The Matthew 25 Network

Many of you know I’m an enthusiastic supporter of the Matthew 25 Network. Here’s a letter I wrote that’s on their new website … the site is worth checking out!

Dear Friends,
There’s a little saying I’ve referred to often over the years: The proper response to misuse is not disuse, but wise and proper use. The saying helped me a lot in my twenty-four years as a pastor, and it still helps me in my current work as author, speaker, and activist.
It’s particularly appropriate in this election year. A lot of us feel that we’ve watched large sectors of our Christian community in the U.S. engage in several decades of divisive, ineffective, and downright counterproductive political engagement. At best, many attempts at engagement have been superficial, simplistic, and subject to binary thinking where one or two wedge issues easily distinguish the “good guys” from the bad. At worst, we’ve watched too many of our fellow Christians slip into a “culture war” mindset where neighbors became enemies to be defeated and silenced, not loved as we love ourselves. In addition, we’ve watched too many members of our faith communities be manipulated by cynical politicians who knew what tune to play to get people of faith marching obediently in their parade.
Many of us – sadly, I include myself here – stood on the sidelines and complained about the wrong being done by “the Religious Right.” In private, we might say that the major media figures didn’t speak for us, but we responded to faith-based misuse of the political process with faith-based disuse. We didn’t realize, as we now do, that disuse tends to favor those in power and support the status quo.
As I’ve watched with sadness what has happened in recent years, I’ve promised myself again and again that I wouldn’t just stand on the sidelines complaining this election season. That’s why I’m so thrilled about positive, constructive initiatives like the Matthew 25 Network. Drawing from Jesus’ powerful parable about his solidarity with “the least of these,” this network invites us as people of faith to step beyond individual self-interest, and even beyond the interest-group politics of “what’s best for us” – whether “us” is our denomination, religion, party, or nation. It invites us to consider how to use our vote on behalf of the neediest, the most vulnerable and poverty-stricken, and the voiceless … so that their concerns are our own when we vote. For us, this is inherent in what it means to be followers of Jesus.
Based on these values, the Matthew 25 Network has chosen to support Barack Obama. Does that mean that every one of us is in full agreement with every detail of Senator Obama’s campaign? Of course not: we’re electing a president, not a Messiah! Blind, uncritical support is part of the misuse that we’re trying to move beyond. But it does mean that a wide array of committed Christians – Catholic, Evangelical, Charismatic, and Protestant – are mobilizing pastors and priests, seminarians and theologians, Sunday school teachers, religious educators, and faithful church-goers to seek to model wise and proper use of the political process this year in hopes that Senator Obama will be our next president.
Learning from past mistakes, we realize it’s not just who we support that matters – it’s how we show that support. So the Matthew 25 Network will be creating honest and positive messages for broadcast on Christian radio, and for publication in Catholic, Evangelical, and other periodicals. We’ll have a vigorous online presence, and we will organize voices on the ground to speak out in appropriate ways and venues. In everything we do, we will seek to model wise and proper engagement in the political process for people who are deeply rooted in Christian faith.
Here are three ways you can help:
1. Go to right now and join up.
2. While you are there, offer a contribution.
3. Tell your friends about your decision not just to observe and complain, but to be positively involved. Forward this email, and refer folks to
For nearly 2000 years, followers of Christ have sought to live out their faith in the real world – under a variety of political systems: empires, feudal systems, tribal systems, monarchies, oligarchies, totalitarian regimes, anarchy, corptocracy, or democracy. In our American democracy, we have struggled, stumbled, fallen, and gotten up again, over and over, learning each time as we moved forward. We have grappled with how our faith related to declaring independence, opposing slavery, confronting child labor and economic depression, embracing the dream of overcoming racism, and so much more.
Now we face unprecedented global crises: caring for our fragile and wounded planet, building a just peace in situations of conflict and fear, and eliminating extreme poverty. Electing the wrong president will set us back even farther in these crises – something we cannot afford to do. Electing the better president will not solve everything; it will only be a first step in the next chapter of our history, but it is an important step.
We invite you to step off the sidelines as an observer or critic. We hope you’ll join us … praying for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven and seeking to be humble makers of peace, joyful workers for the common good, and dedicated servants of “the least of these.”
Brian McLaren

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