It’s bad out here, people! The political division, the way Christianity is all tied up in it, the fear, hatred, ugly, and unknown. Everyone who reads here doesn’t agree with my faith and politics but most everyone these days is feeling the pressure, disorientation, anger, the sometimes-hopelessness that we will ever come back to some kind of unity after this much division.
I really don’t know how this is all going to turn out; we’re only 100 days into this administration and it’s far more brutal than I expected.
There’s fallout everywhere, but one of the primary ones I’m seeing right now is how many are truly grieving the reality that “Christianity” has become so deeply tied to the religious right and that is how we are being reflected in the world in this tumultuous season. Far-right Republicans and Evangelical and/or Fundamentalist Christianity are tied together in a significant way, and it’s telling a story that most of the Christians I know (including a lot of evangelicals) don’t want to be connected to in any way, shape, or form.
“Christians” are stripping people of health care, lowering taxes for the rich while the poor lose their services, gunning for a wall to keep “those people out”, and loving guns more than peace-making. “Christians” are advocating against equality for all and systematically dismantling protections for women and vulnerable people. “Christians” are cheering that the White House finally has God back in the center after all these years, rallying for Muslims to be discriminated against, to close our borders to refugees, and approving of this administration at a higher rate than any other group.
I have worked hard to remain a Christian despite all of the ways my faith has shifted and still identify as one because no matter how you slice it up, Jesus is still who I’m following, who I still believe is at-work-healing-the-world.
But damn, I’m embarrassed right now by how we’re being represented in the wider world.
I’ve already written about how when people ask me if I’m a Christian, I usually say, “Um, well, it depends on what you mean by that?”
That was before the election, the reality of the exit polls, the past 100 days, the gleeful cheers and pats on the back when a whole bunch of elected officials voted to completely gut health care for millions of Americans, before executive order after executive order discriminating against refugees, immigrants, Muslims, and LGBQT+ folks and stripping rights for women.
Now, it’s gotten way worse.
“Christian” is no longer being aligned with Christ and all he embodied–compassion, mercy, love, justice, humility, that in our weakness we are strong, and the deepest alliance with the vulnerable, the marginalized, the oppressed.
Instead it’s being aligned with a system that is centered on power, strength, might, division, and separation from the hurting and vulnerable.
And that hurts,
Evangelicalism is embedded in my story and the reason why I’m here today; it’s my extended family, the tribe where I was forever changed. Even though I no longer align with some of the beliefs, I can’t escape that we are all under the same umbrella of “Christian.” But how in the $(@#$^?!% could we have grown this far apart? How has it become that I can’t even look at them on a TV screen or read a poll without feeling a deep pit in my stomach? How do I disconnect from what I perceive as their destruction of so many things I deeply care about?
I think our best shot here is to play our part in telling a better story.
And we know that better story! We are touched by Christ’s love and trust that story in us, and have also seen it work around us not just in theory but in flesh and blood and spirit. The good news that is actually good news–God with us–remains a story to celebrate and share and live out.
The media might not notice at first.
Our lawmakers may not notice at first (until they are up for re-election).
But our friends and our neighbors and community leaders and other-people-who-care-about-people-in-our-cities will.
They need to see a better story.
And, goodness gracious, we need to live a better story.
They’ll notice that all Christians aren’t advocating for walls and tax cuts and protections for the strong.
They’ll notice love in the strangest places, people risking their position and power on behalf of change.
They’ll feel the touch of healing hugs and unconditional presence and the taste of what it’s like to be treated with dignity and respect.
They’ll hear us stand at town halls and share that the reason we are advocating for health care for all is because of our faith, not in spite of it.
They’ll see us love our neighbor instead of hide from them.
They’ll see us empower women instead of subjugate them.
They’ll see us flood organizations who care about the marginalized and oppressed and most vulnerable with resources so they can continue the work (This is tricky; very conservative Christians pour a ton of money into a lot of places, greatly influencing who does what in the world. We’ve got to change that at the grassroots level).
They’ll see us show up in hard places like never before.
They’ll feel Jesus without someone telling them they’re supposed to.
They’ll see us advocate, educate, agitate despite the costs.
It’s rough out here, people, but goodness gracious we need a better story.
We need to be part of a better story.
We need God to remind us there is a better story.
We need to tell a better story.
We need to embody a better story.
Yeah, as hard and brutal as it is out here, it’s a beautiful gift to be part of, too.
Thank you friends who are telling a better story right now.
I need one. The world needs one. I’m guessing some of you do, too.
I’m glad there is one.