The 2016 presidential election has left many to wonder what the future holds — for us, for our friends, for the progressive gains in this country, for an evangelicalism in which 81 percent of our white brothers and sisters overlooked messages of hate. There is much to dissect and much work to do in the wake of this unprecedented event.
As Jim Wallis said in his column last week, Sojourners has a commitment to report the truth and replace fear with facts in our ongoing coverage and commentary. We plan to hold the incoming administration accountable for its words and actions, and to provide you with the timely and accurate news and information you need to do the same. But we also commit to providing a space to listen to each other, to lift up the voices of the communities we need to hear from, to offer our platform for shared healing and resistance.
The day after the election, we launched our Reader Stories, an open platform for our readers to share their thoughts, feelings, and next steps. The response was overwhelming.
We published 100 stories from readers across the country and internationally (explore the map below). We heard from a lifelong Republican and sexual assault survivor, a member of the military, a transgender woman, a grandmother fighting cancer, a Southern Baptist feminist raised in purity culture, a leader of a Christian nonprofit in Iraq, a descendent of the Armenian Genocide, organizers, young activists, parents, and on and on. Your words resonated deeply and spurred many to action. It also gave the editors and activists here at Sojourners much-needed fuel for the journey ahead.
So thank you. This week and always, we are so thankful for the readers of Sojourners and the giant community you represent — one marked by a commitment to the gospel and to each other.
The editors will be offering other opportunities to share in the forthcoming months and years, and as always, we want to hear from you. For now, you can support this effort and all of our work by reading, subscribing, and giving.
—the Web Editors
Scroll down to browse the stories, or explore the map to see from where throughout the country (and internationally) the stories were drawn.
We Do Not Have to Reconcile with Our Abuser
I never imagined how deeply affected I would be from an election, deeply afraid of a Republican president, despite having worked in electoral politics for the Republican Party for years. In 2010, after three campaign losses in a row, I vowed to never be emotionally invested in an individual campaign again — at least, not to the point of tears or taking a loss, personal. After all, I am a professional and ultimately, I find my hope, joy, and identity in Christ, and I know that there is so much more to our great country than the people we elect.
Tuesday changed that. Not only did I cry, but I inconsolably wept, and continued into Wednesday. I wept in privacy and in public. I wept with family, over the phone who couldn’t imagine stepping into a church for the damage done from the pulpit this election cycle for what Christians were willing to support. I wept with strangers at a prayer and reconciling service within a church, though not my own. Many of you had similar experiences. While some wept for the dashed hopes to make history with the first female president, many of us wept for children who deserve equal access to education and health care. We wept for neighbors who have been targets of hate speech and crimes because of their ethnicities, religions, and origins. We wept for our country who has fought too many wars, killed too many innocents, and spent too much money. And, we wept for ourselves, as victims of racism, violence, sexism, and xenophobia, who watched as others from within the church propped up Donald Trump, an abuser and accuser of all that is hurtful of not just our country’s past but our personal pasts, into the highest office.
I Was Not Surprised
I have been aware of the U.S. as an empire since Vietnam.
I was disappointed by Trump's election.
Trump's election is right on schedule for the end of our empire's lifecycle.
So I was not surprised.
God Is Drawing Us All to Greater Wholeness
My husband and I are resident volunteers at Casa Alma, an inter-racial, inter-faith Catholic Worker community. We sent the following reflection out to our extended community earlier this week:
Dear Friends of Casa Alma,
We write to share some of our reflections with you, as this election has prompted us to look anew at the state of our country and the state of our own hearts and actions. Despite the suffering we find, we are hopeful because we believe God is drawing us all towards greater wholeness. It is not an easy journey but there is no other one to make. For our part, we are resolved to deepen the scope of our practices of justice and to love more boldly. We invite you to join us.
What will this look like? First, we will increase the time we spend in prayer — receptive, contemplative, unitive prayer. There, in that place within where the most holy meets our humanity, we can rest in our deepest home. There we will find freedom and sustenance and be shaped in humility and courage.
I Feel Like Someone Caught Without Oil in Her Lamp
In about October, I started going back to church for the first time in several years. Although his election seemed impossible, Trump's rhetoric, and the overall national dialogue, had taken an ugly turn that left me feeling a need to seek physical networks — actual humans outside of Facebook — with whom I could stand to oppose old and dark ideas, that had now been given a national platform.
I've always felt too inadequate for church; I don't understand probably half of the Bible, and never felt particularly comfortable around people who seemed so secure in their own relation to the Creator. At the first sense of judgment, I'd disappear. Further, I felt comfortable alone in a solitary relationship with Christ; I could at least understand enough to follow the Golden Rule ... the hundreds of pages of gobbledygook were okay left unstudied.
