A common saying of mine is when religion is inclusive it is at its finest; when religion is exclusive it is at its absolute worst. It matters not the degree of self-proclaimed piety, if we practice exclusion we are sealing the fate of our own demise.
A great example of the power of religion is the work of Pope Francis. The Catholic Church was in trouble with the pedophile priest scandals and too much of an inward focus. With Pope Francis focusing on outreach to those in need coupled with a humility long needed, he has touched many within and outside of the church.
He has broken down barriers. He has led by example, washing the feet of a Syrian migrant and condemning those who want build walls to isolate people. When asked about homosexuality, he has said who am I to judge?
Yet, with heightened fears of terrorism, xenophobia, bigotry and racism have surfaced in an ugly way. While many do not condone this evil triumvirate, what may have been an undercurrent is now more visible in public, campaigns and even governance. We should be vigilant and shine spotlights on these unhealthy behaviors. We certainly should not be voting for people who advocate exclusion or condone bigotry.
These actions do not make us safer. Nor do they make us better people. They prey upon our fears and insecurities. So, let’s not erect barriers and then throw stones at those on the other side. Let’s emulate the Pope and break down barriers.