By Representative Allan Farley
In my Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, you read of Shepherds. When you look up Shepherd in Webster’s dictionary you will find: a person who protects, guides, or watches over other people. So, as I go from my Bible to the modern day Webster’s dictionary, I suggest that an Elected Official has a responsibility far greater than a civic duty. I also believe that the evil and greed we see in today’s political arena has always been there. You see, even Jesus, the Good Shepherd, had 12 appointees. (One was motivated by money).
Jeremiah 23:1 Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture! declares the LORD.
I am talking about today’s elected officials. (Yes, my hand is up, and my head is prayerfully down). Shepherds, representing thousands of families who live between lines on a map that we call cities, counties, and districts. Different races, religions, political affiliations, and incomes. As a Christian, I bear a heavy burden when I see officials publicly blaming racism as a reason for disparities in lower income communities. Such shepherds are making a living by keeping their flocks inside their pastures. (Zechariah 11:15 Then the LORD said to me, Take again the equipment of a foolish shepherd).
Let me be perfectly clear: Our current Republican controlled Alabama Legislature followed, to the letter, the Federal Law in redrawing our state’s legislative districts in 2012. The 1965 Voter Rights Act is very specific. It separates by color. (Apparently the prophetic speech of Dr. King, Judging a man by his character rather than the color of his skin, was not completely understood by some?) Now you have some Democrats shouting that Republicans are stacking and packing all the black voters in like districts. (We use their blueprints to design the pasture and they still cry WOLF).
What about the crazy boundaries in the majority Republican districts? (You heard me). The areas left over when the Voter Rights Act has been complied with. Is there a difference between the Mercedes communities and the Honda communities? Look around. We have all colors driving these two brands. So, why do we have a Black Democratic Caucus? Shouldn’t we have a Blue-Collar Caucus? Get away from skin color and focus on income. (Stop laughing, I’m serious). My district is stacked and packed full of us blue-collar folks. All are God’s people (Can I get a witness?).
We live in the greatest nation in the world. And, like the rest of the world, our economic status divides our neighborhoods. It’s about shades of green, not black or white. (Politicians know this, but a scared and angry flock will stay close to the shepherd). Our opportunities for improved living standards have increased for everyone in the United States over the past 50 years. But, there are still lines that divide communities. (My bible tells me there always will be).
In the Bible there is a story about the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel who were given an opportunity by God to explore the promised land of Canaan. The story tells us that only 2 of the 12 leaders, (Joshua and Caleb), believed in the power of God to protect them in this new land. However, the other 10 shepherds chose to dwell on the differences of the people they witnessed in this new land of opportunity. We know the outcome of this story. Those shepherds encouraged their constituents to cry out in fear and anger, and for the next 40 years their communities all stayed together…in the desert. (So much for preaching on differences).
Today the size and shape of our communities are changing due to the income of the residents. Therefore, in some communities you have a much higher tax base. And, that area has more tax funded benefits. They pay more for better schools, better roads, better shops, more police officers, less crime. (Talk about stacking and packing).
Household income is the determining factor. Not race, religion, or political affiliation. (Flocks move from pasture to pasture as their income increases and they become financially stronger).
In a recent discussion of my position on the Jefferson County Legislative Fund I told a newspaper reporter that our group of Legislators was too divided to share an office. I said that one of the only times I have seen this group come together has been in their majority consensus to keep the fund. No racial issues came up when these shepherds met to discuss this topic. (There really is a language that breaks down racial bearers).
1 Peter 5:2: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve.
God Bless America!!!