Happy Monday, Friends! Today we continue drawing inspiration from the Song of Zachariah: “…as God spoke through the mouth of their holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us” (Luke 1:70-71). Zachariah continues his prayer of hope and joy having come through a time of adversity and now seeing the birth of his son, John, who history and the Bible will call the Baptist.
I read a lot as the executive director of LOVEboldly…well, I tend to read a lot period. I make a point of staying abreast of what conservative, Christian Nationalist, and anti-LGBTQIA+ people are saying about our community and our allies, as well as what our own partner organizations and advocates are saying. Recently, Faithful America, a national progressive Christian organization combatting Christian nationalism, launched their “False Prophets Don’t Speak for Me” campaign featuring faith and political leaders who have been held up as “prophets” of Christian nationalism. That campaign as well as the continued use of Christian beliefs to bolster the positions of politicians ahead of the midterm elections has me thinking about prophets and how we name prophets in the 21st century.
A year ago next week, I sent you my first Monday Moment, briefly reflecting on my favorite Bible verse, “Would that all God’s people be prophets, and God had put God’s spirit upon them” (Numbers 11:29). While the sacred scriptures of almost every world religion attest to the danger of false prophets, most of those texts were written at times when only the greatest prophets had more than a local or regional reach. The same is no longer true. Now anyone, for good or for evil, with a smartphone can broadcast their message to the world. Yes, scrutiny of such messages is also now open to global audiences, but as internet personalities continue to prove, getting one’s message out to attentive audiences is often more important than the consequences of that message.
Radical, right-wing, conservative voices are by no means limited to Christianity, but Christian voices tend to get the most airtime in the United States. Media outlets—even the ones dedicated to lifting the voices of marginalized communities—post and replay the insidious and often factually inaccurate statements of Christian nationalists, conservative pastors, and politicians from many political ideologies. While the Bible makes it easy to find the “holy prophets” that Zachariah exhorts in Luke 1:70, the same cannot be said for discerning the prophets in our own age. I have been fortunate so far in my life to have met or to know Revd Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Revd Adrienne Thorne, Revd Dr. William Barber, II, Revd Jim Keat, Most Revd Michael Curry, and the Rt Revd Gene Robinson, prophets all and people who would never call themselves prophets. I’m also blessed to work with prophetic voices everyday here in Ohio.
Who do you call prophets? Why are they prophets?
Let us pray: God, help us find the prophets