By Alan Sherouse
To the person who canvased the First Baptist Church parking lot with political leaflets last Sunday:
Perhaps you missed our “No Soliciting” sign. That I can understand.
Perhaps a large parking lot full of cars was too hard to pass up at 11 on a Sunday morning. I can let that slide.
Perhaps you didn’t anticipate our congregation’s belief in the essential separation of church and state. That I can forgive, since you’ve probably come across a church or two that communicates the contrary.
What I find difficult to excuse is the assumption that your canvassing strategy reveals. Maybe you picked our parking lot because of its size and location, but I can’t help but think you picked it because you assumed cars parked at a Baptist church on a Sunday morning would all belong to people who think like you. At the least, you assumed the owners of these cars would be stirred by your flier and sympathetic enough to your particular point of view to go to the polls focused on what you term the “right to life.”
Your assumption might prove to be true at some churches, where a particular set of issues fall under the heading of “moral.” It’s not true at First Baptist. Our church is full of people of varying backgrounds and opinions. We don’t check our minds at the sanctuary door. We don’t look to our pastors to tell us how to vote any more than we look to a flier on our windshield. Many of us park our cars at First Baptist because we don’t want our community of faith to be a place where everyone thinks like us, or votes like us.
We are Republican, Democrat and Independent. We are conservative, liberal and moderate. We have different views on right to life and right to choose. But amidst this range, we gather together on Sundays to worship and to work, bringing our own deeply held convictions and respecting those held by our neighbors. Our faith compels us to be a voice for people other than ourselves, as your flier suggests, so at our best we make decisions that carefully consider all those populations who are most vulnerable. As such, we seek to be informed about a host of issues that classify as “moral,” and most of us seek to keep that wide view as we vote.
Our cars will be parked again this week at 1000 W. Friendly Avenue, from 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. (some will even be there by 9:15!). You know where to find us. But after you’ve canvassed the parking lot, I hope you’ll come inside. There you’ll find people reaching across the aisles for the hands of those to the right of them and to the left, praying and singing and dreaming of what our world can yet be, and acknowledging that it takes all of us in all of our diversity.
It seems to me we need more of that this election season, and fewer leaflets.