Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Aftermath: A Way Forward For Of Us Who Still Believe In Basic Human Decency

This post is directed to those of my friends and readers who are committed to basic human decency, who oppose White Supremacy and refused to vote for it, who abhor rape culture and patriarchy, and who are, like me, wondering where we go from here. 

[If you voted for the White Supremacist candidate, well, take some time, read some non-white, non-GOP perspectives, and listen to people outside your bubble. I changed, you can too.]

This includes a number of different people I know and love. Those who grew up Evangelical like me, who either protest voted or voted (D) for the first time in our lives. People for whom our faith compels us to seek the good of our neighbors, particularly the least of these. People who take Jesus Christ seriously when he says our eternal destiny depends on how we treat the least of these. Non-religious people who have been gracious not to gloat now that they have been proven right about the moral bankruptcy of American “Christianity™.” People of all beliefs who have watched with horror as hatred enveloped our nation - and triumphed for now.

As the people who rejected hate, and who remain determined to protect the vulnerable against those who would do them harm, it is time that we come together, and do what we need to do.

So, we learned a lot of things this week. Let me list a few:

  1. We learned that racism and hate remain the driving force for a significant plurality of white Americans. I for one can no longer pretend that racism isn’t a defining reality in this nation. It is indeed our national sin. This was a “whitelash,” as Van Jones so memorably put it. It is a reaction against 8 years of a n-----r in the White House, and in a changing nation: one that is browner, more feminist, and less culturally homogenous.   
  2. In 2016, a narcissistic sociopath can run on an expressly White Supremacist platform, brag about assaulting women, and still win. And his racial views will be the reason he won.
  3. My religious tribe was the single most solid demographic in voting for White Supremacy. Whether it was out of actual racism or a willingness to look the other way, it is clear that for the most part (80%), we cannot count on them to protect the vulnerable or stand up against hate. They won’t. They just proved it.
  4. Basically, hate won this battle, a significant portion of our nation wishes to go back to the injustices of the past, and we have some real work to do to make the future better, not worse.

So here are a few things that have come to my mind through a mostly sleepless night.  

First, we need to remember that at least half of this nation chose to reject White Nationalism. That part should be comforting. There are also a lot of decent people - I know many of them - who have taken a stand against hate, even when it has meant blowback from family, friends, and church. We may have lost a battle, but we have a solid shot at winning this in the long run.

This election will have real, negative consequences for many people. As an educated white man, I realize that I probably will not suffer many of them, if any. I am not the target. Rather, the bullying and hate directed at my non-white friends and their children isn’t going to go away. As whites committed to opposing hate and White Supremacy, we need to assure our fellow Americans who happen to have darker skin that we have their backs. That we will stand up to bullies. That we will call out racism when we see it - even if it is our own family members and friends. That means we will seek to be allies even when our white fragility is threatened. That we will listen rather than dismiss.

Many of my non-white friends have expressed fear. We need to recognize that this is a reasonable, predictable, human reaction when someone who has stirred up hate comes to power. This fear is going to be particularly devastating among children. We should not dismiss this fear. But we can help calm it by showing solidarity. We have a responsibility to all children, not just our own. As Christ put it, it would be better to have a millstone around our neck as we sink into the sea than to cause these little ones to stumble. For those of us Evangelicals, we have a responsibility to do what we can to undo the damage our tribe has done. An African American friend pointed out - correctly - that the red baseball cap is the new Klan hood. He’s right. And we need to keep that in mind.

For those of us from Evangelicalism, we need to realize that at best, our tribe will look the other way when harm is done to vulnerable people. At worst, they will cheer. Cheer as 11 million are ethnically cleansed from our nation. Cheer as unarmed “thugs” are gunned down. Cheer as refugees from Muslim countries are denied access to our nation and harassed for their religious beliefs. Cheer as 20 million lose their health insurance. (This is the one I think is pretty much guaranteed to happen. Remember 2013? The GOP will absolutely go through with this one.) Cheer as denial of employment, housing, and health care to LGBTQ people and single mothers is celebrated as “religious freedom.” (This one is probably happening as well.) We cannot count on our fellow Evangelicals to do the right thing. They won’t. They will absolutely look the other way as people are harmed. At best. More realistically, 80% support policies that harm others.

For those of us committed to compassion to the poor, hurting, and downtrodden, we now realize we are going to have to do it in the face of stiff opposition from American "Christianity™."

