My name is Anna and I am a Christian Texan Democrat. For four years, I’ve struggled to believe what I’ve seen on TV and on the social media feeds of Christians I know. I’ve watched faith leaders support a man that is a known misogynistic racist elitist. I’ve watched with horror as many Christians ignore or excuse his abhorrent behavior because evidently none of that matters if the Supreme Court is packed with conservatives. I’ve argued with members of my own family over how our faith should play out in our politics and what level of morality and integrity we should expect from our leaders. And I have struggled to find a way forward in relationship with people who have belligerently called me names and questioned my faith as I advocated for the rights of those less privileged than myself. I have felt grief I cannot explain at how tarnished the witness of the Christian church has become on the heels of four years of blatant hypocrisy and corruption. And I have cried buckets of tears and felt hopeless to change the situation.
In another era, being outside the US during this time would have been a gift. But with the prevalence of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, I haven’t been able to escape the reality show that my homeland has become. There was not a day that passed from the summer of 2016 to the start of the pandemic when I was not asked about Donald Trump - by friends, colleagues and strangers alike. I’m mortified and embarrassed, not just because he was elected, but because it was largely Christians that made it happen. The words Christian and Evangelical have been tainted so badly by those in power that have been used by Trump and his cronies to advance their business interests. I’m confident that the Lord is still on the throne, but I’m not sure the American church will recover if it doesn’t right the ship quickly. The world is watching and repentance is required.
I’m deeply disappointed and continue to be dismayed by the excuses made by Christians I know who, five years ago, would have called for the resignation of community or governmental leaders that bragged about sexual assault, but now merely shrug or cry “fake news!”. I’ve tried to have conversations with them, but doing so from afar is challenging. I’ve felt isolated and though I know I’m not alone in my frustration, I do feel like an outsider – like I don’t belong in my country or perhaps even in the American church anymore. So I pray, I have conversations where I can, and I vote my values. I vote for the safety, equality and security of my LGBTQ+ and BIPOC friends. I vote for my economically disadvantaged neighbors. I vote for the care of people’s whole lives. I vote to hold my governmental leaders to the promises they’ve made and the values my country is supposed to be about. And I pray again. And I thank God that my hope is not in governmental leaders, but in the name of Jesus.
Written by Anna Spiegel. Anna is a chaplain at the University of Leeds.