Political Theology Today A Forum for inter-disciplinary and inter-religious dialogue among clergy, scholars, students, and activists

Saving Jesus, One “Merry Christmas” at a Time

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Last week, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a “Merry Christmas Bill”  which closed some gaps in Texas public school education: Protecting religious greetings, including the phrase “Merry Christmas;” allowing religious displays, including nativity scenes; and providing for education regarding “winter celebrations,” including Christian ones.

Jesus: Saved again. (/sarcasm)

I humbly suggest these three bills Jesus might rather introduce for Gov. Perry to sign:

  • A Child Poverty Ending Initiative:  The number of Texas children living in poverty has nearly quadrupled since 2007.

  • A Wasted Food Recovery Act: According to the North Texas Food bank, 40% of U.S. food production is wasted, and 65% of that food waste is incinerated or ends up in landfills.

  • ANY Gun Control Bill:  Instead, Gov. Perry is cashing in on other states’ stricter gun laws by  courting gun manufacturers to move to Texas.

After the Sandy Hook school massacre, Gov. Perry said that he believes that prayer is stronger than gun control laws.

Jesus believed in prayer, too, Gov. Perry.  Jesus taught us to pray (see: Matthew 6:7-12), and then he went out and fed people, healed people, and offered them life abundant (see: Gospel stories, all).

There are many places in Texas where Christmas carols are sung freely, where Jesus greetings are offered boldly and where Christian symbols are all over the place. We call that church. Texas has an abundance of Christian churches, as well as mosques, synagogues, Wiccan sacred spaces, and wherever else people of faith (and no faith) can educate their offspring about winter festivals.

Governor Perry, you can count on us pastors and our churches to serve the spiritual needs of children and their families.  We are dedicated to faith-shaping and qualified to offer Christian education. When people come to our doors hungry, we even have a little food to give them. When they are in need of prayer, we have that to offer, too.

As you surely must know from your own church experience, Jesus is alive and well and not in need of government protection.  The Christian faith will survive without the school Christmas pageant, faith-bombing valedictorians, and cheerleaders waving Bible verses at football games.  We will keep on offering “manna bags” (picture above).  We will keep on being a place of prayer and praise.

The social safety net, on the other hand, could use some of your attention.  You have money to allocate and bills to sign.  Let us support you to do the important work of allocating tax dollars for the public welfare. You have the power — and the pen — to save people lives, one life-giving piece of legislation at a time.

And please pass the word to school-voucher-wielding Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and the rest of your governor colleagues.

Bless your heart!

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The Rev. Sharon M. Temple is a native Texan currently serving as Interim Pastor of a United Church of Christ congregation in New Orleans.

Sharon Temple

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