I was teaching in a seminary in New York City when a student stated that theological moderates like me were the reason for so many problems and so many confused people within Christianity. He had recently become a Protestant after spending time in the Catholic church, and he was so sure of himself and how his professors needed to be. We had a long conversation that weekend about the main doctrines of the church and we parted as friends – I continue to be a moderate and he continues to be a passionate critic of everything he does not like.
When it comes to politics, I consider myself an independent or a moderate. During this past election cycle, I was asked why I do not reveal how I vote even to the members of my family. My friend pushed the issue and asked, “If you would be forced to choose, how would you choose?” My answer was not very good and therefore, it was not well received. I said I could not find a landing place in either party because I have trouble with the Republicans’ lack of compassion for the needs of the people and the Democrats’ lack of consideration of biblical ethics. My friend (who had stronger Democratic feelings) asked me if I thought the Democrats have no ethics, to which I replied that they have fewer biblical ethics. In the mid-1990s, James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, said that Democrats and Republicans are equally pro-abortion. The Democrats are pro-abortion for people living in the United States, while the Republicans are anti-abortion within the United States but do not bring up the fact that their economic partner China has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. I was in China around that time and when our tour guide praised Chairman Mao to the heavens, I asked him if he thought Mao has done anything wrong or if he could have improved life in China without killing millions of both the living and the unborn. He responded that the world would soon see that Mao was one of the greatest leaders. His response was consistent with the answers that I get when I ask difficult questions of my political friends.
One of my question to my Christian Democratic friends is how they can vote for a person who is consistently for abortion. I have never received a straight answer for that question from anyone. I am told that I am a one-issue person and that we should be more concerned with children that are alive. When I mention that I am equally concerned with the children that are born and those who are never born, I am told that such a concern is not possible. In this particular situation, the Roman Catholic Church should be applauded for their consistent position on the sacredness of life – lives in the womb, the lives of children, the lives of adults, the lives of the elderly, and the lives of those who are condemned to death.
For a good number of years, I was shocked by my African American friends who deny the existence of other African Americans who do not vote like they do. My first encounter of this nature was when Condoleezza Rice was serving in the Bush administration. A friend criticized the Bush administration and when I mentioned that Dr. Rice was a part of that administration, I was told that she is not black. In a different, more recent, conversation, I was told that now that Kamala Harris is the vice president, the only black US Senator is our senator from New Jersey, Cory Booker. When I mentioned that there is another black senator from South Carolina by the name of Tim Scott, I was told that he is not black.
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Because I am an immigrant, I have been asked to speak on immigration panels many times. After I spoke, people often said, “I thought you would be for open borders because you are an immigrant.” When I replied that I am pro-immigration and pro-border laws, I was told that I have forgotten my humble beginnings.
One of the things that Republican leaders should stop talking about is how much they are pro-family. Between Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, and former President Donald Trump, they had 10 wives. Family starts with promising faithfulness until death do us part. In the case of Newt Gingrich, he was married three times and had an affair with his future third wife while still married to the second. Rush Limbaugh has been married four times. It is well-known how quickly the 45th President moved from one wife to another, and it is also well-known what he thinks of women in general. (The only man who swaps wives more often is Larry King who has been married 8 times to 7 women, since he married one wife twice). Most psychologists agree that our children learn marital skills from observing their parents’ relationship; if the fathers and mothers do not honor one another and work together with compassion and love, we are setting the next generation up to do the same.
There was a time when the United States Army was known for doing things well, and with honor. Then we started to get more reports about the great waste that happens in our military, but no one is willing to tackle the issue because one will be considered unpatriotic. The budget of the Pentagon is out of control and one of the most overpriced enterprises in this nation. The next on the list is our veterans hospitals. We should provide the best care for those who have fought for our country, but the mismanagement that happens in those hospitals is awful and funds rarely reach our veterans. We have changed leadership so often, and no one is able or willing to get to the bottom of this. The treatment that we provide for veterans is often inadequate because the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a place where employees give jobs to their friends and family members, where they often do very little.
Another problem that divides Democrats and the Republicans is taxation. The Democrats want to tax everyone as much as possible and the Republicans (generally speaking) want to avoid taxes. I happen to think that we can be taxed at a higher rate than the Republicans would like, but the money has to be spent carefully and as promised. I also find that the Republicans are trying to get as many freebies from the government as possible for themselves, their families, their communities, and their companies, while the Democrats seek to avoid taxes by using all the loopholes that the Republicans created. I have been in meetings where people excoriated the awful, rapacious capitalists and then praised the opportunities our former Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama were afforded after they left the White House. With the exception of Jimmy Carter, all the people who served as president of the United States became much richer after their presidency.
Our country is greatly divided, and there is dishonesty on both sides. The votes in this past election for former President Trump and current President Biden were incredibly close. The first major vote in the new congressional session had to have a tie broken, with the 51st vote cast by Vice President Harris. But somehow, in the midst of this great divide, the moderates are to blame as they call for honesty and for Republicans and Democrats to work together.