Rev. Jackson, Please Don’t Pray for Me

I have just returned from the Chicago Tax March. The main message was that President Trump should release his tax returns. We had some great speakers: Rep. Jan Schakowsky, State Sen. Daniel Biss, and Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. Rev. Jackson’s talk included lots of familiar chants: “Congress, do your job.” “I am Somebody.” “I matter.”

Then someone decided that Rev. Jackson should offer a prayer. And he brought us right back to the bad old days—the time when Christians assumed that their prayers should begin many secular events, such as local bar association meetings downstate.

According to Rev. Jackson, our demonstration wasn’t just love in action and an expression of the unity of humankind. After all, it was the day before Easter. He prayed in Jesus’s name.He prayed in the name of “the Father, the Son, and the precious Holy Ghost.” Not only were Jesus and the Holy
Trinity invoked multiple times, but our actions were “washed in the blood.”

Not Every Compassionate Activist Is Christian

Rev. Jackson, as a long-time supporter of gay rights and marriage equality, I expect you know better than to assume that everyone around you is heterosexual. Why, then, would you assume that everyone at a progressive rally is Christian?

Perhaps you were not aware that at least one of the other speakers is Jewish. And many members of the audience are, too, including me.There also were Muslims in attendance. I’m pretty sure that there were adherents of other faiths, too—Buddhists, Hindus, and less “mainstream” faiths that predate Christianity. And let’s not forget the atheists and agnostics.

Jews and Muslims and Buddhists Are Somebody, Too

We count. We matter. And we feel excluded, even erased, when someone prays on our behalf using terms we would never use ourselves. Washed in the blood? I can’t believe in a God who demands blood sacrifice any more than I can believe in a God who would send me to hell because I don’t think the right things about him.

Rev. Jackson, on matters of social justice, you still speak for me. But on matters of faith, it’s hard to see much difference between you and Lindsay Graham or Jeff Sessions.

 

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