I woke up this morning – the day after the results were announced in the 2020 presidential election – with a sermon on my mind. I didn’t want to have a sermon on my mind. I wanted to sleep in. But 5am rolled around and it was there. And as it got closer to 6am, it was still there and sleep wasn’t. So I got up. I toyed with the idea of actually recording it, but decided I’d make it a Twitter sermon instead. Here’s the full text.
The editor of Faithfully Magazine, Nicola Menzie, asked this question on Twitter yesterday, “What’s the rescue plan for Christians and others stuck in MAGA and QAnon land?” Honestly, my first thought was along the lines of “F*@% them! Let them rot!”
Then I went straight OT. Literally. I pulled up Deuteronomy 21:18-21. It’s my favorite text of terror to hurl at “bad” Christians. I think there’s a version that uses the term “He’s a profligate and a drunkard.” So when I use this passage as a weapon against someone, I tend to use the SOA (i.e., StraightOuttaAtlanta) translation, “Die in your ignorance, you profligate and unrepentant muthaf^cka!”
I mean 81% of evangelicals AGAIN?! Early data shows that the majority every Christian group across the board – Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, etc. – voted for Trump. They didn’t care about the 230,000 US lives (and counting) lost to the coronavirus. They didn’t care about children being separated from their parents in a way eerily reminiscent of US chattel slavery. They didn’t care about bans on Muslims and comments about sh*thole countries. They didn’t care about the fact that the man lies as easily as he breathes.
As a psychologist, I tend to look at scenarios in terms of prognosis. And y’all, the prognostic indicators aren’t good. Trump’s supporters have ensconced themselves in a delusional worldview in which they are the faithful remnant and everyone else is out to get them. They accept any viewpoint – no matter how illogical and easily disproven – that confirms their bias. And they reject anything that disproves it. If I were in clinical practice, this is the type of client that I’d have to refer to some type of special therapy that I might have a hard time finding a local therapist skilled enough to do. It’s bad. So yep, hands washed. #NotMySheep
But y’all…I couldn’t leave it there. Being a sound exegete, I wanted to find a NT parallel. Isn’t there something in there about handing unrepentant people over to the evil one? Yeah, that’ll work. I went to Matthew 18, pretty sure it was in that passage where Jesus talks about handling disputes. Yep, there it is. “Treat them as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Wait, that doesn’t work. Jesus shared table fellowship with Gentiles and tax collectors. He invited them into his kingdom. What’s worse, the next passage is about the unforgiving servant. Literally. Damn.
Fortunately, I believe that forgiveness is a process so I’m in no rush to be granting it. I mean, some things just have to be worked out eschatologically. Sometimes you need to claim your power of binding some things on earth so that they’ll also be bound in heaven.
I’m not concerned with forgiveness. Or even the idea of rescue. But Angela Davis’ words are strong with me this morning, “Freedom is a constant struggle.” Even as I am celebrating, I know this ain’t over. I need y’all to know that too. Because I think a lot of people think that we can now go back to life as usual. But I don’t want “as usual.” I want liberation.
See, I know this group isn’t going anywhere. Trump will be their leader, White House or not. He’s going to keep holding rallies, keep stirring them up, keep trying to undermine the cause of justice and equality.
And if it weren’t him, it’d be someone else. Because Trump was never the cause of their ideology, just a manifestation of f it. They aren’t going anywhere. They never do. They occasionally retreat, but that’s only to regroup, to find a new strategy.
And they aren’t dying out either. It wasn’t just older people. And his support was actually stronger among the middle class, not poor Whites, so it’s not just a matter of education and income. This group adapts strategy to fit the times. When media started heralding the “browning of America,” they ramped up the Quiverfull movement to try to repopulate the country with ultra conservative kids. And they used popular culture to mainstream their movement via the Duggars tv show.
Their “intolerance” (to put it mildly) is not an accident. It is intentional and calculated and aimed at maintaining a White supremacist patriarchal Christian world. They see nothing wrong with that. So yeah, profligate and unrepentant.
But does someone have to treat these profligate and unrepentant muthas as Gentiles and tax collectors? As people who must be converted to the way of Jesus? If so, that’s White people’s unique antiracist work. More specifically, it is the work of White people who know that worldview because they have at some point been connected to it. It’s the work of White people who’ve managed to escape. #exvangelical
I know. Many of you have tried to do just that for four years. But four years isn’t that long. And frankly, your strategy was not…strategic. You’ve approached it as an individual issue. And maybe that made a little difference, enough to flip a few places. But it’s time to be as intentional and strategic and conniving as the opposition. It’s time to be wise as serpents.
White progressive Christians – even White moderate Christians – need a collective strategy for evangelizing their conservative kinfolk. You need to study their ways of spreading their message and develop an antidote to the virus that is White supremacist patriarchal Christianity. That’s your job.
What was that? What about me? Oh nah, my people been tried. They wouldn’t even listen to us when we told them we were human. I’m shaking the dust off my feet. #Matthew10 #NotMySheep
And if y’all try and try and try and it still doesn’t work, you need to shake the dust off your feet too. Cease fellowship. Yes, even with your kinfolk. Their racism needs to cost them something. And your commitment to antiracism needs to cost you something too.