I was too young to be involved in that movement, but I felt I could play a small part in the continuing battle for justice by helping rebuild some of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. They cheered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial when Dr. We can affirm our faith without endangering the separation of church and state, as long as we understand that when we’re in the public square, we have to speak in universal terms that everyone can understand. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur.
I thought of the families I’ve met who were struggling to get by without a loved one’s full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were Reservists. We cannot ignore that we have a right and a duty to protect our borders. And I’ve seen it in this campaign. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons.
I didn’t fall out in church, as folks sometimes do. Religious leaders like my friends Rev. Jim Wallis and Rabbi David Saperstein and Nathan Diament are working for justice and fighting for change. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension.
Our Party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. Now let me be clear. And all across the country, communities of faith are sponsoring day care programs, building senior centers, and in so many other ways, taking part in the project of American renewal. From Willow Creek to the ’emerging church,’ from the Southern Baptist Convention to the National Association of Evangelicals, folks are realizing that the four walls of the church are too small for a big God.God is still speaking. Change means a tax code that doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful.
Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or do we participate in a politics of hope? The President vetoed a similar plan, but he doesn’t have the last word, and we’re going to keep at it, until we bring this war to an end. God is still speaking. But it also comes from my own American story. On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America, while encouraging more Americans to study in Muslim communities.
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And it’s a lesson we need to remember today – as members of another Joshua generation. It’s time for us to change America. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress.
And as I listened to him explain why he’d enlisted, the absolute faith he had in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service, I thought this young man was all that any of us might hope for in a child. So it’s 1985, and I’m in Chicago, and I’m working with these churches, and with lots of laypeople who are much older than I am. And if we can do that – if we can embrace a common destiny – then I believe we’ll not just help bring about a more hopeful day in America, we’ll not just be caring for our own souls, we’ll be doing God’s work here on Earth.
I’m not talking about blind optimism here – the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t think about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. I was too young to be involved in that movement, but I felt I could play a small part in the continuing battle for justice by helping rebuild some of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. But that is not yet the case. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists.
But at the end of the day, we cannot walk away – not for the sake of passing a bill, but so that we can finally address the real concerns of Americans and the persistent hopes of all those brothers and sisters who want nothing more than their own chance at our common dream. I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century, and in too many Muslim communities there remains underinvestment in these areas.
If there is a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer.
Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you.