Query 9: Civic responsibility (Response for 9th month, 2012)

Queries

  1. What conflicts do we perceive between the laws of the State and our religious convictions?
  2.  How do we resolve those conflicts in our lives?
  3.  In what ways do we assume responsibility for the government of our community, state, nation, and world?
  4. How do we share our convictions with others?
  5. Do we express our opinions with courage, yet with love, mindful of the Divine Spirit within everyone?
  6. How do we maintain our integrity when we find ourselves ina position of power?
  7. How do we repsnd when we feel powerless?
  8. Do we really respect and help those we seek to serve?
  9. Are we careful to reach our decisions through prayer and strengthen our actions with worship?
  10. Are we open to divine leadings?

Synthesis of discussion about all civic responsibility queries

A major thrust of the ministry that George Fox brought to early Friends is to be watchful of empty forms that exist in our religious practice.  It is one thing to see the Truth of God’s will so clearly in the midst of political controversy and then witness to or speak that Truth to power.  It is another thing to fumble overly long in the search for Truth and mistake that fumbling as carrying out our civic responsibility.  Despite the muddying of waters by political rhetoric and bantering, or because of it; despite the posturing that we hear nearly constantly of how the U.S. is “the greatest and most powerful country, in the world,” there are times when we and the politics of our time are in need of the child among us who might speak plainly, announcing that the “emperor has no clothes.”

Many of us are aware of two political issues and concerns in Minnesota that are dominating the state this year: the proposed marriage amendment and the proposed Voter ID amendment.  We as a meeting haven’t been clear to take up an action as a corporate body, but we recognize that Friends among us have been very active on speaking out on the issues, and we sense movement among Friends in larger circles as well.

We also affirm recent Quaker decisions elsewhere in the state and neighboring Wisconsin to suspend carrying out the civil part of state-sanctioned marriage as a way of bearing witness to the expression of God’s love through all loving, committed couples that God has brought together in marriage.

There is a thread in Scripture that ties civil governance with Divine governance, and in our current political discourse are national leaders who regularly refer to their Christian faith.  Phrases like “the Prince of Peace” and “the Kingdom of God” encapsulate those ties.  There is a tension for Friends with how we are “in the world but not of it” and of the dynamics that exist between a living faith and the political times in which we live.  Civic responsibility does not require us to impose our religious beliefs or practices upon our neighbor, nor are Friends released from living according to our faith:  to love God, and to love our neighbor.

Over the years, we have hungered at different times to be actively engaged in the work of social justice, and there are local opportunities for us to explore.  Many of us are knocking and opening doors in various ways in our daily lives and through networks in which we already participate. Some of those doors lead into local arenas; others lead into state or even federal ones.  How we might knock and open such doors as a corporate body remains unclear to us.

 

 (Liz, recorder)