I didn't answer an altar call. I didn't speak in tongues or weep or ask the preacher to lay hands on me. All I did was check a different box on my Voter's Registration form.
On May 9, 1992, I officially became a Democrat.
(I recall thinking at the time how relieved I was that my recently deceased father had been cremated other than buried, as he surely would've spun in his grave at my act of apostacy.)
My parents, good Christians that they were, had raised us to be good conservatives. They believed in personal responsibility and felt the government should not be responsible for protecting people from their own stupidity. This sounded like a common sense argument to me. Remember, I grew up during the Cold War. We knew the USSR was pointing missiles at our country, and the Great Socialist Beast was bent on abolishing hard-earned private property and turning everyone into an atheist.
And then came the smiling and charismatic Ronald Reagan. He made us feel good about being Americans. I was proud to cast my first vote in a presidential election for him in 1980. I figured that after the embarrassment of the Iran hostage crisis, Uncle Ron would surely put us all on the right track. I stuck to my GOP guns throughout my college and graduate school days--no mean trick since I did my post-graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin, one of the most liberal-leaning campuses in the nation.
And then, in the early 1990's, a weird thing happened to me. I began teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District and had my first real encounter with people living in poverty. This caused me to question things like supply-side economics, defense spending, and the effects of cuts in government social programs. I began to take a real adult look at my own convictions. I discovered that, as good a job as my parents had done in raising me to be conservative, they had done a better job at raising me to be Christian.
And I just couldn't reconcile the economic policies of the Reagan-Bush administrations with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
The Jesus I had met in Sunday School was a man who:
- taught love of neighbor (Luke 10:27-28)
- believd the poor were favored by God (Luke 6:20)
- advocated redistribution of wealth (Matthew 19:21)
- disdained accumulating riches for their own sake (Luke 12: 13-31)
- instructed his followers to be charitable towards everyone (Luke 6:30)
- was willing to sacrifice his own life, and
- even paid his taxes! (Mattew 22:17-22 and Matthew 17: 24-27).
It astounds me that today in America there are those in government who would willingly grind our national economy to a screeching halt rather than suggest that anyone sacrifice an additional cent of tax money. This may be good politics, but it is incompatible with the New Testament.
My faith teaches me that the righteous act is not to protect what I have, but to give to those who have less or nothing at all. The image to which Christians look when worshipping is not the image of a king on a throne but rather the image of a man suffering, dying, and sacrificing all that he has out of love for others. It is this spirit of sacrificial love which is the heart of Christianity.
So call me a socialist, but if tax revenues are necessary to impove our schools, care for our aged, tend to the indigent sick, aid the disabled, heal our military veterans, and create dignified employment for our citizens...
...then go ahead and raise my taxes!
That's how I feel. How about you? I'd appreciate your comments, and I thank you for taking the time to read my blog.