Radical People of Faith (by Ella Hereth)

Friend and fellow organizer Ella Hereth agreed to let me post this essay she wrote shortly after the 2004 Elections:

Family and friends,

Over the last two days I’ve heard again and again from the news analysts
and reporters that Bush won because Americans are voting their "moral
values" over economic issues, healthcare, and civil rights. Every time I
want to scream that we ARE voting our moral values on the left! Values
that say that every person deserves health care, economic security,
decent education, and basic civil rights. I’ve got some news for those news
analysts. We are deeply faithful on the left. Whether we believe in god,
justice, democracy, or freedom. We have far more moral values than the
right will ever have.

A woman I know who works in a nursing home on the North Side of Chicago
is one of the most religous people I’ve ever met. She is committeed to her
church and to her god. She told me the other day that she is sure that
George Bush is the devil himself. To vote for Bush, she said, would be
to vote for the devil. A president who knew god could never hurt so many
people. This woman voted her morals too on election night, but she sure
didn’t vote for Bush.

In some of the only good news this past election night, we here in
Illinois elected Barack Obama to the U.S. Senate. One of the first
people Obama thanked in his victory speech was his minister, Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. (www.tucc.org) Wright is a
black liberation theologist and Trinity is one of the largest liberation
theology churches in the country. Trinity’s tagline is "Unashamedly
Black and Unapologetically Christian" and their value system includes
committments to community organizing, activism, and my favorite
"Disavowal of the Pursuit of "Middleclassness."" God does take a side, and it’s
always with the oppressed. The work of the church is liberation.

Though not necesssarily a Christian I think of myself as a person of
faith. I think it’s time to be more "Unappoligetically faithful" I have
deep moral values too, and mine are far more profound than those of
George Bush. The religous right and conservative republicans are the ones that
lack moral values. As my dad says, "they believe anthing that helps them
get more money is good and anything that cuts their profit margins is
evil" And they believe this at the expense of lives all accross our
country and the world.

We need more folk like Obama in Washington for lots of reasons, but one
is that he represents a radically different type of faith than that of the
Bush administration. I hope he can continue to articulate that faith.

Every day my religion challenges me to continue to struggle against
injustice and oppression and to help people realize the power to make
changes in their lives. Every day my faith helps me keep on fighting
(and putting in the long hours.) I think the left is going to need a lot of
faith in the next four years.

I also hope that those of us who are progressive and radical people of
faith can start the work of reclaiming the language of religion and
values from the right wing. I hope someday we can look to an exit poll that
says that people voted their moral values and we will understand that to mean
a commitment to fairness, human rights, economic justice, etc not pro-life
and anti-gay. That someday family values will mean that we take care of
our country’s children and have the same respect for single parents and
queer parents. And that tradition will mean a real commitment to
democracy and freedom, not an administration that gets elected by voter
disenfranchisment and surpression.

In faith and love,
Ella

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