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The Voice of the Black Community

Opinion

On decency, democracy, and the New Moral Majority
Time to return to doing the right thing
 
Published Friday, October 16, 2020 12:23 am
by Rev. Oliver Thomas

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
The Rev. Oliver Thomas III is an adjunct professor at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro.

After the first presidential debate, are we (Christians and U.S. citizens) finally ready and willing to (re)commit to decency, democracy, and dialogue?


We can no longer say, “it’s your fault” for the lack of decency, democracy, and dialogue among everyday citizens, presidential candidates, and Christians. For far too long, “conservative” Christians have blamed “liberals” for the lack of decency. “Liberal” Christians have blamed “conservatives” for the lack of democracy. “Progressive” Christians had blamed “conservatives” and “liberals” for the lack of dialogue.


However, if we learned anything from (the first presidential debate) or last night’s debate, we must be honest and say “the fault lies in all of us,” particularly Christians (Catholic, Protestant) who are taught to act out of love toward all people.


Matters of race, poverty, sexism, violence, selfishness, individualism, etc. have shaped our socio-political realities such that we only want what we want – by any means necessary. My grandmother used to say, “by hook or by crook!”  


The systemic injustices of poverty, heterosexism, inadequate public education, racism, and the desecration of creation (to name a few) began long before 2020. And we were experiencing these effects in our country long before the candidacies of Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, or Mike Pence.


Decency, democracy, and dialogue are values that must return to the center of our existence as citizens of the United States and the world. Matters of decency are not limited to Christians, Democrats, Evangelicals, Progressives, Republicans, or the Religious Right. In other words, decency is a value that cannot be limited to ideology or theology. Decency is a value that moves within and beyond ideology and theology to human dignity.

Decency is a value, rooted in human dignity, because decency calls forth valuing human beings across cultural lines of difference, including age, class, ethnicity, gender, race and sexual orientation. To state it plainly, decency is the “behavior that conforms to standards of morality” (www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us).


So, what then is our standard of morality in the United States? Without question, the standard of morality for the Christian (Catholic, Evangelical, Protestant) is Jesus Christ. Therein, the standard of decency is Jesus Christ. Now, I am not suggesting that the standard for all Americans is Jesus Christ; however, in a nation where the overwhelming majority of people claim Christianity as their religion, this standard seems to have been sacrificed on the altar of selfishness.


That’s why the New Moral Majority, a new organization founded by faith leaders, centers the life of Jesus as a model for decency and democracy - care, compassion, solidarity, love-in-action - because the standard of morality does not begin or end with elected politicians in these (yet to be) United States of America. I ask the question, not in jest, but with honest concern for the collective soul of my country and fellow citizens. Without a standard of decency (or with a low standard of decency), there can be no participatory democracy because dialogue between and among citizens is relegated to yelling, trolling, lying, manipulating, exploiting, and sinning to the certain demise of “e pluribus unum.”

If we hold these truths to be self-evident (that some are created equal), then democracy must be reframed through our actions. Democracy must be reformed toward a way of living in community, born out of a standard of decency for all humanity. Democracy must be transformed through dialogical relationships that strive to heal America.

To this end, the critical hope of the New Moral Majority is a dialogical relationship between Conversative, Evangelical, Liberal, and Progressive Christians that centers Jesus of Nazareth as the standard for morality. Yet, the New Moral Majority does not intend to remove itself from the socio-political struggles of our nation. Our struggle to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God is directed toward political candidates who seek truth over lies, healing over brokenness, justice over injustice, reconciliation over violence, love over hate, and decency over indecency.


Christians and U.S. citizens are polarized by a lack of decency and a socio-political rise in authoritarianism. Despite flames of fear, fanned by numerous politicians, it is within our power to choose decency, democracy, and dialogue. The New Moral Majority is choosing to live out these values. And we believe in the power of the American people to do the same. All of us can reset the standard. The soul of our nation depends on it!


To learn more about the New Moral Majority, visit newmoralmajority.org.


Oliver M. Thomas is adjunct instructor in the Department of History and Political Science at North Carolina A&T State University and associate pastor at Providence Baptist Church in Greensboro. A native of Windsor, N.C., he earned a degree in political science at A&T State and master of divinity degree at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity.
He earned a doctorate in philosophy from UNC Greensboro.

Comments

Outstanding article! Thought provoking and wish all could hear your voice ? Thank you.
Posted on October 16, 2020
 
Love it, Buddy! So proud of you.
Posted on October 16, 2020
 
Thank you for this article Rev. Dr. Thomas. This is certainly one that community needed to read. God bless.
Posted on October 16, 2020
 
Great article, Dr. Thomas!! Our country needs more leaders who are uncompromising when it comes to decency.
Posted on October 16, 2020
 

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