By Bill Mefford
I have started noticing something that disturbs me. Yeah, I know what you are thinking, when do I see something that doesn’t bother me?
But back to the latest bother. Since the Electoral College put donald trump in office some thoughtful members of the evangelical movement have become disgusted with the allegiance that evangelicals have shown towards trump above and beyond that which they give to Jesus and his church. The overwhelming majority of evangelicals have come to relish the arrogance, meanness, and nationalism exhibited by trump rather than the values of love, compassion, empathy, and mission that is supposed to characterize the lives of followers of Jesus.
I have talked with several “evangelicals” who continue to maintain that classification but who are openly critical of the evangelical movement at-large (and particularly white evangelicals) because of the idolatry of trump’s brand of racist nationalism replacing the rightful place of God’s Kingdom. I have encouraged my evangelical friends to leave behind their identity as evangelicals as I did in 2003 when I saw so many evangelicals support the illegal invasion of Iraq and the unnecessary deaths - murders - of tens of thousands of Iraqis.
I am deeply encouraged to see evangelicals leave evangelicalism though I must admit, there is a big part of me that wants to ask, “what the hell took you so long?” To just now see the inconsistency of evangelicalism with Scripture, particularly among white people, makes me wonder what Bible they were reading all these years.
But no matter, liberation, whether it be in 2003 or 2018, is still liberation and I can only say hallelujah at that news.
But I am now seeing something from some of the evangelicals who are leaving evangelicalism that deeply bothers me. There is something of an expectation among some evangelicals who have left, or who have started to leave evangelicalism who expect to be revered by their newly found liberal or liberationist friends.
I even saw the Twitter feed of one well-known former evangelical (though I am not sure how “former” they are), who made a remark about how shocked they were that they had not received a single invitation to speak at a progressive conference. Dude, expecting the world to turn cartwheels because you have altered your theological classification shows that you may have left evangelicalism, but evangelicalism has not left you.
Pardon us if we liberals and liberationists do not drop everything and run to embrace every white evangelical male when they start to question their group of friends they have hung around all their lives just because their friends are now donning MAGA hats and it makes them feel a little uncomfortable. We are too busy caring for people and families who are daily being crushed by this current administration to stop and have liberation parties every time you “like” a John Oliver video on Facebook.
Here’s the deal, as I gradually came to the decision in 2002-2003 that I could no longer call myself an evangelical because of their idolatrous support for George W. Bush and his dimwitted leadership that murdered tens of thousands of Iraqis, I didn’t look for applause, I looked to learn. I began associating with the Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice - great and passionate people who tend to be Quakers or atheists and who wanted to end support for the war in Central Kentucky. I also increased my reading of liberation theology; people like Gustavo Gutierrez, Albert Memmi, Clodovis Boff, James Cone, and many more. I began to be so influenced by liberation theology that it became an important lens through which my dissertation was written and it is why I now classify myself as a liberationist.
In other words, I knew I needed to learn (and to unlearn) more than I needed to talk or to speak or to be heard. And guess what? I don’t have any invitations to speak at progressive conferences either.
Maybe what white male evangelicals need to give up more than trump is our privilege.