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Thursday, December 25, 2008

EDITORIAL: Does God Want America To Bail Out the Big Three?

SUV's in Church: props used to beseech God for a bailoutOf all the states that are struggling as a result of the U.S. economic crisis, we know that Michigan is being hit the hardest. Our state economy is so dependent upon the automotive industry that the collapse of any of the “Big Three” automakers could mean the difference between prosperity and poverty for thousands of families. This would put a heavy burden on government to increase state-funded assistance, which would increase taxes and further penalize non-automotive workers and professionals who are already enduring hard economic times. So, it’s safe to say that many Michiganders of faith have been praying for a miracle.

One church took that to the next level.

You may have seen Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, pastor of Greater Grace Temple of the Apostolic Faith in Detroit, Michigan on FOX News earlier this month. Bishop Ellis gained national attention by holding a prayer service for the Big Three with three hybrid SUV's on the altar (yes, the sanctuary at Greater Grace Temple is that big). The three sport utility vehicles were actually parked on the altar as ministers prayed for Congress to bail out Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors. Bishop Ellis appeared on FOX News to share with the nation his rationale and perspective as a clergyman concerning the will of God in Michigan’s economic turmoil.



If this is the first time you have heard this story, I’m sure you are a bit shocked and possibly even conflicted about the question of appropriateness or rightness of such an event. Before I saw this story, I already had conflicting feelings about whether or not the Big Three should be bailed out by American tax dollars. While it would help keep friends and family from going under, it goes against everything I believe politically. After the story first aired on local news here, my stomach really started turning.

You see, until I got married and moved 150 miles west of Detroit in 2004, Bishop Ellis was my pastor.

My wedding, officiated by Bishop Charles H. Ellis IIIBishop Ellis married my husband and I, and we received our marriage counseling from him. I was an active member at Greater Grace when I was attending the church, and spoke to my pastor on a regular basis. It’s pretty safe to say that I know this man about as well as a layperson can know their leader. So, being respectful of his spiritual office and my knowledge of who he is as an individual, I had to take a long, hard look at whether or not the hand of God was at work against my conservative values, which, ironically enough, are rooted in Christian faith. My politics are different than that of my former bishop, but we are of the same faith; we love and serve the same God. Yet, my convictions leaned right while his leaned left. I had to ask myself a very serious question:

Does God want America to bail out the Big Three?

While you may not be a Christian, I think that we can find our answer in the video clip of Bishop Ellis’ interview. He basically conveyed that it is his job to represent the interests of the people before God. I know that it is also his job to convey the interests of God before the people. Godly logic says that while the Lord’s perfect will would involve everyone taking full responsibility for their own actions and suffering the consequences nobly, the mercy of God dictates that the level of suffering must be bearable in order to be effective. Michigan is being chastised, but it does not appear that God wants us to be destroyed. Grace would not be grace if it were deserved. While Republicans like myself can argue that the automakers deserve to go bankrupt, maybe God is giving Michigan ‘greater grace’ than what politics would call for.

Maybe God heard his people saying, “Lord, have mercy”, and he decided to grant their request.

As it stands now, it appears to be inevitable that General Motors and Chrysler will receive most of the funds that they are requesting. George Bush needs some brownie points before he leaves office, and it looks like this is going to be the issue he tries to use to get them. Politics as usual. However, no matter how you slice it and what you may or may not believe, I can say one thing for sure:

Apparently, my God really does answer prayer.

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