Church, we’ve got some explaining to do.
Last night America voted to transition from our first African-American President to a President whose campaign was marked with charges of implicit and explicit racism and xenophobia.
Former KKK “Imperial Wizard” David Duke claimed after the victory that Trump couldn’t have won without the support of “my people,” which, in this case, would be white nationalists and white supremacists.
Trump was also supported by a significant majority of the white church in America. White Christians, “alt right” white nationalists and white supremacists found themselves side-by-side pushing Donald Trump into the White House.
Now think about this:
The world is growing more brown. America is growing more brown. Global Christianity is growing more brown. More and more of our neighbors – those we’re called by Christ to love – are various shades of brown. And yet here we stand, white Christians, having just pushed a man into office who built his campaign on pledges to wall off and otherwise restrict the movements of brown people.
Look – I get it. Some of us feel scared. Scared of loss of rights, scared of loss of privilege. But as white American Christians we can only lose those things because we HAD those things. We have had dominant majority rights and we have had dominant majority privilege. Most of the world’s Christians, not to mention America’s many non-white Christians, have never had those things. To them, our whining about lost privilege seems pitiful. Dare I say, downright un-Christian.
How do I share the love of Jesus with a brown-skinned neighbor if I’m supporting their deportation? How do I share the love of Jesus with a refugee family if my fear prevents me from offering them help in the first place? And how do I carry the love of Jesus to ANY of the world’s brown and black-skinned people if I’m enthusiastically supporting a man who deals in stereotypes? Whose stated goal of putting “America First” is the exact opposite of Christian teaching? Whose favorite verse (“an eye for an eye” – initially a limit on human desire for excessive retribution) he interprets as a command to “hit back – and harder than you were hit?”
The world can be a scary place. But Jesus calls us to love first. To yield our rights. To put the needs of others before our own. To put the security of others before our own. To seek retribution – never. Our enthusiastic embrace of Donald Trump gives the world reason to doubt we really mean what we preach. I’m praying that our actions over the next few years convince them otherwise.
(Update: Quite a few of you have commented on this piece, which I appreciate. Based on those comments I’d like to clarify a few things. First, I’m not saying a vote for Trump was a “pro-racist” vote. Second, I’m not saying Christians should have voted for Hillary Clinton. I personally found enough wrong with both candidates to decline to vote for either, and this was true of many of my friends. What I’m saying is, fairly objectively, the Trump campaign was a populist campaign with some clear racist and xenophobic overtones. Those overtones created a space for more extreme views, such as the “pro lynching” t-shirts that began popping up at rallies and the enthusiastic embrace by white nationalist and white supremacist groups. While supporting Trump is not in and of itself a sign of racism or xenophobia, the association of so many white Christians with a movement seen by the world as racially tinged is creating a credibility issue for the American church. For a very eloquent perspective on this issue, read this piece.
Also, I’ve written a follow-up to this post, which you can read here.)