Likewise, it has become obvious, to quote conservative writer Max Boot, that the GOP has now become “the party of conspiracy-mongering, authoritarianism, and white power.” I left the GOP in 2013 because of this. When I was a kid, it was entirely possible to be a compassionate Republican. George H. W. Bush could express his concern that we not stigmatize undocumented children, and express horror that the officers who beat Rodney King half to death were acquitted. The GOP is no longer that party, and I think the decent people are going to have to leave. Where that will lead me, I don’t yet know. I’m still basically center-right, so the Democrats don’t exactly match my views. They are closer to my beliefs about civil rights and basic human decency than the GOP, though. And don’t say “Libertarians.” Their platform calls for the repeal of Civil Rights laws. So, every bit as racist in practice as the GOP. I’ll think about this one.

For what it’s worth, both Evangelicalism and the GOP are showing signs of demographic weakness. The young folks are tired of their bullshit and toxic politics. (And even a few of us middle aged ones are too.) I believe this election is going to accelerate the exit process as young people continue to reject the injustices of the past, and seek to build a future that includes women and people of color in their vision for America and Christianity.

Because of this, we will need to cultivate relationships with those who will be our allies in protecting the vulnerable, helping the poor, the sick, immigrants, refugees, and the incarcerated. We will need to invest less in our bigoted acquaintances and family members and more in our friends of color, our LGBTQ friends, our liberal friends, our atheist friends. At least the ones who share our passion for human decency. To quote Christ again, it’s about whether we obey his command to love our neighbor, not our creed. That’s why He said “Surely, the prostitutes and tax collectors are entering the Kingdom of God ahead of you.” Radical stuff. Which is why it isn’t a popular topic in Evangelicalism right now.

In addition, as my wife helpfully pointed out, there are a number of people who right now are where she and I were about 10 years ago: still believing the GOP isn’t a locus of racism, believing the best about our fellow Christians. Some of these people will eventually take the same journey we did, and the more we can help them take that step, the better. We are not going to hate those still mired in error. We’re just going to bring as many along with us as we can, and do our best to ensure the rest are not able to prevent us from making a better world.

To that end, I intend to continue to write and do my best to persuade others. As part of that, however, I am going to have to shoot straight about some things. I don’t think we have the luxury any longer of ignoring racism. We are going to have to push back against it, even when it is Uncle Leroy talking smack about Black Lives Matter. This isn’t the time to make nice to people who have sided with evil. Be polite, yes. But don’t back down. The reason that White Supremacy has bubbled to the surface again is that bigots have been emboldened by a belief that they will suffer no consequences for spreading hate. After all, if White Nationalism gets you the White House, why not? We need to make people understand that bigotry - and silence in the face of bigotry - will be called what it is.

I know this is going to cause some uncomfortable moments. Particularly at family gatherings. But I have realized this election that silence is not okay. Silence in the face of evil is supporting that evil.

So, stand with and protect the vulnerable, and fight oppression and hate where we find it.

Whether we do this as a result of our compassionate humanism, or out of a desire to follow Christ’s command to love our neighbor, (this view has been dubbed “Christian Humanism,” and traces a line from Justin Martyr in the 2nd Century through Bonhoeffer in the 20th) we will share these goals and this vision. Regardless of our creed.

One of the best men of the 20th Century was Fred Rogers. He always said whenever there is tragedy, look for the helpers. The ordinary men and women who selflessly step in when evil is done. We need to be those people. There’s going to be hate out there. There’s going to be hardship. And we have our work cut out for us. 



***

Please read my Comment Policy before commenting.

Since this post is directed toward a particular group, I will not be accepting comments from anyone who appears to have voted for the White Nationalist candidate. If you want to know my feelings, you can read this post. 

Also, if you say, “but abortion,” I swear I will scream. As part of my commitment to speak the uncomfortable truth, I intend to write a series on the anti-abortion movement, its genesis in segregation, and its present use as a way to get otherwise decent people to support evil. (Also, I will delete your comment.)

I particularly welcome comments from people who wish to join me in building a better world, where hate and racism are not acceptable. Share your stories of what you are doing to further that goal.


