The long primary season is over, and the nation is about to enter into an unprecedented general election campaign for the presidency. There are many legitimate reasons to consider voting for one candidate or the other, and they will, no doubt, declare their differences in strong enough language to give each of us enough fodder for decision. But troubling issues are raised in this first ever election in which one candidate is of mixed race and commonly labeled as an African-American. Media election analysts have made a big deal out of the difficulty that Sen. Obama has had, and will have, in attracting voters in the “white working class,” and that smacks of racism pure and simple. We’ve seen it raise its ugly head in a couple of the primary fights between Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton in places where it was commonly understood that few “white working class” persons would vote for a black candidate no matter what he stood for. And it also cuts the other way. Who exactly are the members of the “white working class?” Just on the surface it sounds contemptuous and demeaning of some part of our population without actually saying who they are but leaving it up to our most prejudicial imaginations to put them in a pigeon hole.
I don’t know what will happen throughout the nation, but I am deeply concerned about our own community. Whatever our politics and however we decided to vote, race has no place in it. We have many churches in this town attended by thoughtful believers, so to put the seriousness of this into perspective, let me share with you a statement from the National Council of Churches adopted forty years ago, which, I believe, applies to everyone of every religious faith and to those who express none at all.
Racism is a blatant denial of the Christian faith. (i) It denies the effectiveness of the reconciling work of Jesus Christ, through whose love all human diversities lose their divisive significance; (ii) it denies our common humanity in creation and our belief that all men are made in God's image; (iii) it falsely asserts that we find our significance in terms of racial identity rather than in Jesus Christ.
Let us make our political decisions in any way we want but not on the basis of race, and if we do then shame, shame on us.