Wednesday, November 9, 2016
An Open Letter to My Fellow White Christians
Congratulations. You voted like a near-uniform bloc (81% according to the Washington Post's data, also, see handy visual aid to the right, courtesy of the fine folks at Pew Research) for Donald J. Trump to be the next president, and you have gotten your wish. Caesar is very much on his throne, and this time, the throne is decked out in gaudy, ornately eye-bleeding gold.
I also hope that the Faustian bargain that you made with our new Caesar was very much worth it. This is someone who lived in a very un-Christlike manner for decades--ostentatiously both chasing and showing off wealth; demeaning, belitting, abusing, cheating on, and assaulting women; profanely cutting down people of color like the Central Park Five, and much more--but who, in recent months, began pretending to speak our language so badly that it was almost comical (remember Two Corinthians?).
This Johnny-Come-Lately to the pews did not talk about how he needed grace and forgiveness--quite the opposite. He did not talk about how he saw the value and dignity in all people, even those who looked different from him--quite the opposite. He, at almost every turn, made it abundantly clear to you just how much of a charade his act really was. But because he also promised you power, clout, and relevance again, you hitched yourselves to his wagon.
I shouldn't have to remind you that being tempted with promises of political power was the second of the three ways Satan deploys to try to get Jesus to worship him in the wilderness. I hope you see the parallels between that temptation and this one, as well as the incongruity of the ending: Jesus successfully resisted such temptation. It appears that you have not.
It isn't just that you have succumbed to temptation--after all, we all do, in some form or fashion, and often at many times throughout your life. It is the particular tempter to whom you have succumbed.
He called Mexicans rapists, and that didn't disqualify him for you.
He called for banning an entire religion from entering the United States, and that wasn't a dealbreaker.
He said that women should face legal punishment for having an abortion, and he got a pass.
He circulated anti-Semitic memes on social media, and it didn't push him out of the running.
He claimed that a federal judge should be disqualified from presiding over a fraud case--that, by the by, is still very much active, much more so than Hillary's emails--because of where that judge's parents were born, and it didn't remove him from your list of options.
He decided to keep the entire country in suspense rather than commit to a peaceful transition of power, regardless of the result, and the response was apparently a collective shrug.
And he was caught, on tape, bragging about sexually assaulting women, and when a dozen woman bravely came forward to use their own names to confirm his bragging, you still voted for him.
I used to think that when the tempter arrived, it wouldn't be so obvious that he was in fact the tempter. But no, it was transparently, astoundingly obvious.
And you fell for his tricks anyways. How can this possibly be a result of the faith we share in someone who resisted, at every turn, the wiles and deviousness of the Adversary?
Look, what's done is done. Trump is the president-elect, fair and square. But I beg you, beseech you, plead with you, *please* spend the next four years keeping a watchful eye over your Muslim neighbor, your Jewish neighbor, your Latino/a neighbor, your African-American neighbor, your queer neighbor. You may have been the ones to fall prey to Caesar's tricks, but they are the ones for whom Caesar represents a threat, sacrificed upon the twin altars of self-interest and privilege.
Part of being a Christian--one of the biggest parts of being a Christian--is the practice of surrender, of giving up of yourself and of your own self-interests. I really do hope that you can see and understand why yesterday appears to be a surrender to those self-interests rather than a surrender of those self-interests, because millions of people are now in anguish because of it. People of color and queer people are already receiving hate messages. David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan are already taking victory laps. That is hardly the fruit of the Spirit.
And if that makes you uncomfortable to know is taking place, do not run from that discomfort. Know that it is only a fraction of what your queer neighbors or your neighbors of color may be feeling right now.
So, again, congratulations on your guy winning the mantle of leader of the free world for the next four years. You may well feel like this is a cause for celebration for you, and since your side won, I can hardly begrudge you that. Just please, please, do not act like such a cause for celebration has anything to do at all with our shared faith in the one we call the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.
To my black, Latino/a, queer, Muslim and Jewish friends: I repeat what I said on Facebook and on Twitter--I am yours for the next four years. I am at your disposal to advocate for your safety and freedom, and if they come for you, I will stand up both for you and alongside you. Mourn how you need to mourn, grieve how you need to grieve, and let us go and be salt for an earth that so desperately needs it now.
And finally, once more, to my white evangelical brethren: there may well come a time in the next four years when you will, in the spirit of Pontius Pilate, want to wash your hands of that which you have brought upon those neighbors for the sake of your own selfishness. But know that there is no earthly washbasin that can fully erase that which by your vote you have wished, intentionally or not, upon your fellow children of God.
November 9, 2016