Guest Post: God Save the Legislature
In which staffer and advocate KG begins her 16th session at the Lege by lamenting the gap between Christian rhetoric and public policy, and praying things will get better this time.
(Welcome to a special guest author installment of Life Its Ownself. My friend KG is a Texas native, pastor’s daughter, and a woman of serious and inspiring faith. She has been working around the Legislature as a staffer and advocate for 30 years,. She accepted my offer to share her thoughts at the inception of the session. Her essay has been very lightly edited because, as a former high school English teacher, I simply cannot leave well enough alone.
Please show KG some love by hitting the Like button at the bottom and leaving a comment. If you’re interested in writing a guest post, let me know. And as always, feel free to share this Substack with others.
Tuesday, January 16, 2023
Jesus was at the Texas Capitol last week. I unfortunately missed Him, despite also being at the Capitol on the same day. I think I was too busy trying to find legislators following the really pesky biennial moving of Capitol offices done just prior to the start of session.
Since I’m fairly sure that the Second Coming of Christ will be announced via social media, it wasn’t odd that I found out about this particular visit online. Several videos posted that day showed a bunch of people at the Capitol proclaiming that “Jesus is in this place.” They were also praying hard for the Legislature and the session, hoping that Jesus would intercede on issues of importance to them. I never caught His response.
Jesus and/or God at the Texas Capitol is nothing new. Both houses open their daily sessions with a (usually Christian) prayer. (Kudos to those few legislators that have persuaded a rabbi or imam to open the session). “In God We Trust” is prominently displayed above the Senate and House daises. There is even a monument of the Ten Commandments on the Capitol grounds.
As someone who has worked in and around the Capitol for decades, I too have prayed at times that the good Lord would intervene upon the Legislature; for example, “God, when is this hearing ever going to end?” or “Sweet Jesus, are these people serious?” One could argue that given the gravity of many issues considered during the session, a little divine intervention could only help. But I have found even with earnest prayer, bad legislation still passes into law often targeting what Christ called “the least of these.”
Whether it is transgender kids, people facing hunger, disenfranchised voters, folks in poverty, immigrants and asylum seekers, people of color, or any other group not in majority power, frequently they suffer under the laws and policies passed by the Legislature. Many of the interest groups pushing these laws consider themselves Christians.
I also identify as a Christian. I was raised and steeped in the church, the daughter of a pastor. I grew up going to Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, youth group, and church camp. Many, many summers were spent with my grandmother attending revivals under tents, the air thick with East Texas red dirt, humidity, and the washed blood of Jesus. I knew the books of the Bible long before I could list the names of state capitals.
Repeatedly in the Bible, Christ guides us to love everyone, fight for those on the margins of society, feed the hungry, welcome the refugee, and help the poor. To me, that means giving a voice to the most vulnerable and insisting there is space in the “room where it happens” for those who do not look like me, identify like me, or believe like me. It was this very conviction that drove me to advocacy as a profession.
Sadly, those teachings of Christ are conveniently overlooked for some descending on the Capitol this session. They will instead make a frenzied fight against an imagined threat—that society inch-by-inch is dismantling their way of life. Anything they deem antithetical to their “Biblical,” cisgender, usually white, often male point of view needs to be prayed and legislated away. Many hours of the session will be dedicated to this fight, all the while we are not addressing the weightier issues of Texas. And our truly marginalized, the “least of these,” will not be any better off in the end.
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As the daughter of a preacher myself, I truly appreciate this post. Kudos to her for holding onto the for kindness and compassion learned in her youth . May she never depart from the positive teachings nor adopt or accept the current climate of hatred that has crept into the church.
Did the Evangelicals intentionally acquire such inconceivable power in order to egotistically enact political measures for legal and moral public discrimination against their self described enemies of country and religion and then have the unmitigated gall to vainly pray about their conquest?