Dear Evangelical Brothers and Sisters,
Your neighbors are grieving in the aftermath of the election.
… hold on, let me back up.
I am a post-Evangelical, a progressive Christian. Folks like me ventured away from the Evie camp for matters of conscience and theology. While we may have journeyed to the Left, we do not hold malice toward you. We are thankful for the foundation you gave us.
The grief that I and many progressives are experiencing right now is not rooted in some sense of party or generational entitlement.
It is rooted in the knowledge that people we love are scared.
In your circles, you may not be hearing why our grief cuts so deep. You may only be seeing vitriolic anti-Trump rallies, shaming campaigns, and plots to end the electoral college. Or you may be comforted by a flood of memes that say “Stay calm. God is in control.”
But these things are all overshadowing a sobering reality: many of our friends and family are utterly terrified for their personal safety in this moment.
Before I explain, I offer a confession
As a co-host of a progressive Christian podcast, I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of operating in an echochamber. Most progressive Christians I know bought into that echochamber. I glorified it and it became an idol; I ridiculed and demonized select neighbors who didn’t hold the same values as me. Those neighbors included you, Evangelicals. I ignored your concerns. I refused to work together. I and many others stopped talking with you, and now many of us are realizing how wrong that was. I reflect on this with great regret and I am sorry for my elitism and hypocrisy. In my refusal to try to understand you, I have contributed to our collective inability to reason together and find middle ground.
So let’s end the freeze-out and talk about this. I can offer some insight from my trenches.
Why are people on the Left grieving?
If you are inside the Evangelical algorithm, chances are high that your aren’t hearing about these kinds of things in your newsfeed:
- In marginal communities, in these days after the election, dozens and dozens of reports are surfacing that minority people are being openly and often obscenely harassed. Swastikas are coming out into the open in our communities. Lynch ropes and militias are showing up on college campuses. These incidences make me recollect footage from Trump rallies, while many times being peaceful, also revealed crowds shouting obscene and unsettling things. This took place under the leadership of a man who both incited violence and refused to denounce supporters who hold hateful ideologies — such as leaders of the KKK. In this election, I witnessed the rise of a new subculture where reviling others because of their race, sexuality, or religion is increasingly celebrated.
- LGBTQ crisis support hotlines are struggling to keep up with record numbers of calls. The fear is palpable from where I sit. Gay and queer people are being harassed actively. One of my friends, a gay married couple, had a note taped to their front door two days after the election that read, “Go away fags. God bless America.” This incident didn’t happen in the rural spaces of a red state. It happened in urban New England. It was one of many post-election expressions of hatred and violence toward LGBTQ people.
- Mosques around the country are having to worry about heightening security; harassers are singling out and punishing peaceful Muslims, invoking the name of Trump. Neo-Nazi leaders, emboldened by the sense of a rise to power, are encouraging verbal abuse, saying they “want [Muslims and immigrants] to be afraid.”
- People who have devoted their lives to studying and caring for the earth are afraid that new policy changes will speed up processes of devastation and waste, inflicting a greater amount of irreversible damage to the planet that gives us existence. This damage causes an increase in extreme weather patterns, creating unlivable conditions that are already resulting in mass migration, refugee crises, and global political instability.
- Policing of peaceful citizens, especially people of color, is slated to rise. Black communities are now more afraid of law enforcement than ever, as stockmarket investments in private prisons are skyrocketing, and promises are being made to expand police forces which have a history of institutionalized racial profiling. Black communities, already disproportionately affected by the criminal justice system, are full of fear at what will become of their families and friends under the effects of heavier surveillance. This means that our black and brown neighbors increasingly feel unsafe doing basic human things, like walking down the street or driving, because of the possibility of being stopped and frisked — humiliated or even harmed — just for “looking suspicious.”
- Families with undocumented members are terrified that their loved ones will be ripped out of their beds and sent away in the night — forced back to places of heinous crime and fractured economic opportunity.
I ask my Evangelical brothers and sisters to hold this list with me.
Hold it, and feel its weight.
Now, if you would, hold with us the fact that the fringe — the supremacist, violent folks who are resurrecting symbols of terror, threatening peaceful communities — are widely claiming they have been mobilized and inspired by the Republican victory to act out in these ways.
Evangelicals, I say this in all humility: if you voted for Trump, these folks appear to be on your team, they appear to be your allies. They now represent you — to us and to the rest of the world. Policies that marginal communities have good reason to fear are policies you voted into office. This is the legacy of Evangelicalism that history will remember.
I understand that it was important for you to vote your conscience on issues highly crucial to your theology, like Roe v. Wade. I understand that you didn’t trust Clinton. But please know that incredible consequences have already come to bear. Not just for disembodied symbols and notions of civil rights. There are consequences for real people and their ability to live in peace without fear for their basic human safety.
I ask you, my brothers and sisters who voted for Trump, to consider an important question that you taught me years ago:
What would Jesus do?
Would Jesus protect marginal communities? Or tell them to ‘get over it’?
Would Jesus befriend these communities, try to understand where are coming from and treat them as neighbors — loving them as His very self? Or hand them the dismissive, cheap grace of “I’ll pray for you”?
Would Jesus publicly stand up to violent people, and call on churches and friends to do the same? Or would he wash his hands?
Would Jesus preach, demand, plead, and cry out for love to be restored in our land? Or would he be silent?
The world is looking to you for leadership.
Melody Stanford “Mona” / Irenicast