addiction, and hatred demonstrated by asinine, vindictive, juvenile, and embarrassing Twitter statements from political leaders while mature adults don’t even say “boo” or “what can I do to help?” is troubling.
Heschel writes, “The prophet’s word is a scream in the night.” At age 69, I’ve been awakened by that scream.
My mind and heart are not clean. I could be charged with blasphemy when I show contempt or lack of reverence for what I know I should be doing.
A paradigm shift of our identity and actions is calling.
It’s time to unlock our sanctimonious sacred doors, uphold our honorable belief and value system, publicly speak out, and take action in an attempt to solve our multitude of burdens.
No one is innocent. The prophets remind us of the moral state of a people by stating few are guilty but all are responsible.
— Steve Corbin
UNI professor emeritus of marketing