By Barbara Hudson, Dawn Capra, John Wilson and Mary Wilson
As Americans, we are guaranteed freedom of religion by the First Amendment to the Constitution. This means the United States government is not in the business of establishing a state religion nor is it in the business of establishing a religious test for persons running for elected office. The founders held religious freedom near and dear to their hearts. They left countries where a state religion was central to the government and where they were persecuted for practicing a different religion. They wished to be free to worship as they pleased.
Our Democratic values align with our Christian values. When we look at the instructions Jesus gave His disciples, He said love your neighbor as yourself, take care of those in need, visit the prisoners, feed the hungry, etc. In other words, Jesus asked us to continue the work He started in His name. We practice and live this truth today by focusing on sharing the love of God with all in word, act and deed.
What does it mean to love our neighbor? According to the story of the Good Samaritan, it means helping those in need. Our neighbor is not only someone who looks like us or who thinks like us, but simply someone in need. For us, that means people fleeing the violence of Central America or Syria are our neighbors, and it is our Christian calling to do what we can to help them.
Loving our neighbor means caring whether he or she is going bankrupt due to healthcare costs. It means caring whether every child attends a good school and learns and has a healthy lunch to eat. It means caring whether working people are paid a living wage or whether they are exploited while others get rich off their backs. It means caring whether our prison system is rooted in systemic racism. It means listening and being responsive to the suffering of those affected by sexual assault.
Democrats use the term “inclusion” to describe these concepts of loving our neighbor. In Texas, we have candidates who are running on platforms of inclusion. Beto O’Rourke says, “This moment of pettiness, meanness, partisanship and division will be met by the kindness, courage, strength, leadership and the big heart of Texas.”
Likewise, Joseph Kopser, who is running to replace Rep. Lamar Smith and is a graduate of West Point, 20-year combat veteran, Bronze Star recipient and technology entrepreneur, has this message for Republicans: “We have more in common than that which separates us.” Erin Zwiener is an educator, author and conservationist running to represent us in the Texas House. Like us, she lives her Christian and Democratic values by defending the rights of all Texans.
Paul tells us in Galatians 6:13 that we live by the Spirit: “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” As Christians and Democrats, we seek to embody these characteristics. Beto O’Rourke has refused to run negative ads. In response to negative attack ads launched by his opponent, he is running an ad stating, “Texans in all 254 counties are proving that together, we will be the…confident answer to the small, petty, negative ads coming our way.” For any candidate, speaking up for inclusion takes courage in this age of political bullying. Words are used as weapons. Words are used to scare and intimidate. Words are used to create a caricature of a candidate based on falsehoods.
There are issues confronting our state and nation that are not partisan issues: funding for public schools, addressing local water needs, protecting clean air and water, creating good jobs that pay a living wage, building workforce housing, bringing doctors and hospitals in our rural county, just to name a few. Democratic candidates, such as Congressman O’Rourke, and his message of inclusion and loving our neighbor give us hope that together we can make a difference and build a stronger Texas for all of us.
We are fortunate to live in a democracy. Each of us has one vote. Voting is the equalizer among us, our friends and neighbors and others in our great nation. It is our responsibility to study candidates and support and vote for those who do their best for the most.
Join us in supporting Democratic candidates. Early voting begins on Monday, Oct. 22. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.