They want us to be quiet. Peaceful. Gentle. They want us to be Ruth in all things. Where you go, I will go, and your god will be my god, whether it is anti-Semitism, anti-blackness, anti-refugee, anti-immigrant, anti-Asian, anti-lgbtq, or anti-healthcare.
Where you go, I will go and your god will be my god, the conservative Christians say to the Republican party. They do this peacefully, quietly, especially the women, as if the lack of anger is proof of moral character.
They hold most of their beliefs loosely, convinced that they are merely opinions, and therefore inconsequential.
But they aren’t merely opinions. Believing that people don’t deserve equal protection under the law is not just an opinion. It is a belief that governs how the holder votes. The results affect people’s lives.
Believing that refugees are infiltrated with terrorists is not just an opinion. It is a wrong belief based on nothing factual. And those beliefs have devastating results.
We have a mass of white Christians who have illogical, nonfactual beliefs that are killing people, and these are not outliers of the evangelical church. They are central to what we mean when we talk about American Christianity.
I don’t understand why you march, they say quietly on Facebook. Why is everyone so angry all of a sudden? Why do they throw words like racist around? Why is there so much name-calling? Peace, peace, they cry, when there is no peace. Why can’t we just agree to disagree?
They allow us to have our opinions, but god forbid we have them in the street! We can disagree, they say, but leave the hate and vitriol at home, and oh by the way, even if we voted for a racist person and agree with his racist plans, if you are calling us a racist , you are a mean and hateful who needs to apologize. Why can’t we just all get along? We’re the church, we’re one body, why are you so intent on dividing us and causing conflict?
How can we get along when one part of the body is dead set on living and voting in ways that directly oppose Jesus? Using accurate definitions and words is not hate, and being angry isn’t a sin.
Anger is not a sin!
Anger indicates something is tremendously wrong. Anger at people who hold deadly beliefs and retreat into the protection of ‘opinion’ is justified. They are using their power to oppress and then deny the strength of their will.
Holding Christians accountable for their actions is not wrong. Holding Jesus’ words up as a mirror to them is not being divisive. Supporting an unqualified tyrant and his stooges, and allowing them free rein is divisive. That is the source of the hate and oppression.
There are Christians out there who are afraid to make waves because….who knows why. They don’t like conflict, they have money and book deals on the line, they have been taught to value silent complicity and gentleness….but we need their voices.
We need the people who quietly believe in human rights for all people to stand up loudly for them. There are white people out there who hold beliefs that help, not harm people. Who believe in equality and human rights for everyone. There are white people out there who have allowed themselves to be strangled by the respectability politics of whiteness, and you need to cut yourself free. Here is a pair of scissors.
Gentleness and meekness is not the answer. People who unashamedly believe fake news and think ignorance is a virtue are not going to be convinced by your peaceful and loving heart. Refugees will not be saved because of how well white people ‘love’ each other. Healthcare will not be saved by a Christianity that refuses to enlarge its definition of pro-life.
Calmly sharing an ‘opinion’ on Facebook that says you support human rights is great, but it’s not enough. Because you aren’t just sharing an opinion. You are sharing a belief system that (in one way or another) informs how you vote, how and where you live, go to church and school, and how you spend your money.
Believing in human rights — being fully pro-life — is not just a belief. It is a way of life that requires sacrifice. What are your beliefs costing you? What are you willing to lose? Where is your passion and how can your convictions about human rights be infused into it?
We need more white people, white Christians to stand and refuse to buy into the myth of gentleness and peace. White Christian women leaders have power and influence, even if they have been taught not to embrace it. That power needs to be wielded well. It is not enough to make a public statement. It needs to inform your conferences, your workshops, your books and Bible studies.
There is plenty of Bible to justify support for human rights (since conservatives apparently can’t just lean on a humanitarian defense).
When you gather with your white, middle-class Christian women, you need to put yourself at risk. Speakers and attendees. Speak up boldly for the refused and excluded. Speak against brutality and denial of rights. Advocate for people and organizations who are already on the ground doing the work. Instead of selling cutesy t-shirts with feathers and a phrase in Bonjour font on them, let people donate to the ACLU or the National Immigration Law Center.
Just ‘having an opinion’ that all humans deserve rights and safety is not enough, and we need to push back on the idea that the social differences in the church are merely different opinions that are equally valid. A belief that humans do not deserve equality and refuge is not the same as the belief that says they do. We are not cups of coffee that can take or leave a splash of cream.
We need boldness, and even anger. We need to hold Christians accountable, and we need to lay waste to the idea that the only good Christian is a gentle one.