Moore believes that part of the exhaustion people are experiencing comes from the political identities he was warning against. He observed there is “exuberance when one side is winning and despair when one side is losing,” implying that these emotions indicate that people have put their hope too much in politics, instead of in the kingdom of God. “That is no way that we can go forward as a country,” said Moore.
Moore also believes we must resist the temptation to depend on the hope that everything will be better once 2020 is over. That simply will not be the case. “We are going to remain a divided country,” he said. “We are going to have significant and important disagreements among ourselves.”
Faith and Politics: Let’s Work Together Where We Can
The panelists themselves represented stark differences of belief on certain areas of life. But they all nevertheless agreed that if there is to be healing among the American people, especially regarding faith and politics, it can only happen when we are willing to encourage and work with one another where we can agree—even if we are adamantly opposed on other issues.
“We need a renewed appreciation for the public square,” said Millies, “and we need a renewed appreciation of a place where we all have to come together and listen to one another and compromise.” While we might not agree with others on abortion or marriage equality, he said, we could still work together on climate change and police reform. Religious communities can take the lead by dialoguing with one another publicly. “The religious voice is strongest when believers of all stripes say what we can affirm in unison,” he said.
Moore also supported this perspective, emphasizing again that we must prioritize the kingdom of God over our political alliances. He noted that the politicization of information that has occurred is not “unique to religious communities,” but is rather part of how any person finds an “ultimate identity” in politics.
Moore: We Can Work Issue by Issue
“We ought to have a posture of not having any permanent alliances or any permanent warfares,” said Moore, “but to be able to speak to one another, speak honestly about our disagreements and then work where we can, sometimes issue by issue.” We can love our neighbors by looking for common ground with them, even if we would typically see them as “our political enemies.” If we have the former mindset instead of the latter, we can accomplish a lot of good work.
For example, while Moore would oppose President Obama when it comes to abortion, he believes they could work together on refugee issues. Conversely, Moore would oppose President Trump on refugee issues or children at the border, but could work with him to fight for the religious rights of the Uyghurs. This ought to be the “posture that we can take,” rather than being devoted to one person or group. “One person is not our messiah,” he said.
Ali said she thought there was a lot of “truth and intelligence” in these points. “We’re going to be painting ourselves up against a wall if we are not willing to work on a variety of different issues together when we don’t always agree on the same things,” she said. Ali did add, however, that sometimes there is a “cumulative effect” of someone’s leadership that can make people not want to work with him or her any more. In her view, this was the case with President Trump’s administration, where “so much was not good at all.” Ali has more hope for working with Biden “issue by issue” as Moore described.
Williams-Skinner agreed with the other panelists that people of faith have a responsibility to their beliefs and values over their political alliances. “Truth being assaulted hurts…everything we’re trying to advance,” she said. The more that we follow the teachings of Jesus regarding the inherent worth of every person, the more we will be able to work with Christians of other denominations and even people of other religious faiths. “I think the challenge for us is to get past the silos and demonizing people because they don’t believe what we believe…Our faith is what will save America from itself.”