"Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington. We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor. There’s no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center."
Newt Gingrich, August 16, 2010, Fox News’ Fox & Friends.

Although I find the tsunami of distorted and inflammatory remarks by Gingrich and his tribe to be despicable toxic sludge in the ocean of world rhetoric, I can dismiss them knowing their ulterior motives.

When I read opinion polls of my brothers and sisters in America my soul sickness turns to mourning.

68 percent say that immigration policy should emphasize stricter enforcement rather than integrating illegal immigrants into U.S. society.

48 percent believe that the United States should end the practice of granting citizenship to U.S. born children of illegal immigrants.

70 percent of voters say the Muslim group has the right to build a mosque and cultural center near Ground Zero, but 63 percent say that it is wrong to do so.

This snapshot into our nations psyche comes from an August 31 – September 7, Quinnipiac University survey of 1,905 registered voters nationwide.

What ails me to the bone and marrow is that most of my fellow citizens thus polled would wear a Jesus cross proudly beneath their flag lapel pin. They boisterously call for our return to being a "Christian Nation."  . . .

I am the son of a fundamentalist Christian preacher. I was weaned on the Word of the Lord. I was also indoctrinated with multitudes of narrow viewpoints. Yet, I kept reading, praying and taking to heart the precepts of Jesus.

Even though I am a Universalist now I am more committed than ever to being a disciple of Jesus.

His teachings continually nurture and challenge my conscience.

"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

We live in the wealthiest most privileged nation on the planet. One would think that out of our abundance a spirit of generosity would erupt and roll like a ever flowing stream. On the contrary, if these polls have any validity it appears we have become a country of fearful, shriveled, stingy, mean people.

I’m not advocating we establish no boundaries or demonstrate no backbone. I am making an appeal that we nudge a bit closer to a couplet of Rabbi Jesus’ sayings which manifest true freedom.

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

"Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be given to you. For with the same measure you measure it will be measured back to you."

Chuck Freeman

Chuck Freeman

Rev. Chuck Freeman has served as Minister of Spiritual Life with Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church in Austin, Texas since 1996. He is the creator, producer and host of the radio program “Soul Talk” in its 14 year of broadcasting. The program currently airs on Progressive Blend Radio based in Washington, D.C. http://www.progressiveblendradio.com/.

Chuck is the Founder and President of The Free Souls Project, promoting the integration of spirituality, democracy and ethics from a liberal faith perspective.
You can hear Chuck’s podcasts at www.freesoulsproject.org or peruse his blog at http://freesoulsproject.ning.com/. He is also a regular author on The Seminal, http://www.theseminal.com/.

His Op Ed Pieces have been published in the Austin American Statesman and with Austin’s NPR affiliate, KUT.

Chuck is a lively, reflective, down to earth man who combines irreverence, compassion, and a playful humor in his life and work.