This letter is based on a story I heard about a new preacher whose first sermon was on "The Great Commandment" (see Luke 10:25-37 and Matt. 22:31-40) Each Sunday thereafter he continued to preach the same sermon. After the fourth Sunday, his congregation told him they wanted a different sermon. To which he replied, "But we haven't learned how to Love yet?"
Maybe repetition is good for us. For almost three years now I have been writing letters about the consequences of hate-speech. Since we currently are awash in hate-speech along with hateful actions, maybe I need to repeat myself more forcefully. (I know we are in an election year and politics is a bare-knuckle sport, but I cannot find a scripture that suspends love or condones hate in such a circumstance. )
First I believe hate-speech is:
• A loaded gun with a hair-trigger.
• A hidden bomb with a short fuse.
• A virus looking for a shroud.
Out-of-control hate-speech leads to violent actions that will eventually destroy our freedoms and our way of life. It has already begun. Our Constitution clearly states that our government grants us freedom of and from religion. But we are seeing some of our lawmakers introducing and in some cases passing laws admittedly based on their own religious beliefs. Consequently some people are being forced to live by religious beliefs that they do not believe in. We see laws passed singling out women who are not free to seek badly needed health care. We see mean and hateful punishment inflicted on some groups while others who have broken the same laws are given lesser punishments. Although some laws are never passed they still send a hateful message to the people who are being targeted.
If we want to improve our national image, we have work to do. What if every newscast focused on the good things first instead of highlighting our shortcomings first? What if every newspaper put the bad things inside the paper and used the front page to remind us of the many loving things being done? What if there was a national holiday when everyone spoke lovingly to and about even those they usually criticized and forgave those who spoke ill of others?
It is not too late.