36 comments:

  1. Keep your head up, Tim.

    I'm digging in hard with local groups in my surprisingly-racially-diverse-for-Idaho town, my church's outreach to poverty, and saying hi to the ladies in hijab whenever I see them at the grocery store, if by any means I can make them safe by my pale, family-been-in-the-US-since-the-Revolution presence. (Harder to harass the hijabi when she's chatting with the lily-white chick in the Boise State sweatshirt, I'm hoping. And yes, I will walk them to their car if I have to.) And I think I'm donating to my public health department, or a more targeted fund if I can find it. Internationally I think we're leaning towards donating for mosquito nets, and aid in Syria, but we're still trying to discern where help is most urgently needed.

    And I've got friends and families on both sides of the divide. I honestly empathize with both. Like your wise wife, I agree that it's important not to cut off relationships and lose the chance of dialogue. Today everybody is bleeding or dancing, but soon they'll sober up, and realize that we really do have to figure this out. At least, I hope so.

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    1. Rock on. There are people like you, and I need to remember this.

      On the depressing side, read the GOP plan for the 100 first days, and let the impact of all the hardship that will result to millions of people. It's going to be an impossible task to counteract the damage.

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  2. Thanks, Tim. There is a lot of work to do together.

    Three thoughts from my own experience:

    1. No matter how insignificant or shy one may be, s/he can wield their right to freedom of association. Don't stay or go where people are hurt. Don't encourage or support those who demean others through your presence, or giving, or purchases.

    2. Smile at those who look "different" from the majority in any way. A big smile, even without words, goes a long way to making people feel welcome and valued.

    3. If you feel that you no longer fit in with your family or friends or co-religionists, remember that there are 7 billion people on the earth right now. Surely you will feel comfortable with at least a few of them (though you might have to wait a bit to find each other).

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  3. Dear Lord I wish you were on my FB, just to increase the sanity quotient. It's all lit up today with people saying "we got sick of being called bigots so we voted against your candidate." Because God forbid you might do even the tiniest bit of self-examination to check if the other person has a point. Because if you did that, you might end up being wrong about something and maybe feel bad and have to change your behavior.

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    1. Hey, if you want to friend me, my name is on my e-mail signature. Just send me a note so I know it is you and not spam. By this point in our comment correspondence, we qualify at least as pixel pals...

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    2. I'd love to friend you. How do I know which of the people with your name is you?

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    3. Dana, since we too are practically pixel pals, and have e-mailed, go find one of my past e-mails, and search FB using that e-mail address. It should come up.

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  4. At the end of my undergrad in May I'll also become an officer in the military, and the discussions I've had with my equally leftward leaning friends in the last 24 hours have suddenly brought a serious point of our profession to the forefront.
    As officers our oath is sworn to the Constitution rather than the President, but we are still expected to obey the lawful orders of the Commander-in-Chief. In our ethics class sophomore year we talked about the steps to take if you morally object to an order given you, up to and including a refusal to carry it out and resigning your commission. I'm quite glad today I kept the books from that class.
    That being said, the consensus of our discussions has been that most of us got into the service to help people, as our way of giving back to a country that's given us so much, and the general consensus is that we will do our best to lead as we can and hopefully outlast whatever unpleasantness may come. However if it comes to a fight over whether my roommate's sexual orientation should disqualify her from serving, there's a good chance the fight I'd put up would cause the end of my career.

    Disclaimer: These are my own opinions and not those of the US Government or Department of Defense.

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    1. Yeah, unfortunately, I think this will be an actual dilemma for many upstanding military officers.

      Welcome to the blog, and thank you for your service.

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    2. I'd be worried too if I were in the military, given that said orange personage advocated for war crimes during the primaries.

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  5. Fiddlrts, I agree with you. We must push hard against actions against any minority--racial groups, religious groups, women, LGBT, and others.

    While we have supported these groups in the past eight years of an fairly inclusive government, our task is now even more essential. Equality and civil rights belong to everyone.

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  6. Yes. A'ho. Amen. Let us learn from the lessons of Standing Rock, that peaceful, prayerful resistance and full documentation can hold a line against governmental and corporate aggression.

    And I wouldn't give up on the "heartland" just yet. I grew up among such folk, on a ranch in Nebraska. They're mostly good folks. And more and more of them are beginning to see just how badly they're being bamboozled by Our Corporate Overlords; and they don't take kindly to being conned. I for one am keeping the communication lines to my friends "back home" open, so that when the heartland awakes, we can perhaps do something right and effective.

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    1. I'm going to keep the phrase "when the heartland awakes" close to my heart as I continue to pray through these hard days. Thank you.

