Essay

A Dear John [the Baptist] Letter

"The [American Evangelical church] has strayed too far. It no longer represents what I seek to stand for when I say that I believe in and live according to Jesus."

I read an article in the Washington Post this week about different demographics in America and their likelihood to believe America should take a leading role in supporting refugees. The big takeaway is that White evangelicals is the group least likely to endorse such a notion.

The post got only a handful of likes, and a couple comments from likeminded folks. That may sound like nothing, but back when protests of the Muslim Ban were taking place, I posted a photo from LAX to show my active and vocal opposition to the action. One photo in particular, of a little girl holding up a sign and wearing a batman costume accumulated 75 comments because people I attend church with saw fit to refute my support of aiding refugees.

I juggled debates with multiple people on this post, and yes: all of them were white evangelical Christians.

Refugee
Source

When I shared the WaPo article last week, I shared with the comment: there is something critically wrong with Christianity in America. No one disagreed.

Frankly, part of me is glad it stayed under the radar. Since Trump’s 2016 campaign- two years ago- I’ve endeavored to engage people I disagree with (many of whom I attend church with), in thoughtful and patient debate. I listen to and consider what they have to say. I empathize with their (supposed) value system as a “fellow” Christian, and I try my best to interact in such a way that we can both walk away with something to learn and grow from.

Two years later, I’m tired.

Not of treating people with that respect, that’s who I am, that’ll never change. What I’m tired of is talking to people about a religion and text that spells out tenets of love, compassion, patience and charity so plainly, but that people will excuse away when convenient and plant themselves firmly on when it suits their pride and self-righteousness.

Whether the aforementioned refugees issue, or respect for LGBTQ rights and tolerance, its unempathetic and obtuse stance on access to abortion, and the pervasive need for conservative white Christians’ to feed their martyrdom complexes (‘we’re the oppressed minority in this country because we can’t say Merry Christmas!’) while telling people of color to stop complaining about racism- or worse, telling people of color that pointing out racism and discrimination is ITSELF racist and discriminatory against white people (yes, that is an actual conversation I had with someone)-

I’m done.

This isn’t Jesus’ church. I can no longer identify myself as a Christian in America and have that convey any of the values I treasure and live my life in accordance with.

Yes, this is an issue of semantics. I still believe in Jesus. I still believe in living my life with patience, kindness, generosity and love for as many people as can be kind, loving and generous to.

As of today, I’m not longer identifying myself as a Christian. For years, anytime I have I immediately have to swoop in with a prepared rundown of the ways in which I’m not an intolerant/bigoted/self-righteous jerk.

I’m tired of arguing with “fellow Christians” about why being pro-choice is actually the more caring policy, because banning abortion only increases the rate of unsafe/illegal abortions, not abortion rates themselves.

I’m tired of arguing with “fellow Christians” that being open and willing to support refugees is absolutely the mission Jesus gave us when he told us by way of talking to Peter after His resurrection to feed his sheep and further to make disciples of all nations.

I’m tired of arguing with “fellow Christians” that hearing their “brothers” cry out about racism and discrimination is an opportunity to listen and show love, and that telling those people they’re imagining things, or that white Christians have it worse is the exact opposite of Christlike behavior.

I’m tired of that and so much more with the American church and overall body and organization. It has strayed too far. It no longer represents what I seek to stand for when I say that I believe in and live according to Jesus.

To the American Evangelical church: it’s you, and this is me. Peace be with you.

One comment

  1. Although I myself do not identify as Christian, I fervently agree with your analysis of the state of American Christianity, especially in the Trump era. I really appreciate your insight, and can feel the struggle and potential isolation. Hope all is well.

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