Inauguration Keynote

Social justice advocate says religion should be tool for love
Feb. 10, 2012

Powerful. Dynamic. Inspiring. Amazing. Attendees spoke these words after hearing noted journalist and best-selling author Keith Boykin deliver the pre-inaugural keynote address.

Speaking for nearly one hour, Boykin, a regular commentator with CNBC, former assistant to President Bill Clinton and Harvard Law School classmate with President Barack Obama, wasted no time in rousing the crowd at First Presbyterian Church, San Anselmo.

“Fear is the antithesis of love,” said Boykin, speaking on the theme of Faith and Public Life. He shared stories and examples of how racism, sexism, LGBT issues and other social and political conversations are being compartmentalized and categorized based upon people’s fears. “People use their faith in the public arena to alienate those who disagree with them,” he added. Boykin spoke of anti-Semitic, homophobic and anti-civil rights groups that mobilize and use religion as the foundation for their hate. “Religion should be used as a tool for love, and not a weapon for hate.”

Boykin responded to the often-used catch phrase, “What would Jesus do?” Although a great question, he suggested that people need to examine their own ideologies:  “Rather than assuming that we must automatically speak on behalf of the Lord, are we working on the side of the Lord?  Are we putting into practice what the Lord teaches us about love, care and humility?” If we are to use our faith for good … to positively affect public life, then we must overcome fear with love.”

In closing, Boykin issued a challenge to the audience: “When you dare to be powerful, to use your strength in the service of your vision, then it will become less and less important whether or not you are afraid. You will be replacing fear, with love.”


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