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    2. You're welcome. Use it as often and effectively as you may. :)

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  7. I have so long enjoyed your blog. But your post today just horrified me. Have you spent time in with people who voted for Trump? Have you visited the rural Midwest and sat down and spoken with people. I didn't vote for Trump. But I also didn't vote for Clinton. If you voted for Clinton, and think that somehow makes you anti bigotry you are mistaken. I didn't vote for either candidate. Both are morally reprehensible. I remember when Clinton attacked the victims of her sexual predator husband. Clinton tucks herself away in a lily white suburb. Liberals run the most segregated school systems in the country. Yes some people who voted for Trump are racists. So are a lot of people who voted for Clinton. Plus liberal elitists like Clinton treat half the country like trash. Clinton ran on how great the economic recovery is. Yet it completely bypassed huge swaths of the country. When people are struggling to feed their family and they perceive both candidates as morally corrupt bigoted bullies, they are going to vote for the one who promises to get food on their table.
    I'm sorry if this sounds harsh. But I'm so frustrated with the progressive echo chamber I find people living in.
    You might choose to delete this. Although I did not vote for Trump. But I've listened to the people who did, and for the most part it's not because they are racists. And to preach that is to further the divide and give Trump more power.
    please, please listen to the people who feel so marginalized, so ignored, so oppressed the needed someone like Trump to lash out for them.
    One of the reasons that White supremacists are gaining ground is that people are being oppressed, and the progressives just laugh at them and tell them they are backwards privileged racists, because they disagree with their fiscal policies.
    The progressives can have condescending compassion for minorities rioting because of their legitimate oppression. But they refuse to have compassion for economically depressed rural people. Clinton treated them like Trash. And she no more deserved their vote than Trump deserved mine.
    Please, please open your ears! Open the conversation, listen!

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    1. I largely agree with you that there are decent Trump supporters. And I agree that the white middle class does have some legitimate grievances. With you on segregation as well.

      But none of that changes the fact that they chose (for whatever reason) to vote for a White Supremacist campaign.

      I also strongly believe that refusing to vote for either of the major party candidates is a thoroughly defensible position, and I applaud all those who did it. I would have probably gone that route if anyone other than Trump or Cruz had been on the GOP ticket.

      But all of those reasons you list still don't change the meaning of this election to those who are not white.

      Just this weekend, one of my teen and tween daughters' closest friends was asked when she would be deported. Ditto for the biracial teenaged daughter of a friend. Ditto for the retired Mexican American colleague while at the local bank branch. Ditto for the nephew of a musical colleague who has just come back from his 5th tour of duty. Ditto for the teenaged children of some other friends, subjected to multiple times at different places to racial epithets and threats.

      The best line I have heard about this: "I wish they understood that we’re not grieving because we didn’t get our own way, but are grieving because the nation instantly became less safe for so many– particularly for our kids."

      This is the experience of my non-white friends. This nation has become a far more hostile place for them, and they are hurting. And hurting a hell of a lot more than those merely facing economic hardship. I'm sorry to be harsh on that, but there is a world of difference between going backwards economically, and being subjected to racial hatred.

      I too have Trump supporters in my family. And most of them, at worst, voted because of self-interested reasons. Many did so because of party affiliation or abortion.

      But at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter why, with this kind of result.

      Many of us predicted this, that this kind of massive support for someone running on an expressly racist and xenophobic platform would result in harassment and violence against non-whites. I myself have tried to sound some warnings over the last year. But the bottom line is that overt White Supremacy is not a deal breaker for 80% of white evangelicals.

      If you want to take your own advice on this, and listen outside the bubble, here is a good start. This was sent to me by some friends from church who have non-white children who have had to put up with harassment and threats. This is the experience they are having.

      http://www.shannondingle.com/blog//i-want-to-help-you-understand-my-lament

      [Totally beyond the scope of this post, but also worth mentioning: 2016 GOP policies will certainly not benefit those who voted for them. If anything, the very people - rural whites - who turned out en mass stand to be further harmed by the cuts to social programs. But I guess they will have fewer brown skinned people in their towns...]

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    2. Tim S., only responding to your final paragraph in the brackets - Having lived much of my life among predominantly rural whites (by and large), I have zero (0, none, zilch) expectation that a multi-millionaire big businessman who was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth will actually know how, or even care, to do things that are beneficial to rural America in any significant way (not even considering the whole race issue). Just my opinion.

