Sunday, July 3, 2011

Let Freedom Ring

I was at Duke Divinity School on a training for UM Bishops and was having a conversation with Bishop Elaine Stanovsky, who told me this wonderful true story of empowerment that came from the heart of the United Methodist family. Long ago a man by the name of Wesley “Branch” Rickey was the first baseball owner who broke the “color line” and enlisted Jackie Robinson as the first African American player in the major leagues (April 1947). Both Rickey and Robinson were Methodists: Rickey from a devout Methodist family from Stockdale, Ohio and Robinson attended a Methodist Church in Pasadena, CA as a young adult. Later Jackie Robinson teamed up with Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier to help to fund the African American Student Foundation which supported college educations for promising young African people. One of those young people was Barack Obama, Sr., who later became the father of the 44th president of the United States.

The legacy of social justice and freedom for all people is a part of the United Methodist story and on this weekend of celebrating Independence Day in our nation we need to pause to think personally about our legacy of freedom. Who are we empowering to be free, to be all they can be, who can be lifted up to become a future leader in this world? You may never know what your influence will do far down into the future but one thing is certain that God will multiply your good works and use them to bless many people.

1 comment:

  1. You mention social justice and freedom for all people as a part of the United Methodist story. Oh, how I would like to have a dialogue with you on these two important topics. According to the UMC’s Book of Discipline, “it is a governmental responsibility to provide all citizens with health care” (Paragraph 162V). This sounds like social justice to me. But, who pays for this government perk? This is where the term gets gray, for in a true social justice society people lose their freedom. I believe that government has no place in health care. I’ve been a disabled veteran for over 40 years and know firsthand what kind of health care the government provides. I have the freedom to choose a private doctor – a freedom I use.

    You began your post with the story of Rickey and Robinson, mentioning that Robinson was an African-American (No mention of Rickey’s race). They begin a scholarship program for promising young African people. Where is the social justice? Why not a program for promising, young people (no ethnicity required)?

    Social justice has a difficult time co-existing with freedom. Our Declaration of Independence states that “all me are created equal.” It does not say all men must turn out equal. We have the freedom in America to become whatever we desire. If we choose, like Barack Obama, Sr., to abandon our child, have multiple wives, and end our life as an alcoholic, it is our choice. I prefer not to be equal with him.