Charlotte’s Letter to Sen. Cruz on Love of Neighbor

Dear Senator Cruz, Since you are my Texas Senator, I often receive letters from you reporting on your work in the U.S. Senate; here is a letter to you in response. This is not so much a point-by-point political argument about specific ways you and I would approach our nation’s problems and solutions (you and I seem to have very different opinions on many of these matters). Rather, since you are a self-proclaimed Christian and I am a Christian minister, this will be more a reflection on the priorities of Jesus Christ and how his values might help you and your fellow senators better care for “the least of these” in America. (You probably recognize Jesus’ words in the parable from Matthew 25). Of course there are countless differences between Jesus’ time and ours, but there are also some timeless attitudes he demonstrated and some abiding charges he delivered that should challenge any of us who dare to wear his name: Christ-ian. data Since you are a man who speaks openly about your Christian faith, may I remind you of the fundamentals of this faith. Since you are a public servant, might I make some suggestions about how you could serve this nation more effectively… 1) Love you Neighbor as yourself Jesus was pretty clear about priorities – his and ours: we are called to love God with heart, soul, strength and mind and we are expected to love our neighbors as ourselves. He was also clear about who is a neighbor and how we are to be neighbor. In a nation such as America, our citizens are free to understand and worship God as they see fit. I am grateful for the bold vision of our Constitution and the way our First Amendment protects people from state and federal incursions into our religious practices. I am a minister who believes very strongly in the separation of church and state because I see how marrying religion and politics has deeply compromised both our government and the church of Jesus Christ. That said, Jesus’ call to be the neighbor and to love our neighbors might inform and improve how Americans could live together in our society for the common good. A Christian discipline for the love of neighbor demands an unselfish generosity and a willingness to sacrifice our own preferences and convenience for the good of the other. But I am deeply concerned about our neighbors here in Texas and across America; I am concerned that their own government is working against them instead of for them. Those who finally have access to affordable health care may lose it if you have your way; the push to repeal the Affordable Care Act sounds selfish. Your pledge to work against immigration reform instead of working with President Obama to find solutions sounds foolish. Your effort to undermine our public school systems sounds short sighted. Such actions would undo the progress we have made as a community of neighbors, a community that looks out for one another: for “the widows and the orphans,” for the “little ones,” for the “strangers” among us, for those who are trampled under the feet of the rich and powerful. Your programs and policies that increase the benefits of the privileged and compromise the possibilities of the underprivileged are not the way of the Christ. 2) More is Less and First is Last When you read your Bible, I hope you especially notice Jesus’ words that proclaim “the least among you is the greatest;” that the “last shall be first and the first shall be last.” Throughout the story of Scripture, God has always honored humility. One of my favorite biblical characters is Jesus’ own mother. Mary’s Magnificat celebrates God’s mysterious, upside-down-way in the world that honors the poor and lifts up the oppressed. When followers of the Christ acknowledge that same reality in our own day, then…

we too must do whatever we can to speak for those who have no voice, to stand for those who have no standing, to align ourselves with those who are maligned by the rich and the powerful.

I am deeply concerned about the gridlock in Congress that keeps you from cooperating together to work for the common good of ALL the people of America. These days – even more than most – you elected officials of Congress appear to be representing your own interests instead of the interests of those you are elected to represent. There is too much self-promotion and preening, too much self-righteousness and condemnation. ted-cruz-me-me-me-shutdown-10-17-13-webThere is too much hubris and not enough humility. Your inflammatory language is inexcusable. Your refusal to compromise with your colleagues is harmful. Your unwillingness to consider all sides of any issue is small minded. Your alignment with the rich and powerful is completely upside down from the way of the Christ. Sometimes I wonder who you think your “neighbors” are. If you continue to call yourself a Christian, then it would make sense to use the same definition your Christ used. If this has slipped your mind, then please read again the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke chapter 10. Respectfully, Rev. Charlotte Vaughan Coyle

15 thoughts on “Charlotte’s Letter to Sen. Cruz on Love of Neighbor

  1. Thank you for your clear statements of the core values of the Christian faith. Much better than the selective use of biblical phrases to support a self-centered and contrary belief – sometimes described as “God is on MY side” instead of “seeking to be on God’s side”.

    1. Thanks David. Yes – we all would do well to line up with God’s agenda, not our own. I believe that the work of God in the world is very large and includes a lot more people than some Christians imagine. Thanks for reading and thanks for the comments. Peace…

  2. Thank you Charlotte for such a powerful letter. Unfortunately it will likely fall on deaf ears. I would love to see Jesus visit Washington and place His fingers in the deaf ears so that they would hear and listen. The politicians who have hijacked much of Christianity for personal gain are defeating the hard work that the true church of Christ is striving to accomplish. Thank you for taking an honest and righteous stand for real Christianity. God’s blessings be upon you! Pastor Steve

    1. Thank YOU Pastor Steve – for reading and also for the meaningful conversation. Jesus “visiting Washington and placing his fingers in deaf ears” is a wonderful image. I love it! Since I left congregational ministry two years ago, this opportunity to blog about intersections of faith and culture fell into my lap. I’m humbled and honored to have the time to ponder these complex issues more deeply. I’m grateful for a diverse audience that is willing to engage with me and stretch my thinking. It takes all of us, doesn’t it? Peace…

      1. I had rather see Jesus go to the Senate and House and upturn their tables and throw the money changers out!

  3. Thanks Charlotte for this wonderful thesis. I would like to say that America was founded on the principle of the freedom to practice whatever faith you choose. If you choose to be Agnostic, Pagan, Wiccan or an Atheist, that is your choice and no one should condemn you for it. Remember many of our founding fathers were not Christians, they were deist, therefore they wanted a separation of Church and State. Being a practicing Catholic, I will never vote for any Republican who brings religion into their campaigns, your choice of spirituality is your business and not anyone elses. Let’s leave religion out of our politics please.

    1. Agree Cenna. I too am grateful the Founders honored religion and allowed for an appropriate place in our society. I’m also grateful they were wise enough to limit the influence of specific religious doctrines and dogmas. Brilliant! Thanks for reading and thanks for the comments. Peace…

    1. Thanks Jack. We all keep hoping. Thanks for reading and thanks for the conversation. Peace…

  4. Wow Charlotte what a great letter and even better pointing out the slighted side of their Christian proclamations. I thank you for putting this all so eloquently and doing Jesus work. May God Bless you.

  5. Thank you for saying what I believe in my religion. I have a sign in my home that says,”You know that ‘love thy neighbor’ thing? I meant everybody.” I look at it everyday and wonder why so many “Christain” politicians don’t remember this. They only seem to love themselves and their ilk!

  6. I have observed that some people that yak the loudest about their religion are often the same person that is the least inclined to support people of color, the elderly, the mentally ill and children of poverty.

    Some politicians do what they do …because they can. Period. Think Flint, MI where people of poverty struggle with water issues.
    Your letter was right on.

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