One of the hallmarks of Catholic theology is that is rarely falls into the dynamic of it must be this or be that. Most often the true Catholic expression is a “both-and” position. When that perspective carries out into the modern landscape of life in secular America is will inevitably face push back or rejection from a world that is increasingly this or that. There are two options and no middle ground. Sound familiar? A friend of mine was recently called a CHINO (Catholic in name only) because they expressed frustration with their political choices in that they wanted a candidate the was pro-life, fully pro-life, and a candidate that has a social agenda of charity and compassion. When my friend was telling me the story my thought was that we as Catholic Christians and not shaping the world, but the world is shaping us. In reading today I came across another excellent article by Tish Harrison Warren on her discussion with Justin Giboney, a lawyer and political strategist in Atlanta who grew up in the Black Pentecostal church. Giboney is also the president and a co-founder of the AND Campaign, a Christian civic organization meant to represent people of faith who do not fit neatly into either political party. The thread of the article that found resonance was “what it’s like to embrace traditional Christian theology while also opposing the political stances of many white evangelicals, and what it’s like to be committed to social justice in ways that differ from those of many secular progressives.”
If the moniker “culture war” seems appropriate, it has been going on since the 60s. One outfall of the “war” has been a framework in which progressivism and conservatism are billed as the only two legitimate options. That framework has been so effective that a lot of people can’t even discuss politics outside of this “progressive versus conservative” framework.
Giboney said: “But that’s not, historically speaking, how many Black Christians have engaged. Our view of social justice is often different than the secular progressive view. It’s not about individual expression. It’s about liberation through civil rights, equity, full citizenship and making sure that we have an impartial system. That’s not to say there’s no overlap. But, on the whole, the roots of the secular progressive view are in your 1970s counterculture movement, whereas ours come from an Exodus motif of liberation.”
Goboney went on to say “When I was running campaigns, it became very clear to me that there was this false dichotomy in politics. If you cared about social justice, you went all the way to the left. And if you were a Christian, that meant you left some of your convictions aside. If you cared about what we would say is “moral order,” then you would go all the way to the right. And we know that when you look at the Moral Majority and things like that, compassion just was not there. Looking at the Black church historically, it touched on both those things, but very differently. Why are social justice and moral order separate? Why is our conception of love and truth completely separate? Because when I look in the Gospels, they’re not separate. They’re interdependent. They’re not mutually exclusive.”