Let Your 'Yes' Be ...

December 05, 2012

Yesterday several Republican U.S. senators offered a blatant form of dishonesty and hypocrisy. In doing so they enacted a living parable that helps illustrate a teaching of Jesus in the 'Sermon on the Mount.' As the Senate debated adoption of a United Nations treaty on disabilities, former Republican Senate leader and presidential nominee Bob Dole was pushed in a wheelchair onto the Senate floor. He came to urge support for the treaty. Here is part of how the New York Times described the vote:

Senators from both parties went to greet Mr. Dole, leaning in to hear his wispy reply, as he sat in support of the treaty, which would require that people with disabilities have the same general rights as those without disabilities. Several members took the unusual step of voting aye while seated at their desks, out of respect for Mr. Dole, 89, a Republican who was the majority leader. Then, after Mr. Dole's wife, Elizabeth, rolled him off the floor, Republicans quietly voted down the treaty that the ailing Mr. Dole, recently released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, so longed to see passed.
Did you catch it? So some Republican senators voted for the treaty while Dole was watching, but then switched their votes once he left (wonder if they realized God and reporters were watching the whole time). In the end, the treaty failed to get the necessary two-thirds support as the final vote was 61-38. Only eight Republicans voted for the treaty, while 38 voted against (and one did not vote as he is on leave due to a disability). The failure to adopt a treaty that essentially encourages everyone in the world to humanely treat people with disabilities like we do in the U.S. (since the treaty was modeled after the Americans With Disabilities Act) is bad. The theater of voting "aye" in Dole's presence and then "nay" when he left is worse. Guess Jesus had some good advice after all:
"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."
May that last line be a warning and rebuke to those Republican senators.

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