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  8. Thank you for this. Reading one of the White Supremacist's plans for his 100 first days in office is to create a registry of Muslims... If he goes through with that, I'll be registering also and encouraging others to do the same. It's one small way I can think of making it harder to discriminate.

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    1. This is a brave and noble idea. I will consider it myself.

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  9. Thanks for being so articulate on this topic. I grew up in the rural midwest, and many people whom I love voted for Trump. For the past 2 years I have taught in a large, diverse public school system. I have many students of color, many children of immigrant parents, several students with two moms, and several Muslim students. It has given me a much broader perspective on many issues. I am also a Christian, and figuring out how to balance truth and love is an ongoing learning experience for me. I wish that everyone could get to know people different than themselves so that they could more easily empathize. I hate how the actions of some Christians have made it less likely that others will want to know about Jesus. Thank you for the encouragement to speak up, even to loved ones. The challenge in that is how to do it in a way they can hear.

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  10. I have been thinking about this a lot after reading this piece, and lurking around in comboxes on various other blogs in which Dems are trying to figure out what went wrong:

    I think there is more going on here than racism and a "whitelash." This isn't to downplay the fact that Trump ran on a racial platform, or that he's given a voice to the alt-right and other hardcore white supremacist groups. That stuff is true, and it's horrible, and bad things are going to happen because of it. But from a statistical standpoint, the predictors of Trump support seem to be a bit more complicated than that. For example, the economic anxiety factor IS real:

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/trump-was-stronger-where-the-economy-is-weaker/

    Now it is true that you can't completely disentangle this from racism (esp. given Trump continually linking this to illegal immigrants from certain countries) - but to speak to what your wife said about those who will eventually take the same journey you did, people's stated motives do matter in this discussion. If they voted for Trump for some economic reason, I still can't condone that decision, but that shouldn't be treated the same way as an overt white supremacist going on about the dilution of the white race. If the person they're talking to insists against their stated motive that they really secretly agree with white supremacism or something similar, they're going to be much less willing to listen and might just entrench themselves further, instead of being nudged down a more positive path. (I think this can be true at the same time as a recognition that yes, they did ultimately make the choice to look past Trump's overt racism and that's definitely not good.)

    I had a discussion in a similar vein a day or two before the election with a FB friend. He ranted that Trump support might signal a shift away from democracy, because it could mean people want a demagogue to just suppress everyone who doesn't agree with them. Now I know full well there are people who do want exactly that, but when you get up to 47% of voters, that's not the actual conscious narrative going on in every single one of their heads.

    And obviously, none of this changes the fact that the macro level outcome of a decision to vote for Trump is going to be decidedly horrible.

    I am also bothered by the narratives going on in many places, treating the non-college voting bloc as stupid just because they don't have a degree. That's clearly wrong and not true. The correlation between non-college degree and Trump support is probably derived from the crappy financial/economic situations that usually result from not having a degree, not stupidity. (Trump will ultimately not be good this group, obviously, and he clearly doesn't actually give two figs about their welfare.)

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  11. I read an article on Slate yesterday that highlighted that Trump did fine with those groups he supposedly had offended - women, Latinos and blacks. That suggests that maybe race and misogyny weren't as big of factors as had been initially assumed. This theory meshes with the response I've seen personally on Fb, where I've seen comments like "It's amazing how if you call people racists and bigots long enough, they'll turn on you." and "Media ASTOUNDED at rural turnout! Guess they can't pretend that it's just liberal cities that matter NOW!"

    It's ugly, sure. But it also tells me that while these people are at best #2s, they sure as heck do NOT want to be labeled as #3s, and that continuing to do so won't get anyone anywhere better. For my part, I live in a state where nearly 60,000 voted for former Imperial Wizard David Duke this week. In fact, there is a current (underground) KKK presence in my city. Those people are true #3s. As long as they are visible, it's easy for the rest of the population to insist that they clearly aren't racist, because they're not publicly-avowed White Supremacists like so many of their neighbors. What they ARE susceptible to is accepting institutionalized racism, which is harder for them to see or question, and which happens daily. But accusing them of worse only alienates.

