I write this to my Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim brothers and sisters.
I write to my Pantheist, Atheist, Deist, Theist and Agnostic family.
I write to my people who grew up without a faith tradition and find themselves somewhere along the spiritual journey.
I write to my people who are not sure how they would identify.
Our country is at a critical juncture. There is great divide and yet I am seeing more solidarity than I’ve witnessed in my lifetime (36 years). There is solidarity and love and support for movements that have been quiet for some time now. Perhaps they’ve been quiet because of a small hope that past administrations would help or because they didn’t feel pressured to move this strongly. Due to the influx of leadership and cabinet members, the people around them and who they have associated with, not to mention their own history, these movements are picking up the pace. Our marginalized brothers and sisters have decided to speak up with urgency, to proclaim their place, to yell from the mountainside of the importance of their cries and it is exactly what we need.
In a way, President Trump can help this country. He may just be the ignition switch for our rockets of hope and peace in America. It sounds crazy to possess such a bizarre thought – President Trump and “help the country” but it is possible. If you’re like me, you’re most likely thinking, “Could the President bring the country together by being so divisive?” Will his hate of the LGBTQ+ community lead Americans to stand up for our brothers and sisters? Will his lack of understanding of the struggle of the men and women of color in America lead us to ban together to make government listen to their voices and hear them?
I’m not sure but I am damn hopeful that this is what takes place. The worst thing that we, as humans, can do is sit back and be fearful to speak up and not do anything. The worst thing we can do is allow a fear of losing a job, or friendships, or family relationships, or whatever to control our place in the march with the oppressed, the forgotten, the marginalized.
Us – the people of America that are compassionate, loving, altruistic – we must be the drivers of change.
We shall live side by side with those the government doesn’t want.
We shall share our hearts, lives and love with the people the government says deems not worthy.
We shall pray with those the government has banned because they pray towards Mecca.
We shall be love, hope, grace and peace.
In a dialogue with Reinhold Niebuhr in 1963 after the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which resulted in the death of four girls, James Baldwin said, “I don’t mean to say the white people are villains or devils or anything like that. I do mean to say is this: that the bulk of the white… Christian majority in this country has exhibited a really staggering level of irresponsibility and immoral washing of the hands, you know… I don’t suppose that… all the white people in Birmingham are monstrous people. But they’re mainly silent people, you know. And that is a crime in itself.”
James H. Cone in his book The Cross and the Lynching Tree said this, “Baldwin’s condemnation of the silence of the Birmingham white majority in the face of the killing of children was similar to the speech of Rabbi Joachim Prinz (a refugee from Germany) at the March on Washington. ‘When I was a rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime…the most important thing I learned under those tragic circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problems. The most urgent and most disgraceful, the most shameful, the most tragic problem is silence.’ ”
Coming from a Christian heritage and spending a good portion of my life studying the teachings of Jesus, I want to speak directly to any Christians who may be reading this post. I believe followers of Jesus have a calling to stand for the oppressed. So please stop being silent. Stop holding your breath. Stop allowing your political affiliation sway your biblical interpretation. Forget your denomination lines in the sand.
Look at what is happening to people of color in our nation. Observe the heart of the LGBTQ+ community with a spirit of love. Put your patriarchal mindset aside and see the women of our nation as a strength rather than just societal and familial role players.
Then, speak up. Fight for our brothers and sister of color. Fight for the LGBTQ+ community to be loved. Empower and support your wives, sisters and daughters.
Do not be silent. The worst thing you can do is be silent.
To our Christian leaders – Pastors, Associate Pastors, Youth Pastors, Childrens Pastors, and the multitude of titles given to church leaders – you must be a voice for the broken. YOU MUST! Your congregation looks to your life, your words, your presence as a guide. If you are not standing with our brothers and sisters of the Black Lives Matter movement or marching in solidarity for women’s rights… If you are not joining the Muslim community in effort to show love and support while their family and fellow countrymen are being refused entry to the states, what are you doing? Silence cannot work for our congregations around the country and it can’t be an option from our religious leaders. Silence is acceptance.
Jesus led the revolution. He didn’t sit back and watch other people rebel against empire. Christ was the root of rebellion.
We have an administration who has come to power and is not only speaking in lies, but is attempting to create a country that looks nothing like one that would have a monument with the words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Regardless of religious affiliation, if you and I wish to be love in this world, we must do it in action. Sitting in our comfortable seats in church Sunday morning and singing of “his love forever” while people are being sent back to war torn countries where their chances of survival diminish is not love. Simply listening about the life of the disciples is too comfortable to be the Gospel.
The Gospel message has legs – it moves. The Gospel does not have a political affiliation because it wants to remove the walls of the empire, not build them.
Where will you be seen? When will you be heard? What sign will you make and carry? Who will you love today?