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 This was a letter I submitted to the Advocate. As of this newsletter date, it has not been printed. I thought you should know where I am with the proposed St. George breakaway.

A religious argument for a united Baton Rouge

When I heard about the proposed city of St. George it broke my heart. It stirs in me a great spiritual unrest. I think this split will hurt everyone. In the short term, most of Baton Rouge will be stripped of major income sources. Areas with less economic means will be left with even fewer resources than they have now. But St. George will be hurt as well. What happens to all of St. George as the trend of moving back into the city-center continues? What happens when the malls and big box stores become unsustainable as people start looking for smaller, denser, walkable city environments?

But I am not a city planner. I am a pastor, born and raised in Louisiana, and my main concern is with the soul and the spirit of my people. And you, Baton Rouge residents and St. George petition signers, are my people. Louisiana has a spiritually corrosive culture of “us” and “them.” From a young age, I was taught that New Orleans people are different from Lafayette people. I was taught that city people and rural people were different. Different classes, races, ethnicities and political parties were not “my” people. All these differences existed to inform me that “they aren’t like you.” This trend has gotten worse with the hyper-polarization of media and politics.

This way of viewing ourselves hurts our cities and hurts our people. It causes us to look at resources as scarce. It permits apathy towards our neighbors. It is why we let our buildings and bridges crumble, it is why we find ourselves on the bottom of every list nationally.

The best things that came out of Louisiana came from uniting cultures: Jazz, gumbo, Mardi Gras, Zydeco. These come from a love and trust of our neighbors. I trust that the people of EBR parish will do what is the best interest of us all.