    So the Southern Christians apparently don't hate brown people, they just don't care - not enough to stand up to Trump's rhetoric at literally ANY point and say, that's enough. What DO they care about? My best guess is still power. But no one is saying that. What they are saying overwhelmingly is (according to my Fb feed) … Abortion. A vote for Trump was a vote for life. There's much to be said about evangelicals and Abortion (not least of all how Abortion is still a means of power), and I know you're getting to it, but here's the thing. Of COURSE I want my friends and family to just. simply. listen. LISTEN to history, to science, to reason on this apparently Only Issue. Because too much evil has been committed in the name of opposing it at all costs, not least of all in this election. If this is truly the defining Thing, the one final plank of the moral-political platform that managed to outlast the hypocrisy on every other principle… then maybe it’s worth actually understanding, no? Yet, I feel strongly that what they likely need even more in this moment is for ME to listen. Here's how I came to feel this way.

    Several months back, when BLM was front and center in the news, my evangelical church decided to host a Back the Blue event. I was stunned. I didn't think we should compel anyone to choose sides, but especially not to side with the powerful and privileged – the Bible said something about that, didn’t it? I would've hoped we would've instead held an event where we compassionately listened to those who, rightly or wrongly, felt oppressed, disenfranchised, and low-esteemed. I tried to be reasonable and think that perhaps it played out this way because of the actual police officers who were in the congregation. Maybe this was about showing love and support for them in a tense situation. Maybe if we had some black families in attendance, there would've been a similar outpouring for them. And sure, maybe. But, not. Because there weren't any black families, or individuals, at all. Just middle class whites. This being the South, the church came by its lily-whiteness honestly - the town is extremely segregated in neighborhoods, schools and churches. But you didn't have to sacrifice your "property values" or your children's "education" or your physical "safety" to hear the other voices and witness the other experiences on this one - you could hear it and view it on the news from the comfort and safety of your brick-walled subdivision. So why was it so hard to LISTEN?

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    1. I have seen it pointed out that if someone objects to "Black Lives Matter" with "All lives matter!" but is okay with "Blue Lives Matter," it's clear their problem is with the word "black."

      As for abortion, I shouldn't have to point out to my Trump-voting Christian friends that Jesus said exactly nothing about abortion of which we are aware, that the Bible nowhere bans it, that the OT punishment for causing a miscarriage is a fine, while the punishment for murder is death, that Numbers 5 describes something that sure sounds like an abortion brew being given by the local priest, etc -- but that Donald Trump pretty much personifies every single thing Jesus spoke against. Why is it that I, who no longer considers herself Christian, knows these things, but they don't seem to?

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    2. I'm thinking it is going to be necessary to write about abortion at some point.

      One of my watershed moments was finding Paul Weyrich's admission that Abortion was always meant to be a political ploy to guarantee Evangelical votes in favor of pro-segregation policies. And DAMN, it worked well this election, didn't it?

      Excellent points, Dana.

      I find it distressing that Abortion is considered "The Only Issue That Matters(TM)" but that there is a deafening silence on the issue of immigration. Which, considering Jesus Christ himself said that turning immigrants away was how you got yourself sent to hell, seems mighty important, yes?

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  12. All that to say... My rural evangelical neighbors are asking to be listened to now. I don't want to listen to them. But, rightly or wrongly, they feel oppressed and disenfranchised and low-esteemed. If I'm going to not be a hypocrite, I need to listen. Not debate. Not hold my tongue for 5 minutes so I can say my piece, but LISTEN. This is tricky, because I don't want to give airtime to more half-baked partisan talking points. And I don't want the church to become even more self-centered. I thrill when I read that "Christ saw them and was moved with compassion, because they were dispirited like sheep without a shepherd." But I wilt when I think of applying this to a self-absorbed church that DOES have a Shepherd they just can’t be bothered to follow. But are they dispirited? Yes. Does Christ still look at them? Yes. Is He still moved to compassion? I certainly hope so. And so if I want to be like Him, I need to learn what it is to be His eyes, to see people as He sees them. To be His ears, to hear them as He hears them. To be His heart, moved with compassion.

    It feels so ridiculous of course. So many other people are in genuine need. They aren't just dispirited, they are dying. The church already receives a disproportionate amount of attention and ta-ta-ing. And their self-righteous lack of compassion towards others who are upset right now is absolutely infuriating. I don't relish the idea of indulging this last gasp of post-privilege panic, this one last grasp at former glory and power. But I know this: refusing to listen on the basis of THAT’S RACIST won't work - for sure, not here in the South. They already feel the scorn of a nation and culture quite acutely. Doubling-down won't alleviate that grievance. I don't want to prop evangelicals back up into the power they desire, but I don't want to force their noses into the dirt, either. Simply listening, I think, is the best I can do there.

