I March to Show People the Church Stands with the Marginalized

I marched in D.C. I marched because anything else would have sullied the Christian title I claim.

I am in a denomination that does incredible, quantifiable good, but is internally on the edge of a theologically divisive conflict. Within this church, my workplace, I have been mentored by the toughest, justice-loving, sloth-hating pastors I have ever known. They have fought for inclusion of LGBT communities, including hiring and mentoring LGBT employees. They constantly seek ways to reduce the environmental impact of our churches. They throw themselves into the trenches of suffering and sometimes lift out miracles. They read, and read, and read, never happy with the amount of education they have. They don't let racism stand anywhere near them. The women at large preach, teach, and travel just as the men — and in my experience, they do so MORE than the men.

And yet, my denomination also lives in parts of the country that aren't so progressive. There, our pastors have said words which divided, excluded, and demonized. They have been overly nationalistic and pugilistic. Their definition of marriage legalizes to the point where spirit is lost. They fear that which they don't recognize. And it grieves my heart to hear people so angry and enclosed call upon my same Jesus. Their words, like a spark on gasoline, always somehow seem to be more heard than ours.

In my corner of the world I work with the kids that these other pastors fear. Low-income kids with all the attendant problems, who aren't the heroes of a sentimental movie about a teacher who saves the day — they are work, they are tough, victims of a fight they never asked to have, and they will sometimes break your heart. But we must refuse to give up the fight for relationship, because every once in a while they'll quietly, innocently ask you something profound: "Did God want Trump to win?"

I march because if I don't, what will these kids learn about the Jesus I worship? Will they see only the pastors who fear them, who stay at home, who thank God for Trump? Will they only ever associate Christians with the "pro-life," effigy burning, conspiracy sharing politicians who claim the "evangelical" title? Will the church become a bitter taste in their mouth, a veil between them and God?

I refuse to let our church, founded on radical mission, go out that way. I march to show that my community of worshipers stands for justice, that we stand for reconciliation, that we stand for equality, and that we stand for the marginalized. I march to witness that we won't back down. I march because while I don't agree with every opinion represented at the gathering, I respect and welcome their collaboration, believe them all capable and worthy of love, and I will need their help to stop the fascism on our doorstep.

As long as the fight is in my hands, my students will never learn of a false Jesus who normalizes hate.