On Wednesday donald trump made a number of outlandish and nonsensical comments. One of them was eerily familiar to me. It was during a wild 40 minute press gaggle outside the White House when trump claimed, in response to the harm his ridiculous trade war with China is causing the economy, that he was “the chosen one” as he looked up in the sky. But we should not be surprised by this claim. I am not at least. I have heard claims like this for as long as I have been a Christian, specifically in the evangelical world.
To save you the excruciating pain of having to actually watch Fox News prime time in order to refute the inhumane and ineffective policies of this current administration, I am sharing below some of the arguments I keep coming across and a few ways to respond, and I am focusing on the latest administrative rule to be handed down: the public charge rule.
I absolutely believe in the transformational power of relationships. I believe in relationships as the primary vehicle by which God uses to change the world. It is essential to create spaces for people directly impacted by injustice and potential allies with privilege to begin mutual and honest relationships that can lead to solidarity and political power for the purpose of achieving concrete change. But I am exhausted from trying to build bridges with people who live in privilege solely for the sake of building bridges.
I honestly cannot imagine how hurtful and completely unnecessary this experience was for the nearly 700 migrants in Mississippi on Wednesday. I would likely be consumed with an aching, sick feeling of being separated from my children, my church, and my community. And oh the shame of being arrested and detained and set for deportation. My freedom gone, my hopes for a new life for my kids dashed, and I had done nothing wrong besides loving my family enough to try and provide a good life for them.
Today donald trump will wrongly go to El Paso and Dayton and it feels to me like he victimizing the people there a second time. These are families dealing with unbelievable tragedy as well as families of those injured dealing with uncertain futures. It also includes the communities at large who are left to pick up and move on after their lives have been upended by the violence in their backyards. But he is going and just before he left he of course went after Beto O’Rourke in yet another one of his vicious attacks on people.
As I write these words, it is well past midnight the night that a white supremacist, anti-immigrant, trump-loving mass shooter walked into a mall in El Paso and killed 20 people and injured 26 people. Right now I can’t sleep because I am seething. I am beyond angry. And there are so many people to be angry at.
Much is now being made among Democrats about the need to be more “pragmatic” in order to win back the White House in 2020. We have - wrongly I believe - equated being pragmatic with being timid and incremental in an effort to please both sides. However, in reality, we are defining pragmatism with a completely political lens; a political lens that is trapped within a country that is historically and inherently racist, classist, sexist, and violent.
With the infrastructure that has been created over the past fifty years we should not be surprised that there are powerful interests that are working to ensure that the United States government – supported by much of the US public – believe that the answer to every ill we face as a nation can be attained through some form of corporate spending, or tax cuts that supposedly will allow corporations to spend more. The immigration issue is no different in this regard.
I believe there are two ways out of evangelicalism for people authentically interested in following Jesus. And for those of us who reject or are in the process of rejecting evangelicalism and moving towards liberation, we must be about one of these ways of evangelizing evangelicals. One way evangelicalism dies is through transformation. I prefer liberation or even salvation, but regardless, evangelicals must reject evangelicalism as a whole and pursue the biblical Jesus.
But I will be honest, I am tired of recounting my failures in the struggles for justice. In fact, I am starting to feel like being an “ally” has become trendy; as has the words associated with fighting for liberation. I despise the inauthenticity that I am sensing has started to creep in to the movement for full LGBTQ affirmation in the church.
In what is yet another example of this administration’s commitment to either harm or outright buffoonery - and most of the time it is a healthy mixture of both - donald trump will be awarding “economist” Arthur Laffer the Medal of Freedom. The Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award given to individuals who have shown “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” Of course, Laffer has made no contribution except to the affluent and the powerful, which is exactly why he is getting the award.
I resonate with the sentiment often uttered that life in the trump era feels overwhelming, but it is when I feel overwhelmed that I instinctively want to pour myself into my beautiful and amazing sons - Elisha and Isaiah. I want to love them and listen to them and encourage them and support them and dream with them.
While the documentary has a number of significant voices of criminologists and activists, especially activists who themselves have experienced incarceration, the religious voices they feature were all white, male, conservative Christians. And I do not have to remind you that it was white, conservative, Christian men who are most responsible for mass incarceration.
For the third time House Republicans blocked a $19.1 billion dollar disaster relief bill from moving on to the Senate because they either think the bill is too expensive or because it is not expensive enough and does include funding for militarization of the border. The reason has never been clarified, but what is clear is that House Republicans are opposed to giving people who recently suffered natural disasters money to recover and rebuild.
By and large liberals have almost completely ceded the ground of evangelism to evangelicals, most of whom practice a form of evangelistic cultural colonialism. That is why I call them Evangelical Nationalists. The abuse Evangelical Nationalists heap on individuals is horrific and only getting worse. We need a helluva lot more evangelism happening from people who follow the biblical Jesus; our evangelism needs to shift from “winning people to Jesus” to rescuing people from the North American Church. Here is why we need a shift in evangelism.