bad religionNovember 28, 2016
You ask me why I cry.
You say you don’t understand why I can’t just get over it. You say I need to move on and trust God. He’s got the country, and the world, in His hands, you say.
And as you speak, I’m a kid again. I leave candies for the tooth fairy. The world is simple, and I’m sitting, criss-cross applesauce in Sunday School class, singing about how Jesus loves the little children, black and yellow, red and white—they’re all precious (though “equality” isn’t spoken of) to Him. My world is small, easy. I haven’t lost anything, I haven’t failed at anything.
But then, just as you remind me not to worry, you stop. Your words hang in the air, floating in a space halfway between genuine care and a worrisome disconcernment. You look at me expectantly, waiting for me to nod my head and agree. You want me to let my faith guide me. You want me to just go to church or something, to forget what’s happened.
And for a minute, I want to as well. To fall back into that old familiar comfort of not worrying, and just giving it all to God. So, I pray. I hide myself away for hours, praying, crying, and seeking truth. And now, now I know why I’ve felt so tormented these last couple of weeks.
It’s you, and your hypocrisy. You, telling me God’s love will save our country, while an accused rapist prepares to take the helm of our homeland. You, spouting bible verses while taking part in derogatory Facebook posts, laughing at people’s tears. You, believing in the redeeming love of Christ, while angrily telling me and my friends to “grow a pair” and “get over it.”
Because you’re the ones who elected this man. You claim you were “morally torn” over this election, yet when it came down to it, you cast your ballot, and you elected a man who you knew was wrong—but hey, maybe he’d lower the number of abortions, right?
You are the ones breaking my heart, not our President-elect.
Because I was raised to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, the rules of religion have never really been a part of my DNA. I grew up going to church, of course, but the overriding theme of my Christianity was love, period. Not love just to my family, or love to the people who look like me, think like me, worship like me. Love, period.
Perhaps the greatest example of love in my life died of a tragic love underdose. My dad, a living, breathing, teddy bear. He emanated everything good in the world, gleaming a kind of pure love that I could only hope would one day pour out of me as well. But then, his demons got the best of him, and he was gone. A bottle of tequila on his bedside table, his vices smirking with the joy that, for now, they’d won. And for now, hopelessness and hate have won again.
Ignorance has the tendency to lie, though, and the battle isn’t over.
Because just as I have dusted myself off after the death of my father, so will this nation, after the election of our future President. I mourned, and we have mourned, rightfully so. But when I lay in bed after the funeral, when I shut my eyes and held my breath, willing silence and darkness to overcome me, I felt something. A warmth overcame me, and I knew He was with me. He told me, “I’m not done,” and I breathed again.
So now we ready ourselves to fight an even bigger fight. A fight that none of us saw coming, or maybe I was just naive. Because in my world, Christianity meant love. But after this election, “love” is about the last thing I’ve seen from my so-called “Christian” family and friends.
Let me preface this by saying that while I may post political, personal posts on my Facebook, I’ve never been one to engage in Facebook comment wars, although admittedly I do enjoy reading them. However, my heart couldn’t take the amount of hate I was seeing from fellow Christians online, and I had to do something, say something. So, I commented. I attached intellectual articles, think-pieces, and studies, but still, I was called “brainwashed.” And with that comment, and the plethora of others commenting back, attacking anyone opposing Trump, my shiny world of love and joy and understanding came crashing down. And just like that, I began losing my religion in Trump’s America.
Because I saw the potential his administration brought. Regardless of whether or not he does half the things he’s said he’ll do (he’s already backing down on many “promises”), he has ignited a spark of hatred in our nation. Now, people feel that it’s okay to shout out “Trump won! Go back to Africa!” to innocent people on the street. Now, white women in coffee shops feel comfortable calling a mother the n-word in front of her autistic child. Now, people laugh at others’ tears. Now, I see no religion. I don’t see my God.
Because my God cares. My God looks out for the marginalized, for the oppressed. He doesn’t accuse them all of being terrorists, rapists, thieves. My God loves me so much that He gave me His son, to be my Father in the place of my own. My God shielded me after my rape just one short year ago. When I stopped being myself for too long. When I stopped being innocent. He wrapped me in His arms, and as my heart thudded with a more persistent anxiety than I’d ever had before, My God whispered in my ear, “I’m not done,” and I breathed and showered and got dressed and lived. My God did that. My God, my religion, didn’t do this. He didn’t allow hate and anger to become the rhetoric of our nation. He didn’t roll His eyes when people mourned, and rightful fears began to take over.
You’ve posted your “hilarious” memes about Hillary being a “killer.” You’ve believed a man, just one man, would fix our country. You stayed silent as he talked, no, laughed, about grabbing women by their vaginas—even when I, your sister, your cousin, your granddaughter, told you about what happened to me one night, when “locker room talk” turned into action and I was never the same. You said I didn’t understand, I was too young. Yes, I was too young, I am too young, to see this inaction, this crop of believers become a group of bystanders mired in blatant complacency. You said I was overreacting. You said God’s got this.
Don’t get me wrong, I do my trust in my God, in my Lord. But I’m starting to wonder if He’s the same as yours. I’m starting to wonder if, perhaps, we don’t share the same religion. Or if I even have religion anymore. And the funny thing? The funny thing is, when I was a kid in church, we were told that satan would try and steal us from God, from Jesus. We were taught that the “enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy,” and we had to be ready to fight. I used to picture pitchforks, as a kid. Then I grew older and started to think it would be non-Christians who would take me away from my faith.
But it’s not. It’s you.
You’ve made me doubt everything I stand for. And after losing my dad too soon, and my virginity without my consent, it’s you, fellow Christians, who have hurt me the most. You, who’ve caused me to question whether or not I want to be associated with you and your bigotry. You, who’ve isolated my two sisters because of how they worship (or don’t worship) and who they love. You, who’ve laughed at my fellow Democrats and liberals, called us “faggots,” “pussies,” “dumbasses,” and more. You, Egyptians angry at Jews (or Blacks or Muslims or gays) for a million reasons you can’t back up by fact. You, who want to keep families trying to escape war out of this country. You, who said I was asking for it.
This is on you.
The day after the election, everyone in my office cried at least once. We gathered in the kitchen to watch Hillary speak of her concession, and we mourned. Together. The day after the election, my non-Christian friends gave me hugs, brought in chocolate. The day after the election, I saw thousands take to Facebook to encourage one another, tell them they loved them. The love I saw wasn’t coming from Christians, it was coming from those without religion. Without bigotry. Not you.
I’ve had to search for love in the midst of this election. And I didn’t find it in the church. I didn’t find it in my religious family and friends, who refuse to acknowledge racism and call us “sore losers” who need to “grow up.” No, in them, I’ve found middle-school bullying tactics. I’ve seen ignorance and cruelty. I’ve seen hate. Pure, blind hatred.
This is what I’ve seen from Christians. From the religious. From you.
So, please, tell me to grow up and get over it. Tell me to move on and stop crying. It won’t surprise me now. I’ve seen what Christians are capable of, what I didn’t used to want to believe. And now, I expect it from you. Because you’ve taken away my religion, you’ve taken away my faith and hope. Now, all I have is my relationship with Christ, and thank God it’s all I need. I don’t need you. Not anymore.
So this is my goodbye to religion, to the systems that have built so much fear and hatred. I won’t be a part of you any longer.
Trump’s America has driven me out, and out I’ll stand, clutching my heart, closing my eyes, and listening to that old, familiar whisper: “I’m not done.”
Lead image: flickr/ashley rose