Letter: Where are the involved local churches?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Have you noticed the number of thoughtful people addressing these troubled times in inspirational, prophetic and mature spirituality? Those struggling to point toward a more compassionate, truthful and peaceful way of life?

I thought about this when attending a local August Veterans for Peace get-together designed to generate conversations about world conditions. Only eight participants showed up. Even the Only One Earth local coalition group that I previously praised in Mountain Xpress did not participate. Democracy and religion are not spectator sports, but why are there so few active supporters for a better way of life in our Disunited States? And where are the involved local churches?

In December 2017, Mountain Xpress published “The Changing Faces of Faith,” pointing out that religious devotion is not at the top of the list. Another article by John Boyle in our local newspaper in October 2021 stated that there are over 700 mainline Protestant and Catholic churches in Buncombe. Recently my smartphone told me there are more than 300 Christian churches, plus faith-based conference centers and religiously affiliated schools, in the Asheville area.

It seems that people, including some activists, do not see religion as a vitally needed social process with a crucial potential to create a more peaceful and just world — not perfect, but more equal and caring for each other. What would it be like if each church would have small group meetings regularly addressing social issues that determine our way of life? Issues like economic security, health care, the environment, and war and peace.

Political decision-makers and military leaders know that war demands discipline, determination and dedication. The war mentality demands daily, weekly and yearly practice of a life devoted to power, dominance and control of our way of life. Everything goes, including secrecy and lying.

What would happen if those who adhere to Christian values of peace on Earth and good will would devote that same discipline, practice, determination and dedication as nonviolent “warriors for peace and justice?”

I know personally that there are many dedicated and active local Christians who are invisible microheroes as they volunteer to help the homeless and people in need. They deserve respect and are models of kindness and generosity that bring people together. But churches are mostly silent or invisible in resisting our destructive way of life.

And there are many religious people lecturing and publishing. For example, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Franciscan Richard Rohr, Protestant Brian McLaren, Buddhist Ken Wilber and local Baptist peacemaker Ken Sehested are speaking out on social issues and spiritual values. Check them out — there are too many others to name here.

I suggest small groups gather at churches focusing on social issues. My main focus has been on our military-industrial complex, which President Eisenhower warned us about years ago. Environmental and health issues are also affected by our war-making and manufacturing of weapons of destruction. This and other issues can be addressed in small church groups. Then groups can come together to create a unified peace and justice community of love and caring. Parishes can hold public conversations to determine the actual public steps that can be taken locally.

Imagine if the primary teaching of religion was union, not individual perfection. That would change the whole world.

I’m hopeful because of the inspiration and the resilience of local people and global peacemakers. They model the always-needed longing and compassion for truth, goodness and beauty, affirming what is good in our country and in our religions. They call us to a higher level of democratic participation expressed in spiritual and religious values.

Contact me for resources or to challenge me, but please do your homework first: esacco189@gmail.com.

— Ed Sacco


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4 thoughts on “Letter: Where are the involved local churches?

  1. Grant Millin

    If Ed is trying to recruit local Christians, this statement says he didn’t do his homework:

    “Imagine if the primary teaching of religion was union, not individual perfection. That would change the whole world.”

  2. Marc

    Short story is , city council along with most of the justice system in Buncombe have denied GODS people their protection and freedom to speak! Supporting antifa , releasing criminals with repeat charges. Support for corruption in their own way has become the norm . Reap what you saw, people! Start at the root if you truly want change ! Vote the evil out!

  3. indy499

    Ed, nobody shows up because you and your tiny band are beyond irrelevant. You can go to the front lines with your signs as our enemies get stronger.

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