Pastoral Letter on the Golden Rule and Fundamentalism, January 16, 2021

Dear Church Family,
All religions I know of have some form of the Golden Rule at their core, meaning a love of neighbor as an extension of our own self, and the concept of neighbor includes strangers, enemies and the creatures of the earth.  Religions also have a preferential care for the vulnerable, hurting and oppressed.
Non-religious secular wisdom and most philosophies share these principles as well.  They represent a code of basic human decency and nonviolence that is essential to the sustainable working of society.
One of the truly amazing gifts of the 20th Century was the formulation of this global ethic in two widely endorsed documents, the secular Earth Charter and the Global Ethic of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.
The problem is that fundamentalists of all religions and secular fundamentalists (people with a fundamentalist approach to their kind or nation or self-interest) extend this ethic only within the narrowly drawn borders of those they approve of, those who are on the inside with them.  They feel free to exploit, abuse and destroy what they consider outside, and in fact often consider it their virtuous duty to do so.  (Frederick Douglass observed that slave owners became crueler when they converted to Christian fundamentalism.)
Right now we are seeing Christian and secular fundamentalism rise with fanatical passion to do tremendous damage to our democracy, to the earth and to racial, social, economic and environmental justice in the final days of a federal government that supports them.
This is a time of outrage and deep grief for those who apply the ethic of Golden Rule oneness, love and compassion to all people and all the earth.
It is also a time to take bold stands on behalf of all that is threatened or being damaged.  We need to advocate for our vision, for a level of consciousness that sees universal oneness and the primacy of the law of neighborly love, and for the practical policies and actions that naturally flow from that way of seeing and understanding.
Thank you for all you are doing in Strafford to promote the love of neighbor and to work against the violent divisiveness and polarization that we see rising around us.  Thank you especially for extending neighborly love to those who differ from you.  Thank you for all you are doing beyond Strafford, as well.
One other crucial message we need to hear from common religious and secular wisdom is this: love is the most powerful force in the universe.  Love will win.  We can hope and trust in that.  We can celebrate and take great joy in it.  So grieve, but keep loving and keep celebrating every small or large act of love you see, and share the light of that joy–we all need it right now!
Thank you,
Pastor Tom Kinder

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