‘Faith without works is dead,’ pro-choice, pro-trans pastor says
By Rev. Devon Thomas
I am a small-town minister with a family of four serving three churches. There is a lot going on in my life but this year I chose to throw my hat in the race for my local State Representative position.
I did this because I feel our nation’s democracy is in need of a new generation of participation, and if we wish to see America stand as our world’s best example of democracy in action, we need to recognize that democracy thrives on the work we put into it. Running for office may not be a calling for each and every one of us, but as we approach these midterm elections, I would urge all of my Vermont neighbors to register and get out to vote.
Despite its difficulties and divisions, I take pride in being a citizen of this country. We are part of a 246-year-old experiment to build a nation that operates under the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all people. I feel that recently these promises of freedom have become increasingly out of reach for everyday folks. I have struggled as a minister to help folks in the communities I serve to deal with issues ranging from housing affordability to auto repairs and even buying groceries. It is hard to ask people to take the time to vote when they are struggling to find a place to sleep, or to get formula to feed their baby. It is understandable that voting may not be the first thing we think about when we start our days, but in these hard times I think voting is one of the few things we have left to make things better.
James, the brother of Jesus, had something to say about this sort of thing. “If you tell a neighbor ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ yet you do not supply for that person’s bodily needs, what is the good of that? Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (2:16).
I apply this to our faith in the American dream. We are living in a time when we often tell our neighbors to go out and live the Dream, but what are we doing to help them do that? What are we doing to give our neighbors food and sustenance in a time when everyday folks are struggling to buy and afford a home where they live, or are working several jobs just to live paycheck to paycheck? Are we going to tell a single mother that she is not working hard enough when she struggles to raise her child and get an education? Is that struggle a lack of effort and hard work on her part, or rather our inability as a community to contribute to the American dream?
Many of us have faith in this country but fail to take time to help our neighbors with their struggles by not allowing workers to have fair representation, or taking away a woman’s reproductive rights; by telling parents they can’t give their children gender affirming care, or telling teachers they cannot teach fair and factual history.
We are seeing a growing movement in our country of people who have faith in our nation but have forgotten that the promise of America cannot live by faith alone. We need to be willing to put some work into it. This faith-alone outlook is starving our nation of justice, and for this reason I am asking folks to vote in these coming midterm elections to make a difference.
We live in a nation where our voices still live in our vote. Getting out to vote may be difficult but the direction our country goes from here will represent those who are willing to work the most for it. I personally chose to run for office in my community because I believe faith without works is dead, and this is what I can do to contribute to a nation that works for us all.
Rev. Devon Thomas is running as a Democrat for State Representative in Franklin-1 Georgia and Fairfax. He and fellow Democrat Alan Maynard will face Republicans Ashley Bartley and Carolyn Whitney Branagan in a two-seat race in which none of the candidates are incumbents. He is also a minister serving the United Church of Bakersfield and Fairfield, The Second Congregational Church in Hyde Park and the Second Congregational Church in Jeffersonville.