Published July 30, 2010
You've seen the headlines:
• "Tea Party, dead on arrival?"
• "Tea Parties racked by infighting, confusion and dissent"
• "Tea Partiers eat their own, in bitter internal feud"
So I invited representatives from several groups to sort it out, because I believe everyone in the fight to save the republic must come together. But first I want to go back to the Movement Action Plan that I showed you earlier this week of political movements.
It was designed in the '70s by a progressive, a guy named Bill Moyer and it eventually became known as the Movement Action Plan.
Back then, activists were trying to stop the government from following through on their goal to create at least 1,000 new nuclear power plants by the turn of the century. Moyer looked at the commonalities of all the protest movements and provided a map to follow.
He knew that creating social change required a group effort and he laid out eight stages within the plan. Stage number five is "perception of failure," a sense of powerlessness, an identity crisis. This stage takes place right when a huge success is occurring, when people begin to doubt whether they've had successes or whether everything is falling apart.
I think this may be the stage where the Tea Party is right now.
It happens in every political movement — a feeling of frustration — but you must not dismantle because of it. Our Founders understood this.
Back in the 1700s, George Whitefield tried to bring the divided 13 colonies together by preaching his "Father Abraham" sermon. The colonies didn't like each other very much before the Revolution. They were very much independent and separate entities. For 40 years, Whitefield traveled across the country to deliver a sermon to get those colonies to set aside their differences and unite on what they shared in common: A thirst for freedom.
The text of that sermon was recorded by John Adams. It went something like this:
Father Abraham, are there any Presbyterians in heaven? The answer came back, no.
Father Abraham, are there any Episcopalians in heaven? No.
Are there any Quakers or Baptists or Methodists in heaven? No, none.
So then Whitefield asked, Father Abraham, who is in heaven?
The answer came back: Christians.
With that sermon, he helped the colonists see themselves as a single people with one divine destiny coming together for a larger cause. Historians agree that had Whitefield not done what he did, the colonies might never have united to fight Great Britain.
Samuel Adams put Whitefield's message into practice in Congress in September 1774, when a motion was offered to open the first Continental Congress with prayer. That simple request met stiff resistance by some of the most devout Christians among the delegates; they argued that because the group was made up of Episcopalians, Quakers, Presbyterians and others — that they couldn't join together in the same act of worship with one another.
But Samuel Adams broke through the objections when he arose and said he was: "No bigot and could hear a prayer from a gentleman of piety and virtue, who was at the same time a friend to his country." Adams then invited Jacob Duche, an Episcopal clergyman, to lead prayers the next morning.
They all ended up not only praying together but having a Bible study that some say lasted as long as two hours.
Coming together. Standing together and putting aside what divides and focusing instead on what unites.
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