    I have observed many times with my fellow disillusioned Mills and Xs that Christians shouldn't be so appalled when they aren't honored in society. Those who are lately becoming more powerful and esteemed in American Society, after all, are only following the (positively wretched) example that the Christians modeled when THEY were powerful and esteemed - that of divisive discrimination, that of overstepped authority, that of forced agendas, that of Us vs Them. Anyone can be forgiven for assuming that the new powers that be are just doing what they were taught best.

    It would've been nice if evangelicals, while they were miserably convinced that they were forsaken and disdained for the past 8 years, could've set a better example for the "lowly and outcast" then they did. They didn't, instead stewing about what they deserved and were entitled to and what was owed them. Today, they believe they have been vindicated. They are back on top. Those who are now back in their proper place as the lowly and out-cast are now fretting and fearful, following that same example the Christians were setting up until Tuesday. Is that good enough for the Christians? Heck no. Those people are self-absorbed children! They think the world owes them! Have you ever seen such an entitled tantrum? (Uh yeah, like every Sunday for the past decade.)

    So now what? The Christians once again will set an example, but what will it look like? They believe they are in power again. I believe they have been played for fools and are in for bitter disappointment all around, but let's pretend that they are, in fact, restored. It seems obvious to me that they are fully prepared to resume their former abuse of that power in pursuit of their own interests. But it doesn't have to be that way – it can be different. But the time to think about setting that course differently is now, and it is so brief. If we refuse to be the ones who will start those conversations, I do not think they will happen.

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    1. Great comments, R. I am realizing the same thing and how hard this is going to be...not least because of the anticipatory knowledge that so many will continue not to listen/care. But there is a percentage that will - hopefully not as small as I fear it is...

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    2. Thank you for your comments, R. They were very insightful. Having lived some 6 years in the South, I hear what you are saying. I've been frustrated too by the "poor us" attitude American Christians have been showing for very minor "persecution". It still perplexes me that people who read and preach the Bible (allegedly) will still play the victim card when they are "counted worthy to suffer for his name" (Acts 5:41) to even a small degree. Abusing power will only intensify the contention, and we are supposed to be the representatives of the Prince of Peace. When James and John wanted to rain fire from heaven on the inattentive Jesus roundly rebuked them!

      My husband and I also anticipate that there will be a lot of disappointment - at least we hope that those Christians who followed the piper will have the grace to be disappointed when things run amok. At this point I'm not sure what to expect.

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  13. I don't have time for a long comment, but just three cents.

    You said that at least half didn't vote for white nationalism. From the statistics I saw it was a lot more than that. Almost half of the voters didn't even vote - my husband and I included. (I'm risking saying that here since this post is on basic decency.) So, with the almost 1/4 who voted for the D. candidate, that gives you something between 2/3 and 3/4 of the voting population who didn't vote for it. Just sayin'... That should give you some encouragement I hope.

    Some people try to claim that "the great white hope" isn't really racist but has been misunderstood. Without going into a debate over that, my thought is that even if he isn't (disclaimer), there is a rabble rousing element to what happened, and the rabble is very hard to control once they are roused - even for someone with good intention (disclaimer).

    I live in a county in Texas where the first successful lawsuit was ever won against the KKK. This was done by Dan Moody at the Georgetown courthouse. Strange to say, I'm pretty sure this county voted for "the great white hope" by and large. Some things just don't make sense.

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    1. I also don't notice a tremendous amount of racism right around where we live. In fact, there are Arabic people who are active in our local town and community.

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    2. For what it's worth, a protest vote or abstention is thoroughly defensible. And yes, that is encouraging.

      Good points about the rabble being hard to control once roused...

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    3. Thanks for understanding about the voting issue. Some Christians seem to think that you're almost a heretic if you don't vote. My own family was actually shouldered out of a church for not voting one year when it would be "the end of American" if _____________ didn't get elected. Ho hum.

      By the way, my husband and I have also run across the whole blindness to racism thing with baby boomers. We're really puzzled about that too.

      On the other hand, I've seen one man I wouldn't have expected to do so un-apologetically announce on Facebook that he was voting for a non-mainline candidate. In visiting some blogs that I check in on occasionally, I saw some real determination to follow Christ without reference to the typical Christian political right nonsense, and in one case a commentor who plainly said that she had stopped listening to all the famous Christians' political rhetoric and was clinging to Jesus and His word alone. I was quite encouraged.

