Responding with prayer to the rise of militias
A Christian Science perspective.
In February, a man crashed a plane into an IRS office in Austin, Texas, because of grievances he had with the government. Recently, more attention has been drawn to hostile antigovernment sentiments through a surge of militias. Often these groups are driven by racist and survivalist views and a feeling that violence is an acceptable means of dealing with grievances about the government. A troubled economy is adding fuel to the fire.
The Monitor reported that according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a nonprofit organization in Montgomery, Ala., that tracks hate groups, the number of armed militias is up from 42 in 2008 to 127. The SPLC notes that although not all groups are violent, they may encourage extremism in other groups or individuals who want to carry out acts of destruction on their own.
This smoldering distrust and disillusionment doesn’t have to break out in violence. But it urgently needs our prayer. While it is unquestionable that inequalities, injustice, and indifference in human governments are in need of correction, violence and hostility bring greater separation and often affect innocent people, and such feelings can never be condoned.
As I pray, I find my thought turning to the security and authority of God’s government – a government that can be trusted under all circumstances. Christ Jesus came to show all humankind, yesterday and today, that this government of God, as ever-operative Love and Principle, is here and everywhere on earth today.
Jesus called this government the kingdom of heaven. And his understanding that the power and mercy of this kingdom are within each one of us – man, woman, or child – enabled him to heal sickness and sin of every kind. He taught that this divine government of God overrules the lawlessness of hate and violence, the blindness of self-righteousness, and the chaos of fear. Where the beliefs of ethnic or racial supremacy rear up, appearing to be powerful and in control, the supremacy of omnipotent good destroys the foundation of these false ideas. Goodness gains the victory because God neither created evil nor gave it superiority in any form.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, championed the rights of all. She protested against whatever tried to take away the dignity and right of individuals to govern themselves through being governed by God. But she elucidated this idea from the understanding that God’s power is supreme and from the basis that the kingdom of heaven is our only real government. In her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” she wrote, “Heaven is not a locality, but a divine state of Mind in which all the manifestations of Mind are harmonious and immortal, because sin is not there and man is found having no righteousness of his own, but in possession of ‘the mind of the Lord,’ as the Scripture says” (p. 291).
Because every man, woman, and child is the image and likeness of his or her Maker, the divine Mind, we all include the supreme authority that characterizes the kingdom of heaven and that provides abundant goodness and harmony for everyone. Praying in this way, we can help moderate aggressive political and religious extremism that refuses to back down. This can open the way for collaboration and bring the humility that allows those in government authority to hear and correct legitimate grievances.
God is the only Mind of His creation. God – not a group or groupthink – gives us thoughts and desires. God influences us to choose in the direction of His goodness. His thoughts and desires can only unify and build up, can never divide or destroy, and they bring a higher sense of peace without a single element of disrupting violence. As Science and Health brings out, “The real jurisdiction of the world is in Mind, controlling every effect and recognizing all causation as vested in divine Mind” (p. 379).
God, who is Love itself, is constantly revealing His power and presence in the lives of individuals and nations. Where God is, hate has no power to escalate or grow. It can never stop the progress of God’s government or His purpose to tenderly lead us in directions that will be for the good of all. The rise of hostility as a voice, and as an operative power and force, must lose its hold, as Love’s control continues to grow with greater clarity and assurance in individual consciousness.