To the 80% – my fellow evangelical brothers and sisters in Christ,
I know that many of you are celebrating the results of the election. I take few qualms with that. When you “win”, celebrating is expected.
However, I have seen several people ask why so many others are sad, angry, frustrated, afraid and feel betrayed. We see the call for unity, and the exhortation to stop talking about it as a pathway to this unity.
I want to take a moment to shed light on that.
I would venture to say that respectful dialogue is part of the healing process. Talking it through, and listening. We do need to focus on what binds us. Christ does.
I start this by saying, I don’t know you. But, I imagine as brothers and sisters in Christ you want to represent Him well. With that, I am going to address something.
There are several difficulties here.
The church (white evangelical) through the years have historically been the one to create and perpetrate the divide.
Please, stay with me. It’ll be a long one. But, I want you to understand the hurt here.
When I was in Ghana, I visited a slave castle. In the castle there was a church. An Anglican church. The church was built directly above the slave dungeon. The white men above would worship, pray and read the Bible, above the sounds of African men, women and children lamenting having been ripped from their homes to be shipped to unknown lands and unknown fates. They were unmoved. These were men in the church.
Once in America, these enslaved Africans were subjected to people beating them, maiming, raping, and destroying their families, separating them, refusing them the opportunity to marry because that was for white Christians. They were told to become Christians – expected to – because that would be a way to keep them in line. The Bible was used to justify this, to constantly reinforce that they were less than human and God wanted this fate for them. Then, forbidden to learn how to read to prevent them from learning the truth. This was the role of the white evangelical church.
Later, they would not be allowed to attend white churches, Southern Baptist, etc. If they were allowed, they had to sit away from whites – in the back, the rafters, outside. So, they had to create their own – African Methodist Episcopal, Missionary Baptist, etc. Their pastors were not allowed to attend conservative evangelical seminaries (I know, I went to one, and in the late 90s/early 2000s the remnants of that legacy would remain). This was the action of the white evangelical church.
During Jim Crow days, those who enforced the laws, who wore badges during the day, and sheets at night, those who stood before cameras – proudly and boldly telling the world that they refused to integrate and backed this up with beatings and hoses – they did so saying it was God’s will. This is the legacy of the white evangelical church.
In the movement towards multi-cultural churches and overseas missions – by and large – the desire to SEE diversity is there, but not the desire to BE diverse – in music, leadership, the causes that are undertaken. We are told that pro-life (saving unborn children) is the MOST important thing (and I am pro-life). But, the stance of being pro-life post birth with fighting poverty, and social injustices is called a social gospel and liberation theology and not real theology or the real gospel (even though it is what we are repeatedly told in Scripture) This is the legacy of the white evangelical church.
This is why it is difficult to watch this. To hear the rhetoric of someone who speaks the language that our parents, and grandparents and great-grandparents thought was behind them (at least in public).
To hear the insults, the threats and see the surge and rise of white supremacists who supported the president-elect. The fears may seem unfounded, but real, because history informs us of the possibilities. Yet, we are told to stop lamenting, stop talking, and show unity.
Eight years ago, when white evangelicals lamented, cried, prayed for Obama’s death fearing that he was the anti-Christ, and the leader of the House said they would oppose him – there was significant silence from the church. Few calls for unity, for rational thinking. For praying and waiting and seeing how he will do. There was no indication he would be the anti-Christ. No indication he was Muslim beyond a name and locale – he even went to church (and his pastor’s comments added another level of fear and Obama bended to distance himself)
Now. We are where we are. We, who are sisters and brothers in Christ who are hurt, confused, and lamenting, and are being “biblically” told to shut up and unify.
Hopefully you can see and understand some of the struggle. It’s not that we don’t want unity. We do. I do. We want to honor God. We can see Satan’s hand in this whole mess. But it takes both sides. Not just us “not talking”, but our sisters and brothers listening, understanding, asking helpful questions, not justifying, rebuking and telling us “not to be anxious”, but committing to stand with us if stuff hits the fan.
To stand with those in our churches who may face deportation and whose families could be devastated because siblings, or parents or grandparents could be separated.
To use your resources, your influences, your connections.
To be family.
We are not of this world. But, we are to make a difference in it.
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
…Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world”
Philippians 2:1-7, 14, 15