Who is “Us”?

Circleville Herald, September 16, 2008

The Circleville Friends Worship Group, more commonly known as Quakers, welcomes our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered brothers and sisters in faith.

We thank Mr. Fred Clarke for his Viewpoint column “John McCain’s Thank You” published on the Herald Op-Ed page of 15 September.  Mr. Clarke wrote of Mr. Mark Bingham, one of the heroes of Flight 93 on 9/11 and a gay man.  Mr. Clarke notes Presidential candidate John McCain praised Bingham’s heroism, while at the same time campaigning daily to deny gay citizens in our nation equal rights and protections before the law.

Constantly through our imperfect human history, politicians have sought advantage by defining a segment of persons as “them,” subject to persecution and exclusion from the community. Whether it has been “witches” in Salem, Massachusetts, Jews in Germany, blacks, women, immigrants, “Communists,” “terrorists” or now our gay brethren in this current and past election seasons, politicians have appealed to the darker and fearful aspects of our nature.

Jesus in the Parable of the Great Banquet (Luke 14:15-24) teaches us that there is no “them”; there is only “us,” and all are invited to the table in the just and compassionate Kingdom of God.  Jesus taught this lesson of inclusiveness over and over, noting that the outcast Samaritan was more justified before God than the priestly Levite.  Jesus’ angry words were reserved for the smug, politically well-connected church of his time.

As Friends (Quakers) many of us believe we are called to follow Jesus in “The Way,” as the early Christians referred to their faith, and to live, conduct our affairs in this same radically compassionate manner. We thank Mr. Bingham for his attempt to spare the lives of his fellows on Flight 93, although many would likely have voted against his equal rights. We thank Mr. Clarke for his kind Herald Op-ed column. We welcome all to our traditional quiet Friends Meeting for Worship , Sundays, 2:00 p.m. at One Community Ministries, 7494 Tarlton Road (after October 1st at Aunt Eek’s store, 9800 SR 22 east).

Brad Cotton

On behalf of the Circleville Friends Worship Group