The Marathon has Only Just Begun

If one more person tells me to get over it, to pray for and to support this man, I’m going to lose all facsimile of my cool. You don’t get to tell me that my tears and my deep, visceral concern for “othered” Americans is misplaced or unjustified. I imagine you’d feel differently if your wife, daughter, aunt, sister or grandmother were the one being grabbed by the pussy. Maybe you’d feel differently if you were a Muslim American who has been attacked since the election and told to get out of the country. Or perhaps you’d feel differently if you were a black student at the world’s largest Baptist University who got knocked off the sidewalk by a white student and told that “I’m trying to make America great again.” Perhaps then, you’d feel differently.

Most of the people telling me to get over it and pray for unity are Christians who live in white suburbs of Middle America. That sentiment is quickly followed by a frothy tagline like “God is still in control,” or “We have to believe that God will bring unity.”

While I appreciate the reminder, I already believe God is in control, albeit in a more organic and less culturally wispy way. I spent the weekend trying to distract myself from all of this, because it’s a burdensome cloud that darkens exponentially every day. I’ve watched three Harry Potter movies, about eight hours of Food Network holiday baking shows, and reorganized much of my apartment. Then, while searching online for something non-election related to read, I happened upon one of the leading thought leaders of the Christian community: Franklin Graham. Perhaps you know of him, his claim to fame is that he’s Billy Graham’s son. After the election, he tweeted: “I believe God’s hand intervened Tuesday night to stop the godless, atheistic progressive agenda from taking control.” So there’s that. Later in the day, a woman on my Facebook feed wrote, “God’s hand was definitely in this election.” Another woman said, “To God be the glory, the right man won.”

My response to Franklin and these two women who Trump wouldn’t consider hot enough to be a 10 is that you’ve never been more wrong, more misinformed, and more misled. I am not an atheist. I am a God-fearing, Christ-centric, Christian man. I feel sick in my spirit thinking about the fact that the dots you’ve publicly connected between Jesus and mankind now intersect with racism and xenophobia.

Frankie Graham later said to the Washington Post, “I could sense going across the country that God was going to do something this year, and I believe that at this election, God showed up.” Interesting. Clarify for me if you will, which god showed up exactly? The one who mocks people with disabilities? The one who builds walls to keep immigrants out? The one who won’t associate with people who believe differently than you? According to Frankie, that’s the god who showed up and that’s the god Christians were encouraged to vote for.

Frankie went on to attribute the red state win to “the God-factor,” which is a slap in the face to any Believer who has put their faith in the God of Love. Giving God any sort of glory for a man who embodies the antithesis of what Jesus stood for is the height of hypocrisy, but in today’s out-of-touch evangelical base, it should be expected.

Pastors all over the country prayed for unity on Sunday. They encouraged their congregations to support each other, to support the president and to let God be God. Yet, before the election, did they encourage their churches to fight the bigotry, hatred and separation spoken by their candidate? Most did not. So, I and so many others find ourselves in a predicament. I’m a proud American, I love the country I was born in, but I’m left sifting through friends and family members who voted red but claim they aren’t racists or homophobes. I’ve been told a dozen times, “I love my black friends. I love my gay friends. I love my Muslim friends.” But I’m calling you on the carpet, Believer and Friend of God, because your vote publicly declared otherwise. Your balloted endorsement says that none of the hateful things he spit out were deal-breakers, and that’s incredibly telling and incredibly shameful.

I’ve seen post after post from red state voters defending themselves against the accusations that they are part of the problem. They’re confused as to why their friends would be so angry with them and call them horrible names. While I agree that name-calling is never the answer, the blue voter anger is not misplaced. We voted for someone who would fight for us and you voted for someone who has openly decreed he will fight against anyone who isn’t straight, white and male. The lie that Hillary was going to personally abort your babies and force you to pledge allegiance to humanism while presiding over a gay marriage in your gunless Baptist church won. The rest of the country lost.

Knowing I’m not alone in this, I felt compelled to articulate myself, even if in a small way. On Facebook, I posted: “To my friends who are not straight, not white, not male or not Christian: I will never stop standing with you and never stop fighting alongside you.” I don’t expect anyone to comment on anything I post, I don’t think that highly of myself, but someone did and it read, “God calls us to love all people but not to support their agenda.”

That agenda he referenced includes only one bullet point: Equality for all Americans. So, if that’s the agenda you aren’t supporting, that’s good to know.

I’m going to allow my spirit to remain unsettled. Many of my black friends have said, “Stay woke.” After years of watching black people gunned down in the streets, they have fought and protested and cried out. The refrain, “Stay woke,” is a rallying cry to not let this righteous anger subside and to not allow the media to move on and forget that the issue hasn’t been resolved or rectified. To borrow their phrase, stay woke brothers and sisters. Stay present, stay alert, stay passionate and keep a marathoner’s mentality. This is going to be a long slog through our swampy country. All around us, people are bringing their most animal selves out of hiding and it’s up to us to remain a wave of hope, of optimism, and of love. The only talk about building a wall should be from us as we build an impenetrable wall of support for people of color, people of different faiths and people who love someone of the same sex.

This isn’t a simple political disagreement, this is a disagreement about the personhood of Americans, and for that, we will rally, we will protest, and we will fight for the dignity of all people, not just those sitting on the pew next to you nodding along to a placating and empty call for unity.

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