Dear Pastor Senator Warnock,
I am glad you won your re-election! I was in your hometown of Savannah on your election day, December 6, 2022. I walked by your old high school and the project housing where you grew up. I saw the economic/racial divide that was the theater of your childhood. Though you grew up in the post Jim Crow era and went to an integrated high school you did not grow up in post- racist society. I could see just how far your road to the US Senate has been.
The race/class divide in Savannah, in Georgia, in the United States, is still extreme in 2022. In Savannah it was visible to this casual visitor who ventured out of the tourist central core. We need bold initiative to right these wrongs. That is why I am eager to see someone who is a follower of Black Liberation Theology, a progenitor of the anti-slavery church, a preacher of the social gospel, a mentee of Martin Luther King Jr. making policy.
I think I am not the only one. I believe the national interest in your election went beyond concerns with Senate numbers. We were inspired by your rise, and your willingness to put policy discussions in spiritual terms. We are hungry for social change inspired by a moral compass.
So, with that in mind, I have some spiritual policy questions for you. The two signature actions of your tenure in office were 1. Save a military base in Savannah and 2. team up with Senator Ted Cruz to pass an infrastructure project to build a highway from Texas to Georgia. You brought money and jobs to your state in the way that Senators of both parties have been doing for centuries. The difference is that you used new rhetoric to elevate political pork to prayerful action, with a twist of your talented tongue.
What I want to know is, can you envision a time when instead of tooling the local economy by preserving military bases and building highways, we create green, high paying union jobs— with health benefits and sick time, (listen to railroad workers), building mass transit. When do we stop training for military destruction and begin training to fight climate change, to fight poverty, to create a public health system, to build quality affordable housing?
You are right. Infrastructure is a spiritual subject. When do we begin Tikkun, repair, for the damage done with past infrastructure projects, highways that destroyed Black communities and created white suburbs? The US, and the US South especially is badly in need of infrastructure building and repair. When do we begin doing it with equity and sustainability as our central goals?
When is the time for us to turn swords into plow shares? When do we begin as a nation, to repair the damage we have done with our militarism and our conquest? The work of global reparations will be labor-intensive (job-creating) and will give people a sense of purpose and a chance for heroism that, in addition to economic reasons, is a motivation for most people when they join the military. Can’t we begin the process of healing, rather than creating more victims of post-traumatic stress, here, and around the world?
I am no theologian. Tell me, doesn’t liberation theology live in these possibilities and the requirement to act on them?
I pray that now, as you do not have to run for six years, and the Senate has a 51-49 majority, we will we start to see liberating vision transformed into policy. But I am a political realist with a knowledge of how social change happens. I will join others in pressuring you and your colleagues to do the right thing; to speak truth to the power you now hold. That is my intention with this public letter.