My dear, Christian friends, why are you silent?
I can't seem to get the question off my mind.
I, like so many of you, found my heart and mind in a tail spin on Wednesday when by a tweet our President declared a new military policy. A policy that called our transgender brothers and sisters "a burden." A policy that kicked them out of military service because of the "distraction."
I use the exact language of the tweet because words matter.
No one likes to be called a burden or a distraction.
We are all children of God. ALL OF US.
Though it is my personal opinion that crazy things happen in our current political administration every day, this particular twitter decree hit me hard. Very hard. Because it was another decision made by one person based in discrimination and hate.
It was a decision that goes against everything my faith stands for: unconditional love, the worth of every living thing and human dignity.
It was a decision that called out one group of people as "less than" rather than celebrating their citizenship and military service.
What do we do next? I admit it's so easy to direct our anger toward #45 isn't it? Say how we feel about him with like-minded individuals? It's easy to launch mean words into the webosphere and block people online (or in real life) who disagree with us.
But here's where I am: I will not be distracted by the anger toward him. He is what he is. I expect little change in his behavior throughout his time in office.
Yet, what I can be is curious about the movement behind this administration. I can be curious about people of faith who voted him in. I can be curious about those who think a sweeping ban of discrimination is ok.
In the latest Politico/Morning Consult poll, at least 1/3 of evangelical Christians said they "strongly approve" of how our President is leading the country.
This fact troubles me the most.
I follow lots of pastors and ministry types of all flavors online, folks that share my political convictions and those that don't. But these are all people I know who believe in the Lordship of Jesus and Jesus' call to love God and love neighbor as one's self. They love people. Or they wouldn't have gotten into the service business, I believe.
So this is what I am curious about: when a group of our neighbors faces discrimination- this week it's those who are transgender (this is one top of immigrants, Muslims, refugees, etc which have already been targets) and next week who knows who comes next-- why do they say nothing?
Pastors: why do you tweet only about your church visitor services programs?
Pastors: why do you post about how you're having a good day because you dried your hair?
Pastors: why do you tweet only about your vacations or what theology books you are reading?
Are you living in a bubble?
My heart aches when you say NOTHING about the sorrow that is felt in your brothers and sisters' households right. Some of our neighbors NEED us right now. They really need us. They need our voices. They need us to say what is going on in our country is NOT ok.
Because IT'S NOT OK.
I'm all for fun. I'm all for light-hearted moments both online and in person. We all need a break from the crazy. Eat ice cream. Go on vacation. Plan for fall programing in worship. And post about our fun on social media. BUT, when we never SAY anything about how what is going on is NOT OK, then those around us only have one choice. They believe we think it is ok.
Of course, the issue of supporting our transgender brothers and sisters is complex, especially in the context of religious life. This might be your current struggle. You don't know anyone who is transgender. It's hard to be a neighbor to someone you don't know.
My wise and brave seminary classmate, Theresa Thames who is now the associate dean of religious life at Princeton University said it so well yesterday on Facebook: "How can we be outraged with 45 when our denominations are debating whether our LGBTQIA siblings are of sacred worth - worthy of holy matrimony and capable of serving our congregations as clergy. WHAT A SHAME!"
Her post was a reality check for me because the truth is when people of all sexual and gendered identities aren't welcome fully in our churches because we're afraid of the "different" why in the world would we (as in the collective Christian "we") be advocates for them in the larger society?
Clearly, there's so much work to do in our business of being the welcoming congregations that we say we want to be!
But for now, my friends, speak up. If what is happening in our country is bothering, don't be afraid. Say so. Now is not the time to be silent. In the name of Jesus who always championed people before the rules of the empire, go forth and speak up!