No Racism in the Booth

Timothy Shriver, Washington Post, October 14, 2008

The ugly turn to racism in the presidential campaign presents a bold opportunity for American religious leaders—a way to promote core religious beliefs and make themselves relevant at the same time. It’s time for a unified spiritual message: no racism in the booth.

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But the stakes are higher still. If the so-called “Bradley effect” were to take place in this election and the Obama-Biden ticket were to lose because of racism, the country would be devastated. The uproar following the 2000 Supreme Court decision that awarded the election to George W. Bush would look mild by comparison. Our values? Mocked. Our leadership on issues of reconciliation and tolerance? A joke. Our capacity to come together as a nation? Deferred, like other dreams for another generation.

The legacy of this campaign would be national shame.

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Can people of varying faiths agree? Not on everything. But on this, yes. I can’t think of anything that is more antithetical to a spiritual world view than the idea that one person would scorn another because of a God-given human characteristic. I don’t think there’s anything more central to people of faith than the idea that God loves each of us equally and without restriction. I don’t care about political differences; from a spiritual point of view, there isn’t any excuse for racial hatred. I don’t know who God wants us to vote for but I’m confident that we’re not on God’s side if we vote against someone because of the way God made that person.

{snip} Notwithstanding the importance of all these issues to people of faith, there’s no disease more unholy than hate and no religious belief more fundamental than the exhortation to love God and love neighbor. People of various faiths may differ on many issues in this political season but in my view, one can’t claim to believe in a good and loving God if one can’t stand against racism.

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Let the pulpits ring in harmony: vote for whomever you think can make our country more just, more holy, and more peaceful. But don’t vote on race.

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shriver

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