Dear Church, I have something to ask you.
Can I ask you a question?
I was raised in church in rural Pennsylvania. I grew up singing Sunday School songs, I spent my university years reading texts from the early church parents, and I still find great fascination in the life of the man who always defended the marginalized, the oppressed, the minorities, the outcasts, women, and children. Love was the core of Christ’s message, and love brings hope and light into this world.
There have been many times in history where the institution of the church and the actions of its members have baffled me and caused great harm, and today is one of those times.
So I need your clarification.
The world is left in the wake of a difficult election, and what is unclear is what was said YES to… and if, in that yes, there can be a resounding HELL NO.
Allow me to explain.
We all have our right to vote. I’m not arguing against that.
And many of you voted for Trump. Maybe it was for personal or economic reasons. Maybe it was for a change or a fear. I don’t pretend to understand all the nuances of this election, and I had many differing reasons why I voted Blue. Yet regardless of the colors of our voting stickers, we need to have a conversation.
Church, the world is watching. And if you voted for Trump and if you call yourself a person of faith, then it is your responsibility to show us you listened carefully to Trump’s words. And then it is your responsibility to denounce the platform of hateful rhetoric he has espoused.
I did not vote for Trump, yet I too take this on as my responsibility. Words shape our world. This man has used words to verbally target specific groups of people: the disabled, those of particular races, genders, creeds, and vulnerabilities. You can chock it all up to PR or a “media show” but his words hold power – and they are now inciting and underwriting hate in our world.
In the last 24 hours, children in my East Coast hometown were yelling “cotton pickers, you’re a nig***, Heil Hitler” in their school. Thousands of tweets since the election have been spurning “your time’s up” to Muslim and Mexican-Americans. All over the country, incidences of bigotry and racism have been on the rise, with people claiming Presidential backing for such insults, abuses, and even the physical harm of others.
When someone becomes endorsed as a leader, there is a a conscious condoning of what that person stands for. And the President Elect has said many disturbing words. We must be clear that we will not now nor never condone hate, racism, or the further ecological destruction of our planet. We must be vocal about what we denounce. And by denounce, I mean find ways to publicly, peacefully, and unequivocally reject his hateful words – from your pulpits, in your social media, in your conversations with youth, in the way you treat each other, in whatever platform microscopic or large you have. AND SOON.
As I said earlier, Love was the core of Christ’s message. And yet in this love, his gravest critiques were for those who called themselves ‘holy’ while leaving the vulnerable undefended. Eighty-one percent of you voted for Trump. Without any further explanation, that leaves the world wondering why eighty-one percent of the church condones messages that are profoundly antithetical to your faith.
If you voted Red based on sanctity of life, that is your citizen’s prerogative — but then please stand up and create a world where children, once they are born, are free from modeled slander and bigotry.
If you voted against leaked emails, write intentional emails that spread the word on what you DO believe and how you intend to keep ALL people safe. Use the power of technology to show what you stand for. Write your Congressman. Write a FB post.
If you want immigration reform, that’s fine. But there is no ethnicity that is free from wrong doing. Make it your job to make it clear that rape is not tied to ethnicity, nor are school shootings or hate crimes. Historically, we’ve all had blood on our hands and continue to. And we all want it to end.
Be clear on what you said NO to and find visible ways to voice it. Even if you voted YES, say NO to all that cannot be upheld. Tell the President Elect that he must uphold the creed that “all men (and women) are created equal.” Tweet him – I’m sure he’ll respond. Take other Trump voters out to breakfast to celebrate if you need to, but refuse to let your political leanings negate the demand for basic human decency and equal human rights.
We must join hands and make it the mark of our generation that, whatever our economic preferences or views on foreign policy, that hate is unacceptable and that the parable of the Good Samaritan still has clout in our bones. That even if we differ on HOW to help people that are different from us, we do not differ that we MUST, lest our future great-grand children look back and wonder what our character really stood for and how far removed we have gotten for our own humanity.
The world has been filled over the campaign with heinous and vicious words about our fellow humans. And if we remain silent on that topic, we too echo those words and remain complicit.
As we speak up, let us speak firmly and without abuse, removing Trump’s perpetual words of “moron,” “loser,” and “idiot” from our dialect. Demand of your President that the terms “Muslims” “Mexicans” “Blacks” “Jews” “Native Americans” “foreigners” “immigrants” and “refugees” will never be used in a derogatory way – and when they are, they will counteracted with truth.
Show the world that hypocrisy is dead, because if you won’t, you are showing them how alive it has actually become.
I take this on my own shoulders as well. All assumptions must be dropped. Please don’t assume that because I voted Blue, I am opposed to bigotry. Don’t assume anything until I tell you, and I’m telling you now. I vow to speak, because we must not remain silent in the face of evil. I teach at a school where we tell children to “use their words” to express themselves. That is my plea in writing.
I say NO to hate. To racist remarks. To abusive words. To racist acts. To swastikas. To blanket statements. To categorizing those different from me as wrong. To saying that all Muslims are terrorists. To saying that anyone who has crossed the border illegally is a harmful person. I say no to sexual violence. I say no to women only needing to be small framed, small voiced, and demure or else they are a “pig.” I say no to locker room talk. I say no to profanity. I say no to slander against homosexuals, transgenders, and the LGBTQ community.
I want to be clear on what I say “No” to, and I ask you, Church, to tell the world and your President where you draw your line.