How we treat our critics is the clearest indication of our theology. From “If God is Love.”
Last Saturday two friends and I went to the Women’s March in Concord, NH. It was glorious, inspiring and heartwarming to see so many women, as well as men and children, with messages on signs as diverse as the people. Many issues, yet, one hope.
At one point, I noticed several women standing quietly with their signs on the outskirts of the crowd close to the street. From their signage, one saying ‘Pray to End Abortion,’ one could infer they were evangelical social conservatives. It gave me pause to see them there. Then, I knew clearly what I needed to do. Simply, welcome them.
So, I approached, extended my hand, smiled and introduced myself. “I’m Rev. Stephanie Rutt. I’m an interfaith minister and just wanted to say I’m glad you came today. I feel it is so important that women with all different points of view can stand together.”
The first woman remained silent but looked at me with what seemed a mix of surprise, slight suspicion and even a bit of fear. The next one I approached seemed genuinely glad and open. She smiled and I instantly felt we could have gone for a cup of tea. The last woman seemed slightly preoccupied with her cell phone but was courteous. Hummmmmm, I thought. Just like us. As the morning went on, I imagined how good it would have been if one of the speakers had acknowledged and welcomed them. If not, I thought, what’s the point?
I am not naïve. I am fully aware that, given the opportunity, many on the religious right would institute a theocracy based on their religious beliefs instead of supporting a democracy encouraging the freedom of expression of all religions. Yet, if we hunker down on our side of the line and portray them as the enemy, how is progress toward a one America, indeed a one humanity, ever to be made? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us that someone has to be willing to stop the cycle of hate – and there is plenty of hate, prejudice and fear on both sides.
And so, I extended my hand, and heart, to my evangelical sisters with the prayer that, in doing so, we might just open some possibility of finding, together, that which we have in common – a fierce, passionate, uncompromising love for God.
And, for me, I’d let God take it from there.