Making America ‘great’ again…

Full disclosure:  I originally wrote this in early November, before the election, and it’s been hovering near the trash can in my draft folder since then.  Tonight however, on re-reading, it seems way less bitter than when I originally typed it.  Tonight it seems far more anxious and frustrated at the recent days’ events…many of which -according to some- have been done in the name of our American faith.

Be forewarned, some of you aren’t going to like this.  That’s okay.  (As referenced by previous works, offence is something that I understand to be your privilege.)  All I ask is that you consider, as you read, your role in the topic.  Don’t immediately jump to  why either of us are right or wrong, just consider….

Halloween night I was invited to participate in trick or treat with some friends.  They live in a nice suburban neighborhood, middle to upper class, primarily white, ‘average’ Americans.  After the trick-or-treating dwindled, we retreated to the back porch for some beverages and conversation.  I didn’t know anyone other than the friends who had invited me, but have never found any of their acquaintances to be less than entertaining, so I stayed around.  As the night grew later, kids went to bed and folks started going home, till there were just the five of us: my hosts, myself, and another couple – their neighbors….and then the conversation changed.  It turned to religion. More specifically, it turned to his particular Christian viewpoints – including but not limited to the ‘fact’ that Christianity is the oldest of religions according to his scholarly studies.

Let me preface the next segment by saying that I’m not a regular participant in any organized religion, and I’m particularly put off by aggressive proselytizing.  I understand and appreciate, and do not belittle religion’s function and importance in the lives of so many, but it has not been a major part of my life for around 10-15 years now.  I don’t want to belong to a congregation that spews hate speech, politics, and antiquated gender beliefs.  I don’t want to participate in a community that has shown itself to be so two faced when it comes to helping other and being Christ-like……- so here goes…..

After a brief, yet all too lengthy one sided discussion he says  “You should come to my church.  It’s different.”  I chuckle and tell him that I really don’t think they’d be as welcoming of me as he might think.  See, I’ve already been told I’m going to hell by at least a hand full of people, including one Baptist minister.  I don’t believe that my role as a woman is solely to have children.  I was baptized ‘incorrectly’ as a child – which is apparently worthy of the flames.  I think ALL people deserve to be treated with respect and basic human rights regardless of their gender, nationality, color, or sexual orientation.  Oh, and I’ve been living in sin with the same man for almost 12 years….with no real plan on entering that sanctified thing you call marriage.  According to most popular local denominations, I’m already doomed.

I wasn’t trying to win a fight.  I simply don’t enjoy feeling bullied over my viewpoint on the subject, my life choices, the lives and lifestyles of people I care deeply about, or the fact that no matter IF I had been given a chance to explain my particular version of faith, I would have been wrong.  As I drove to work today, I reflected on the incident.  NPR was deliberating election news and I wondered if that man considered his beliefs would be the ones to “Make America great again.”  It’s fairly certain that he does, after all, why would a person be so fervent about something they didn’t consider to be of global benefit?  This leads me to my hypothesis.

In many ways Christianity is the America of religions.

1) In the grand scheme of things, America hasn’t really been around that long.  Regardless of our youth, we consider ourselves to be the deciding factor in the success or failure of people around the world.  In the name of God, we’ve removed native people, waged wars, invaded countries….If we deem it wrong, it must be so….because we are right – much like the judgmental elements of the church, and people who make decisions about each other that should be left to their God to decide. {The remainder of this section was added after the original text}
When individual actions are boiled down, be it abortion, petty theft, lack of empathy for those in need, or voting to tax America’s poorest and sickest into eternal debt and death, each person’s decisions are ultimately between them and whatever creator they choose to believe in.  It is ultimately their karma, their conscience, and their soul.  It does not fall to me to decide what you do with your soul.

2) The engraving on the Statue of Liberty suggests America accepts the tired, hungry struggling masses yearning to breathe free, yet here we are.  We are a country turning away those seeking to flee their ancestral homes due to war, poverty, persecution, and exploitation.  Though we have a mandated separation of church and state, one faith is consistently brought back into everything from the election to what should be included in school textbooks.  Christianity is faith based on the idea of embodying Christ; helping others, feeding the poor, clothing the needy, and making humanity better – but don’t put the methadone clinic in MY community.   Quick.  Lock the car doors or that homeless man might try to jump in the car.  Turn away that boat of Jews trying to flee Germany during WWII, and this week the Syrian refugees that have already been vetted.  There isn’t an actual desire to help – only to produce.  Increase numbers.  Increase tithe.  Build a bigger building.  Bottom line – money.  Money and pride.

{Added secondary} I am fortunate to know MANY amazing people.  Generous loving people who truly embody what it is to be Christ-like.  Some of them are even Christians.  Until we, as a nation, fully embody what that means – what it means to give without expecting reciprocation, to love unconditionally, to feed and clothe the less fortunate, to listen (truly listen) and help, to try to find the good and the God in others, to stop spewing hate, and to BE BETTER HUMAN BEINGS…we as a nation, and especially our leaders, cannot call ourselves Christian.  We must call ourselves flawed human. We must call ourselves lambs led by wolves.  We must call ourselves the self catering and the hard hearted.   In these days, regardless of your faith or lack thereof, I only ask you one thing.  Please, look at your fellow flawed human with respect and treat them with humanity.  Perhaps our humanity will grow and spread.  Perhaps it will move like unvaccinated contagion, infecting us all, until we finally achieve what we like to claim we are.