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In Theory: A campaign to include and not exclude

February 08, 2014

"We should be known not by what we oppose, but rather by what we propose," said Rev. Samuel Rodriguez on the launch of his project called the Imago Dei.

The campaign calls on evangelicals to recognize and affirm that undocumented immigrants, gays, liberals and atheists are made in God's image. Its motto is, "I recognize that every human being, in and out of the womb, carries the image of God; without exception. Therefore, I will treat everyone with love and respect."

Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, says the goal of the campaign is to "change the narrative of evangelical engagement in the public square, especially when it comes to traditional culture war issues," according to an article in Time magazine. Rodriguez has picked up some big names in support, including Jim Daly, president of Focus On The Family, televangelist James Robison and vice president of Liberty University Mat Staver.

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However, those who've organized and who support the scheme say they won't change their stance on gay marriage or condone homosexual behavior.

Q: What do you think of this campaign? Can it make a difference?

Not sure if it'll make a difference, but it's about time! For too long a time, in my opinion, evangelicals have been more concerned about saving souls for heaven than with loving the unlovely. And look at Jesus, whom all Christians claim to follow. He made it a point to welcome those on the fringes of society, especially the unlovely like the lepers and the prostitutes.

This past Sunday I preached on Matthew 5: 1-12, part of what's called the Beatitudes. (The word comes from the Latin "beatus", or blessing.) In the Beatitudes Jesus really turns conventional wisdom on its ear; actually, I think Jesus did that his whole life. Anyway, the very first Beatitude is, "Blessed are the poor." (I know: you've always heard, poor in spirit, but the phrase "in spirit" may be a later addition.) Really? The poor are blessed? Jesus is really upsetting the apple cart with that one. But that's what Jesus did: welcomed those whom nobody else wanted, and in his day it was the lepers and prostitutes. In our day it's the gays, the transgendered, the poor, the homeless, the sick.

Do evangelicals really think it's their job to save souls rather than befriend the ugly, the hurting and all the other marginalized folk in our society? It's high time the evangelicals started thinking about this life, not only the one to come.

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