Posted by: minnow | June 17, 2019

Mourning

I woke up to heartbreaking news Saturday morning–both at a personal level and on a national scale. My friends’ trans daughter/niece was taken by suicide. I do not know what precipitated the suicide, if this kind and sensitive young woman had been assaulted or bullied, if she was tired of carrying the enormous weight of the current political and social climate in the US, or if she wrestled with a health issue, like depression. I do know any one of those options could be the case and the grief felt by her family and those who knew her would still be as deep. As for the other news, it seems Rev. Patrick Boyle was allowed to pretend he speaks for God while instead spreading hate at the “Make America Straight Again” New Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church conference in Orlando, Florida. Boyle’s type of preaching contributes to the toxic atmosphere rising in our country today. And, it’s really no surprise people are dying because of it.

I remember wondering, when I studied the Holocaust in high school, how it was possible for the people of Germany to be so callous. How could they watch while their friends and neighbors were rounded up, crammed into ghettos, later sent to concentration camps, and eventually murdered? But the truth is we don’t have to look far to find similar situations beginning to occur in America, right now. I’m not the first to make this comparison. Eye witnesses point to our southern border and cry out for the madness there to stop. We are caging children, ripping them away from their parents, and allowing them to die. Understanding how the holocaust happened in Germany is truly no longer difficult. The truth is, our own behavior before and during World War II is nothing to brag about. We did not begin to care about the Jews until pictures of emaciated survivors, piles of gassed bodies, and mass graves started showing up after the war. The truth is, our own lack of compassion turned asylum seekers away back then just like we are doing now, only back then we didn’t separate the children from their parents first.

Just like the Jews were not the only targeted group in pre-World War II Germany, the people¬† begging for refuge at our southern borders, while perhaps the most visible as far as the media is concerned, are not the only people at risk in the United States. POC, non-Christians–especially Muslims, and those in LGBTQ communities are also singled out for attack. Our own president uses vile names to refer to the refugee families at our border in order to dehumanize them. POC are accosted in public, sometimes by law enforcement but more often by ignorant white people embolden by the bigots they listen to. Right wing religious voices, like Patrick Boyle, Robert Jeffress, Franklin Graham, and James Dobson, routinely portray LGBTQ people as evil, dangerous, and even undeserving of life. All these leaders enflame their followers to hate and refuse to take responsibility for the violent results.

As people’s lives are threatened, as their security and freedom is whittled away by fear turned to anger and hatred, the name of God is sullied. While the Church remains silent, children are dying in cages. While the Church remains silent unarmed POC are shot down in the street by “peace” officers. While the Church remains silent LGBTQ people are assaulted, denied services, lose their jobs, rejected by their families, and ejected from the military. While the Church remains silent worshipers are shot in their mosques and their synagogues. While the Church remains silent, voices of hate lift up the name of God, spew their venomous rhetoric about these others, and pound new nails into the feet and hands of Christ. I do not understand the god they proclaim–it is surly not my God. But even more pressing–I do not understand the silence of the Church. And I cannot let silence have the final word.

Advocates for reform, like Martin Luther King, Tammy Baldwin, Elie Wiesel, Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, and the list goes on realized–realize–that silence is deadly. Silence allows evil to exist, to grow, and to gain power. Silence makes room for and contributes to trauma and destruction. Silence serves the tyrant and leaves the oppressed vulnerable. Some are beginning to stand up and be heard. An openly gay man and several people of color are running for president as Democrats. A few voices within the Church, like Rev. William Barber, John Pavlovitz, and Nadia Boles Weber, are beginning to break the silence. But if hate is going to be drowned out, If the redemptive love of God is to be lifted up, we must add to their numbers.

 

 

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