Wednesday, January 18, 2023

A Declaration

Today the Governor that Marylanders elected in November will be sworn in and take office in Annapolis. After eight years of having a Republican in the Governor’s mansion, Maryland will now experience a shift in leadership style, goals, and themes. I’ve been thinking a lot about what that will be like.

Governor-elect Wes Moore began the week at an event called An Evening of Faith and Community held at Kingdom Fellowship AME Church in Calverton. This photo, shared on Twitter, is very likely from that event.

Image from Twitter account of Wes Moore

Accompanying the photo were these words.

Maryland, our promise to you is this:

We will lead with love.

We will lead with compassion.

We will lead with partnership. 

And we will lead with faith.

What followed were mostly positive responses. But as I read I began to see a number of tweets like this:

3 out of 4, please remember you are governing everyone in Maryland

Remember you have atheist constituents.

As long as that faith is in humanity

How do you think this makes the 1/3 of Marylanders who aren’t Christian feel?

All that other stuff is cool, Please keep Faith out of Maryland politics.

Christian? I thought. I clicked on the photograph and looked at the complete image. Oh. That’s clearly a cross. 


It makes sense to me that Moore sees an event like this as a part of who he is and what led him to a life of public service. It also makes sense to me that some of his constituents don’t see an illuminated cross or declarations of faith as reassuring. In recent years Christianity has been scooped up and weaponized against Jews, women, those in the LGBTQ+ community, and more. 

Moore should not have to hide his faith background as he takes office. But he clearly struck a nerve in some when he put it at the forefront by including it in a message about leadership. As hard as it may be for some Christians to understand, the sight of a cross can be a malevolent symbol to those who have been harmed by people who claimed faith as their excuse.

I suppose that someone could read this post and accuse me of being ashamed of my faith. I’m not. But I am mightily ashamed by hateful acts performed in the name of faith. There’s a difference.

Another element that may also be at work here is the issue of race. It seems to me that white politicians expressing themes of faith are often lauded or at least given a free pass. But for many white Americans, Black faith and Black churches feel unfamiliar and strange. If it doesn’t feel like “their kind of church” then there must be something wrong with it. It must not be sincere. Perhaps it’s a con. Or a front for dangerous political activity.

All those Black people together in one place? That might be dangerous. 

I haven’t seen people say these things in so many words in Columbia/HoCo but some have come dangerously close. And that troubles me. It’s a double standard that has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with systemic racism.

So now we will need to watch and wait to see how Moore intends to lead. His actions will tell us what he meant by this declaration and how he means to act on it. 

Truth in advertising: the part of his statement that appealed to me the most was the reference to partnership, something that has sadly been missing during the last eight years. I’m all for it. 

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