IN THE 2016 ELECTION, white Catholics and evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump and the Republican party’s “pro-life” platform. Since Trump’s election, the United States has also seen an unprecedented rise in hate speech and action, such as the Charlottesville rally, and other incidents aimed at minorities, immigrants, and Jews.
The Anti-Defamation League reports a 67 percent rise in anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S. over 2016; anti-Semitic incidents in K-12 private, public, and parochial schools have more than doubled, including harassment, vandalism, and physical assault. These trends are the very opposite of the pro-life platform white Catholics and evangelicals held as a centerpiece for their voting choices.
The challenge of how to respond to a rising tide of hate is not a new one for Christians—nor is the complicity of churches in spreading it. While individuals and a few churches confronted hate speech and actions against Jews in the years of Nazi power in Germany, most supported the state. If we hope to do better today, we must educate our students not only about the end result of complicity and silence—genocide—but also about the stages of bias and hatred that are fertile ground for brutal, systemic violence.