      If there is one good thing I hoped for from this election cycle it was to see some Christians finally realize that it isn't going to work to choose "the lesser of the two evils" because the lesser one is still evil. I can honestly thank God to see that happen.

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    4. It has been encouraging to see some of those. On the one hand, some relatives and friends were disappointing, but on the other, it has been nice to see a number of them start to really see and understand the level of racial hate which still exists. As my dad put it, many Christians appear to have decided that an increasing number of people aren't their neighbor. Fortunately, others are rejecting that, and embracing like never before.

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  14. I've been reading you blog for quite a while now--it's on my bookmarked list of favorites. Your series on Modesty Culture was amazing; I was homeschooled in the Southern Baptist bubble for most of my life and saw so much of the nastiness of purity culture play out for my peers. I was fortunate to have a father who tamped down my mother's more fundamentalist urges.

    As one of the growing number of millenials who has left religion and stares back at that world in horror, you absolutely hit the nail on the head with this post. I know my evangelical in-laws voted for the white supremacist cuz abortion. They clearly do not give a crap about racism (see: huge uproar we had when I called them out on their racist comments about "how nice it was to see an educated black person on TV" after silently enduring 10 years worth of snide comments about sagging pants, lack of worth ethic, and their general moral failing).

    This election couldn't have come at a worse time, frankly. Just a few months ago my husband and I finally came out his parents as agnostics/atheists, and the fallout has been spectacular. I guess the latest proselytizing technique is guilt and rage? I'm a little out of the loop on those things these days...

    Anyways, I just wanted to say I'm grateful for your perspective. These days it's so easy for me to paint all Christians with the same foul brush, and I need reminders that there are decent people on your side too. I am curious though--why do you remain a Christian? You strike me as one of the rare people who could give a coherent answer to that question :-)

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    1. That's a hard question, isn't it? I remain a Christian because I find Christ to be inspiring. I wish to be more like him, and build his kingdom. I would imagine that many can share my desire to see the world be built more on "Love your neighbor as yourself" and "inasmuch as you do it for the least or these, you have done it to me." I believe that mankind is made in the divine image, and that we are called to seek to benefit, not harm, those outside of our tribe.

      I believe in transcendence, and our human desire to do so. While admitting that I am biased because I was raised Christian, I find that Christ and his teachings best resonate with my desire to be one with the divine.

      I believe mankind is broken, and in ways that cannot solely be explained through Darwinism (although I do believe evolution best fits the evidence we have). I believe the dark human desire to harm others just because they are other goes beyond mere tribalism, and that the idea that humankind chose darkness rather than light to explain what we see.

      I believe that music moves us (even though music is unnecessary in a Darwinian sense) because of our need for transcendence. Arts of all kinds resonate with us because we are more than mere animals, intent on reproduction.

      I believe in love. I believe love is the most powerful force in the universe. And I believe that God is love.

      You might notice this is not a doctrinal statement. Probably the best I can do on that front is to quote the Nicene Creed.

      To go back to something else you mention, my wife and I too have had difficulty with my parents because of our rejection of Fundamentalism. I think that a significant part of that is that when you build your life and very identity on a particular idea, when your kids reject that idea, it feels like a rejection of you. So when my wife chooses to work outside the home, that feels like a rejection of my mother, who stayed home - and drew her identity from that. Perhaps for your parents, they realize they have failed at what they believed was most important, and your rejection of their religion is - to them - rejection of them and their core identity.

      Definitely some sympathy there. It's hard and it doesn't necessarily get better or easier.

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    2. Thank you for your beautiful and heartfelt reply. I find reasons for faith like yours far more compelling than any logical appeal or statement of doctrine. I too believe in the transcendent beauty of art and music and the deep power of love across all mankind. The secular humanists would be glad to have you if you ever want to come over to the other side ;-)

      I appreciate your sympathy with family issues. You are definitely right that, to them, our rejection of faith feels like a rejection of them and all they hold dear. No matter how many times we say that's not the case, it's hard to battle those emotions. My husband is facing the very real loss of his parents in his life, at least for the foreseeable future--a turn of events neither of us expected.

      Keep speaking the truth and fighting the good fight! I imagine it gets lonely and discouraging out there at times, and I wish you strength and courage to carry on.

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