Seventy-eight percent of Iowans are Christian, Jewish, Muslin, Buddhist or Hindu and 21 percent are atheist or agnostic. “Loving our neighbors as ourselves” or “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the generally accepted protocol for anyone to follow.
From time to time I’ve ignored the person who looks un-kept and downtrodden. I have avoided eye contact with the person standing at a busy intersection with a cardboard sign that reads, “Homeless — will work for food.”
Unfortunately many who worship in churches, synagogues, mosques and temples vow to follow their religious teaching are the same ones who ignore the destitute. As Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), a Polish-born Jewish-American rabbi once said, “How dare we come before God with our prayers when we commit atrocities against the one image we have of the living: human beings.”
I am greatly troubled by the lack of public outrage against local, state, national and global poverty. We have far right-wing religious conservatives cheer our president who wants to cut back on SNAP (nutritious food stamp program) expenditures by 25 percent for the 15 percent of our population who are at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level; 66 percent of basic food subsistence benefits go to children, disabled and senior citizens. At three elementary schools in northeast Iowa where I volunteer, children in need anxiously wait for their Friday backpack of food to take home to tide them over through the weekend.
I wonder what the Supreme Being thinks of the reported 64 Christian-based white supremacy groups in the USA and of people who claim not one Christian has ever committed a terrorist act? Are they the same ones who quickly forgot about witch burnings (1450-1750) and when tickets were sold in church to watch lynchings (1890-1940)?
It’s reprehensible for people of faith and non-believers to tolerate, without a word otherwise, xenophobia, immigration bans, homophobia, bullying, misogyny, building walls, transphobia, “alternative facts,” bigotry and the current voter identification witch hunt solution that’s in need of a problem.
Please put two and two together for me. Explain how a religious-touted politician can claim pro-life on one hand and permit children to use guns or support the death penalty?
How can a God-fearing politician eliminate successful family planning programs, reduce funding for child care assistance and cut worker’s compensation benefits for injured workers?
De-mystify for me the logic behind an Iowan politician with faith who witnesses two home schooled foster children die due to abuse and then cut $8 million from Department of Human Services, eliminate 800 field operators who protect children from neglect and furthermore propose $240 million for home school funding with no periodic health-care check or examination of academic progress?
Stories of human trafficking, poverty, opioid addiction and hatred demonstrated by asinine, vindictive, juvenile and embarrassing Twitter statements from political leaders while mature adults don’t even say “boo” or “what can I do to help?” is troubling.
Heschel writes, “The prophet’s word is a scream in the night.” At age 69 I’ve been awakened by that scream.
My mind and heart are not clean. I could be charged with blasphemy when I show contempt or lack of reverence for what I know I should be doing.
A paradigm shift of our identity and actions is calling.
It’s time to unlock our sanctimonious sacred doors, uphold our honorable belief and value system, publicly speak out and take action in an attempt to solve our multitude of burdens.
No one is innocent. The prophets remind us of the moral state of a people by stating few are guilty, but all are responsible.
Steve Corbin is Professor Emeritus of Marketing, University of Northern Iowa, and a 1966 graduate of Nevada High School.