January 18, 2006

Gumbleton’s work reflects liberal Christianity

The Michigan Daily

January 18, 2006

At a time when conservatism and Christianity seem to go hand in hand, Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton offers an alternative interpretation of Christianity that leads believers to promote justice and equality — not war and tax cuts for the wealthy. Last week, Gumbleton became the first Catholic bishop to reveal that he was sexually molested by a priest in his youth, and he is the highest ranking American church official supportive of efforts to allow victims more time to seek justice in court. His honesty and openness is important to holding the Catholic Church responsible for sexual abuse by some of its priests, which went unaddressed for decades. With this announcement, Gumbleton has continued his long career as a current-day example of a Christian leader devoting his life to promote social justice and progressive ideals.

It is difficult to understand why Christianity and conservatives have become such comfortable bedfellows. When legislators in Alabama tried to pass a tax increase in 2003 to increase education funding and alleviate the tax burden on the state’s poor, for example, it was conservative Christian groups that led the way in persuading state voters to reject the proposal. These groups cited their opposition to any tax increases, a stance that seems to have little to do with religion.

The teachings of Jesus, the backbone of the Christian faith, have much to do with reaching out to society’s outcasts. And in past times of social unrest, like the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, churches took a prominent role in joining across the country to bring an end to segregation. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. evoked the teachings of Christianity not to politicize the struggle for equality, but rather to reach out to those whose faith and morals led them to the same conclusion — that American society must embrace members of all races.

Posted by kshaw at January 18, 2006 07:34 AM