With this incredible quote, self-proclaimed Christian and Democratic Senator Cory Booker sums up religious bigotry and hypocrisy in a way that’s hard for anyone to deny.
Every day we see and hear lawmakers and people of “faith” using the word of God to hurt others.
As the ACLU reports, this “discrimination takes many forms, including:
- Religiously affiliated schools firing women because they became pregnant while not married;
- Business owners refusing to provide insurance coverage for contraception for their employees;
- Graduate students, training to be social workers, refusing to counsel gay people;
- Pharmacies turning away women seeking to fill birth control prescriptions;
- Bridal salons, photo studios, and reception halls closing their doors to same-sex couples planning their weddings.”
Meanwhile bigoted lawmakers spew their extremist viewpoints and pass laws against minorities, women, members of the LGBTQ community, the young, the elderly, the homeless, people who are otherwise disadvantaged.
Over time, the positive messages of the world’s various religions – founded in love – have been twisted and reinterpreted or reinvented to fit the selfish and extremist agendas of those who use religion to hate, bully, abuse, oppress, enslave, and kill others.
In the wake of the 2016 presidential campaign and election, leading Republicans have called for some sort of litmus test for immigrants, for restrictions on Muslim immigration to include an all-out ban from certain countries. There have been calls for registration of Muslims, special ID badges, the closure of mosques.
The current occupant of the White House has issued two executive orders essentially banning Muslim immigration, first from seven mainly Muslim countries and then from six countries.
Fortunately, both those bans were blocked, but as Vox explains they could survive provided the Trump administration can convince the courts that his “travel ban” is not actually a “Muslim ban.” Writing of Trump’s second executive order, Vox explains:
Politically, everybody knows where the executive order President Trump signed on March 6 — temporarily banning people from six majority-Muslim countries, and nearly all refugees, from entering the US — came from. It was a revised version of a broader executive order he signed January 27 (which was put on hold by West Coast federal courts after a week), which was a fulfillment of his promise to “suspend immigration from terror-prone regions” in the first 100 days of his presidency, which was, in turn, a reframing of a promise he made in December 2015: “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
Possibly the most fascinating aspect of this kind of mindset by Trump and other is that these people present themselves as being godly, pious, and humble in their devotion to their Christian faith.
Aware of this disconnect, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) has addressed that very concept using a powerful quote he has used on multiple occasions.
In his quote, self-proclaimed Christian and Democrat Cory Booker sums up religious extremists and hypocrisy in a way that’s hard for anyone to deny.
“Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people; before you tell me how much you love your God, show me in how much you love all His children; before you preach to me of your passion for your faith, teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live and give.”
While we cannot be certain, it appears that this quote originated in a Facebook post from March of 2010, made when Booker was in the middle of his term as Mayor of Newark, New Jersey (2006-2013):
Relating the need for renewed unity in the USA and its relationship to the founding of the country – to the Declaration of Independence itself, Booker told the graduating students:
[T]hat declaration of independence, that declaration of interdependence, that small words at the end, it says, we pledge to each other. To make this work, we mutually pledge to each other our lives and our fortunes and our sacred honor. Those aren’t just words to be inscribed on a wall. We have to make a choice to live them in our hearts. What does it mean to give forth your sacred honor?
Well, don’t think it means some big speech or a big election or Congressional debates. It’s a choice about what you do right now as you engage the world. Will you show that love for your fellow American no matter what? No matter if they’re not manifesting it toward you. I’m a big believer that we’ve got to lead with love. Even when they criticize you, I say “Love them, for they’re teaching you humility.” When they heap scorn upon you, you have a choice to make, and I say, “Love them for showing you and helping you discover how you are resilient.” When they doubt you, love them for giving strength and courage to your dreams. And when they cast you in the darkness, love them for letting them show you that you have within you an inextinguishable light. We have a choice to make in America.
Will we be people that react to the world, or will we be individual lights that say, “No matter how tough it gets, no matter how dark it gets, I am going to ignite myself and show my truth, blossoming where I am.” But this is difficult. It’s difficult to live your values. It’s difficult to put them into action every single day, and I get weary of people who preach their patriotism and don’t live it. I get weary of people who want to tell me about their faith. I have a saying that I say all the time that, before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people.
Before you tell me how much you love your God, show it to me in how much you love all his children. Before you preach to me about your passion for your faith, teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbors. To me, I grow frustrated with folks who don’t understand that patriotism is not just love of country because you can’t just love your country without loving your countrymen and women. You don’t always have to like folks. You don’t always have to agree with them. But how you engage them with just love or grudging tolerance, with love or by spewing out darkness, that’s what defines you.
So, fellow liberals and progressives, “what defines you?” The choice is yours to make… right here… right now. Your country, our country depends on our solidarity and our continued ability to see and work and live beyond religious extremism and bigotry.