Marcia Meoli: Take responsibility for your own opinion. Don't put it on Jesus.

I read of how conservative Christian groups are targeting local libraries and demanding the removal of an expanding list of books from them. In Louisiana, conservatives took over a library board and then rejected a proposal to fund a program on voting rights, events involving LGBTQ issues, and even something about Cajuns, an ethnic group prominent in that state.

Here in West Michigan, with the Jamestown Township library, a small group of people started protesting outside of the library’s doors and during board meetings regarding books that cover LGBTQ issues. The recent millage for the library failed, thereby placing the existence of the library in question. The library board was forthcoming in stating that, out of a total of 67,000 items, they have only 90 pieces of material that could relate to LGBTQ. One person who voted against the millage said it was the LGBTQ content that bothered him and it did not matter if the library segregated those books into an “adult” section. Since November, these people have pushed their demands such that the library director quit after experiencing what he said was hate speech.

All in the name of Christianity.

Marcia Meoli
Marcia Meoli

What makes a Christian? Am I, a person who votes Democratic, excluded from that definition? I know that a good number of people around here think that. I heard it explicitly stated. I see the way some people treat those who vote or think differently on these issues.

As Catholic child, I was told that I should not even go into a Protestant Church. I was taught that my ticket to salvation was to confess my sins to a priest and say some prayers afterward. When I moved to West Michigan, I saw an entry in a CRC Psalter Hymnal stating that the Catholic Mass is an “abomination.” I attended a large evangelical church in Holland and was told that Catholics have it all wrong because they believe in a “works” form of salvation, meaning that one needs to act to “earn” their salvation. This is wrong because Jesus paid the price for our sins and that our salvation is through his grace, his sacrifice at the cross. (So, the Catholics, who held down Christianity until the 16th century, had it all wrong?)

All of my life, I have always believed that Jesus was and is God. Even as a young adult, when questions abounded, I never thought otherwise. At each step of my journey to try to understand God and my role in loving God, I have focused on Jesus as best as I can. As a Catholic, I was struck by Jesus’ care for the least of us — the widow’s mite, the prodigal son, the woman at the well, countless others for whom Jesus defended and showed grace. Moving to the evangelical influence, I understood the personal relationship with Jesus and how he loves me no matter what I am or do and how he is present at all times, not just during the high or low times. As I honor my late husband, I see a man who knew about that throughout his life. He embodied the essence of a life devoted to Jesus, always leaving everything better than how he found it (including me) and bearing the fruits of his relationship with God without forcing it on others or making them feel less than, just by being in his presence.

At the evangelical church, I saw a lot of politics, focused mainly on abortion, sexual issues, all the hot topics that dominate our political culture today. Many of the sources for these discussions came from the Old Testament or a letter from Paul or another human writer of the various letters in the New Testament. I am no Bible scholar, and I am not going to challenge the work of someone who spends hours studying these things. But, it seems to me that the words and acts of Jesus, while he was on earth, are at least worthy of our attention.

Jesus did not talk about LGBTQ or similar issue. He did not talk about abortion. He did talk about greed and hypocrisy, however, and a number of other issues. Mark 11:15-19, Matthew 6:5, Matthew 23, Matthew 25: 31-46, Mark 7 and Luke 12. I think that we all need to step back, take responsibility for what is our opinion about political issues, and not claim that we know what Jesus would do or say about them. Matthew 7:1 and Matthew 22:21.

— Community Columnist Marcia Meoli is a Holland attorney and resident. Contact her at Meolimarcia@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Marcia Meoli: Take responsibility for your own opinion. Don't put it on Jesus.