To my children:
At the time of this writing the country is in quite the debate as to what actions constitute an impeachable offense. If you do not love the President, then you are hoping that this is the beginning of the end of one of the worst individuals ever elected to the highest office in the land. If you love our President, then there are a multitude of actions taken by the previous administration that were also grounds for impeachment. There is no way we are going after the current regime when Obama committed these same type of infractions. After all, we are not going to punish a white man while a black man gets no blow back for those same crimes.
While your father may delight in the social media chaos surrounding an impeachment, allow to share why I am not getting my hopes up.
‘Twas the fall of 2016…
Like most of the country, I was completely enveloped in the battle over the White House. Make no mistake, our “God-given” President had framed this election season in these aggressive terms. Undocumented people were conspiring to rape and pillage their way through this country. A wall, similar to the one in China that kept foreign invaders out, would stand as a testament to our country’s resolve in protecting itself. Anarchy was spreading across the land and our major urban centers were becoming lawless war zones (mainly Chicago). The former head of the Ku Klux Klan was openly fawning over a President who would be great for White America and the son of the president had openly endorsed an updated version of Nazi propaganda on social media. Personally, I was able to confirm that even if I wanted to return to a conservative worldview, I would never truly feel welcome again.
Contrasted to who I was twelve years earlier, I was no longer concerned with establishing a virtuous and moral society. There are a number of reasons for this. First, my reading of the GOSPEL did not ask me or any other Christian to establish such a society on a national level. The GOSPEL asked that I bring the good news of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice to those who have not yet heard. Second, you cannot win the hearts of the people through legislative force. Advocacy for a heteronormative institution of marriage often crossed the line into blatant homophobia. Our ability to love our neighbor was slaughtered on an altar made of wedding cakes. The marriage of American Christianity to the Republican Party is one that undoubtedly changed the mission of the church. Truthfully, it has done more damage to the GOSPEL mission than same-sex marriage or abortion could ever allegedly do.
With our religious leaders lining up to kiss the ring of our real-estate savior, it was easy to become discouraged. If we could vote for someone who publicly advocated for American-led genocide and the tearing apart of Mexican children from their parents, why even bother to pretend that we as a religion cared about anyone other than the dominant group in this country? I had to believe that a line existed that would be too far for even the most conservative among us. Then an amazing event happened that I thought would derail the entire train.
**EXPLICIT CONTENT WARNING**
In October of 2016, an audio tape was leaked containing a private conversation between Trump and then Hollywood Access host Billy Bush. In a nutshell, our President was overheard speaking in a manner that I believe is characteristic of a sexual predator. I have included some quotes for you to get a clear look at this, context be damned.
“I moved on her actually. You know she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and fuck her. She was married.”
“…I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.’ I took her out furniture– I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”
“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. I just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
“Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything”
Let me state for the record that everyone deserves the opportunity to be forgiven and make amends, with two caveats. The first is that forgiveness does not equate to turning a blind eye to one’s character and allowing them to escape consequence free. Mere accusations had effectively ended the presidential campaign of Herman Cain just four years earlier. Second, if someone has a proven track record of verbally abusing others, they do not automatically deserve the benefit of your doubt. I could never believe in the sincerity of Trump’s apology because this is a man who has stated that he never really gave a thought about how his actions may have necessitated a need for God’s forgiveness. Unlike the 90s Dirty South rapper Master P, not even God could judge Trump.
I am not sure if your mother can remember just how giddy I was that weekend. I was not delighted to see a campaign ruined, just as Herman Cain’s was derailed four years prior. I was not even enjoying the public humiliation of Trump, his wife and his children (you should NEVER be happy about something like this). What gave me warm, fuzzy feelings was that maybe people would finally see what I had been seeing for a number of years. American Christianity’s power play, birthed in the 1970/80s with the rise of the Moral Majority, was a path that bring far more damage than any potential benefits. Perhaps now, people would see that for a church to truly thrive, our politics would have to be laid to the side and our crosses picked back up. A shot had been heard across the country and we all looked towards the Republican nominee, smoking gun in hand.
I was wrong.
I was so wrong.
I do not even have to warn you of the spoiler alert, do I?
Not only did Trump become President, but he was invited to deliver the commencement address at one of the largest Christian universities we have in this country. He is continually touted as God’s preference by a number of Evangelical leaders. Your father sits here and struggles to reconcile his version of the Gospel to those who not only unilaterally support the President, but seem to adore him. This was the time when those who clung to morality as an absolute truth tossed it into the trash and pissed in the bucket.
I am not sure what will happen to this country in the next four months. Watergate itself was closer to a two-year situation. There are talks of impeachment but barring solid evidence, how much proof is there for tampering with an FBI investigation outside the memo’s of its former director? We have already seen that the Republican party is willing to tolerate race-baiting and witness intimidation via tweet. I have no faith in our leaders to put country before party and do the right thing.
At the end of the day, I can only hope that the following ideas continue to take root in your life…
- When minds and worldviews are driven primarily by fear, people will compromise the teachings of Jesus to affirm their sense of security and optimism.
- Establishing a virtuous and moral society by means of political power will cause us to align ourselves with hateful ideas and practices that must never be associated with Christ and the Kingdom.
- We must never tolerate the dehumanization of people, whether based on ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation.
- There is a certain amount of gate keeping that occurs within any group, but we are not the ones at the gate. Let us always strive to invite those who are different from us into our lives and homes.
I am sure that this world will be far more complicated by the time you are old enough to settle these issues for yourself. More than anything, let your faith act as an anchor when this world threatens to toss you all around. If you decide another path, let compassion and love for your neighbor determine how you tackle any situation. This will always be true, regardless of where life takes you.