America: where it takes a Muslim Killing homosexuals for Christians to view the LGBTQ community as people.
Many Americans are (in my amateur opinion) experiencing a severe case of Anxiety Separation. Get the image of a toddler throwing a tantrum because mommy left them with the sitter out of your head. This anxiety is the result of a come to Jesus moment: America no longer looks like the America of the “good ole days”. Back when America was “great” those of us on the margins of society lived huddled in our respective corners; we bowed in fear and accepted the indignities we were dealt. That America is dead! I don’t know exactly when It died, but the rotting corpse of a separatist society tied to the legacies of white supremacy, patriarchy, and religious purity is on display for anyone who chooses to look at it. The realization that the future promises even more diversity has pushed some of those clamoring for the good old days to their breaking point. Without some violent reactionary response to the racial and cultural shifts in our society people of color, women, religious minorities, and homosexuals will be the future symbols of America. This makes me smile. After 41 years of living in the south I appreciate the symbolic seat at the table, but the demographic path we’re on almost guarantees an end of the crony tokenism that passes for diversity.
Evangelicals are my favorite subsection of reactionaries. Their fear of the “other” appears to be greater than their love for Jesus. Being an ordained member of clergy in the south has exposed me to some of the expectations many Evangelicals have for the “other”. If you’re a woman you should be submissive, if you’re a homosexual you should be closeted, if you’re black you should be acceptable: not to outspoken and willing to conform to the white normative gaze, and if you’re of Hispanic decent or Muslim you shouldn’t be here. Dr. King’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” was written as a response to this type of Christianity, yet 53 years later fruit from that wicked tree continues to ripen. Westboro Baptist gets the headlines, but they aren’t the only church with a warped hermeneutical reading of scripture. Instead of embracing a theology centered on love these churches practice religion based in fear. It’s analogous to the force in Star Wars: hatred and fear make the dark side of the force seem stronger, but it’s an illusion.
The Evangelicals I’m referring to champion the most ungodly of attitudes and actions when they originate from someone who looks like them and validates their fears. On one side of the brain these folks despise Kanye West and Cam Newton for being loud and arrogant while the other side of their brain embraces those same characteristics in Donald Trump. This is a real phenomenon; mention Kanye West to an Evangelical Trump supporter and listen to the adjectives they use to describe him and his behavior. The ironic nature of the conversation almost always eludes them. The fact that so many prominent evangelicals have thrown their support behind Donald Trump’s brand of racism only comes as a surprise to those ignorant of what these churches have been selling over the years. Some of the worst responses to Barack Obama’s presidency I’ve heard came from the pulpits of “good God fearing Americans”.
Ronald Reagan had to beat around the bush to say what Donald Trump proudly shouts. “Make America Great Again” is, and has always been, a rallying cry for those troubled by the changing demographics in America. The only group that’s worked harder than Evangelicals to defend their xenophobia and racism are northern liberals who believe their anger and fear is rooted solely in economic hardships. Some liberals will admit that there’s a segment of Trump’s supporters who embrace this kind of thinking, but many refuse to accept the fact that they’re not in the minority of his movement. I wonder what a Venn Diagram of Trump supporters would look like. How much overlap is there between the White Nationalist movement and Evangelicals? I know every Trump supporter isn’t a racist, but I don’t pretend like he isn’t the preferred candidate of proud White Nationalist everywhere. If you really want to mess with an Evangelical, ask them what plank in the Trump political platform most aligns with the teachings of Jesus?
The Orlando shooter used guns to do what many right-wing politicians and much of the Evangelical community have attempted to do with legislation: he eradicated homosexuals because it was easier for him to strip them of their flesh and blood than live with them. the LGBTQ community is a temporary part of the American fabric, but don’t be fooled. I know the Evangelical community: this is only a grace period. Before you know it Bible Belt politicians will show up at churches promising to strip them of their rights in exchange for votes. A mother knows after a few minutes, and a well-timed snack that their baby will be aright; I’m not as confident in the American people. If the church was two people, they would have broken up by now. The stated principles in the Bible are (and have always been) at war with the resentment and fear inside of too many. Too many churches drop the ball when it comes to calling out racist, homophobic, and misogynistic behavior. “Hating the sin and loving the sinner” is a tired trope. What do you do when the “sin” is a fundamental part of the person? How can you call yourself a church if the litmus test for salvation includes a brown paper bag?