Shaking the dust from our feet

Shaking the dust from our feet November 15, 2016

Katelyn Beaty, “I was an evangelical magazine editor, but now I can’t defend my evangelical community”

It’s a very evangelical thing to talk about what is in one’s heart. So: My heart beats even stronger with the faith that I embraced as a teenager. When it comes to the Bible and Jesus and evangelism and service, the 81 percent and I share the same DNA. Although recently I have wished it were otherwise, evangelicals are my people.

But this time, this election, I can’t defend my people. I barely recognize them.

It’s like the way you love your offbeat uncle — the one who rambles at Thanksgiving dinner about threats to his freedoms and political correctness run amok. You understand why he feels the way he does. You sympathize with him on many points. But when he starts in with racial slurs and sexist jokes and complaints about “illegals,” at some point you have to get up and leave the table.

Rachel Held Evans, “Life After [White] Evangelicalism”

The stark reality is that most white Christians, including more than 80 percent of white evangelical Christians, supported Donald Trump for president, despite his evident immorality, bigotry, and disregard for the dignity of women, (not to mention complete lack of qualification or competency). We’re about to witness firsthand what happens when the established Church compromises its moral authority for the promise of power, and it won’t be pretty. I predict millennials in particular will continue to drop out of religious life, and the ethnic divides within American Christianity, which many sought to heal with a quick-fix approach to “racial reconciliation” that bypassed repentance and justice, will only widen.

… The good news is that Jesus is already on the margins. Jesus is already present among the very people and places our president-elect despises as weak. When we stand in solidarity with the despised and the suffering, Jesus stands with us. We don’t have to abandon Jesus to abandon the unholy marriage between Donald Trump and the white American Church. In these troubled times, a prophetic resistance will certainly emerge, made up of clergy, activists, artists, humorists, liturgists, parents, teachers, and volunteers committed to partnering with and defending “the least of these.” I found my faith again in the margins.


If you belong to a white evangelical church that supported Donald Trump, then it’s time to go. (Or, for that matter, if you belong to a white mainline Protestant church that supported Donald Trump.) Don’t go quietly, but go. Now. You are not changing them, but if you stay, they will change you.

I don’t know your situation, your particular church. Maybe it’s not quite too late. Maybe you can still do some good there. It’s simple enough to find out. Stand up and stand out and speak up and speak out. And keep speaking out. If you get slammed back down, you’ll have your answer. You’ll know it’s time to go, and you’ll know how to go — by refusing to get slammed back down and continuing to speak until you get kicked out.

Make it memorable. Make it a story. It will be, after all, your last chance to speak directly to these folks, so don’t hold back.

Because, again, if you can’t change them, they will change you. They will — gradually and inexorably, and then all at once — make you like them. So guard your soul, preserve whatever capacity you want to have for loving God and loving your neighbor, and get out of there.

Maybe this talk of speaking up and speaking out makes you nervous. Maybe that’s not where your gifts lie. That’s OK. Write a letter expressing your concerns. Be specific. Follow up with another.

If that still seems like too much — if you feel like the only thing you can do is sit quietly in the pew, without challenging or questioning what you’re hearing — that’s OK too. Just don’t do it there any more. Go do that same thing in the nearest AME church, or black Baptist church, or in a local bilingual congregation, or at whichever local church near you is currently being attacked or vandalized by hate.

But the bottom line is this: white evangelicalism just showed its true self to the world. This is what it is. This is what it wants you to become. And if you stay, this is what you will become.

So it’s time to go. At some point, you have to get up and leave the table.

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