This election has finally shaken me awake. I feel like someone caught without oil in her lamp; without the tools to contribute in the upcoming few years. Is it too late now to realize that to combat physical violence, one must be physically present — and to combat adverse theology, one has to be an expert theologian — study was never just for one's own journey; it was to become capable of helping the Other.
To those of you here who are secure in your faith, I encourage you to look to your neighbors near and far, who may not have considered your community a realistic option before. We're with you on this, but are without some of the spiritual tools and depth you have. We want to help, don't know what to do, and seek leadership.
We Are Only 'Divided' if We Give up
No doubt because of where I live and where I serve, I fully recognize a certain distance from the sorrow and spiritual anguish experienced by so many Christians faithful to the gospel vision of gracious welcome to all people. The very real grief and fear felt by so many cannot be diminished. Still, as a someone seeking to be faithful to God, I feel a certain need to repent.
I woke up Wednesday morning to have my own fear confirmed; though perhaps amplified by the scope of Mr. Trump's victory. I find little consolation in the final results of the popular vote. Mr. Trump will be president. Once the waves of shock and grief have washed over us, it is time for Christians to come to terms with our own responsibility for this. Even as we seek share our own stories, we need to be faithful enough to listen to the stories of those members of our families, communities, and churches who cast their vote for Mr. Trump. Because, despite our desire to believe so, they are not all bigots and racists and white nationalists and misogynists. Some are people who have simply come to the end of their capacity to hope for something better; who perhaps understood that this election would do nothing for them. No matter who won; they would still lose. Perhaps being called 'deplorable' by the nominee of the party who claims to have their interest at heart angered and embarrassed to the point that they lost perspective. I confess that I don't know, because I have not bothered to listen enough to stories different from my own.
Praying in Solidarity
I was so hopeful and enthusiastic about helping Hillary get elected.
My husband and I hated what the Republicans did to the Clintons over the years (indictments, impeachment, shouting untrue and inflated stories about many things). It seemed to increase during Hillarys campaign. And then there was Trump and the hostile rheteric ("Lock her up!," endless email accusations, Benghazi, etc.). Then there was the FBI head and his own agenda.
My Own Church Rejected My Generation
There are no words that could adequately explain what I am feeling these days. I'm stuck and I don't know where to turn. I don't know if this story will help anyone else, but I know that the most comforting thing for me right now is to know that I am not alone.
I am a young ("Millennial" if you want to segregate) pastor intern in one of the most conservative denominations in America. Last fall (being a part of generation "Why not?") I decided to work a hypothesis I was having. I used myself as a guinea pig and decided to see if I could retain my conservative Christianity while becoming a "progressive" politically. I was met with much more success that I could have thought possible. In fact, as I studied my theology it seemed to amplify the need of a change in the church and our country. We are called out to support life from conception to death (not just pre-birth and not just post-birth). Although, no political venue seemed to cover the means of supporting ones entire life. The progressive side seemed to help a lot more diverse populace AND focused on the need for the family to discuss how to support each other (instead of pawning it off to the government with anti-abortion regulations).
I felt confident in both my faith and my political ideals, comfortably retaining both. With the ministry context I was in (California) most of the Christians I served felt about the same. They were able to look at all the issues and how they affected the lives of those around them holistically (instead of being distracted by just one or two issues and how they effected them privately).
For My Daughter, After This Election
“She didn’t win,” I told you the morning of November 9th even as I imagined your unfinished map from the previous night. Your eyes reddened and fat tears pooled in the corners before rolling down your cheeks. You lay face down on the floor and buried your head in the carpet. Later that day, after you wiped away your tears, after you went to school, and after you returned home, you said, “I didn’t want him to win.” So I read to you a list of women, a Latina elected to the Senate, a Vietnamese American elected to the House, an Indian American elected to the Senate, a Somali American elected to a state legislature, an Indian American elected to the House. A Thai American elected to the Senate. All you said was, “I didn’t want him to win.”
May God Be With Us
I must say I was demoralized and depressed upon learning the final election results. I have felt that for several days and still do. By fasting for awhile from watching news programs, I seem to be gradually coming around.
I live in an area of the country where I cannot talk much about my election feelings because my state, and most people I know, voted so heavily in favor of the outcome. I have found next to no one with whom I can openly talk about it, so it's been a lonely ride. It feels to me as if, in this election, we have walked away from almost every value even remotely associated with the Gospel of Christ. For me, that's the most discouraging thing of all. I know there are many good-hearted and well-intentioned people who don't see it that way, and I know I must seek to love and respect them. So all I can say is: May God be with us and may we somehow know how to be with God and each other in these days.
The old man accosted my wife and me as we crossed the Whole Foods parking lot.
Two women engaged in an act of sedition.
Curry and cumin, salmon, an avocado, perhaps an organic apple.
How revolutionary can a turnip be? A Brussels sprout? Damn immigrants.
“She’s going to jail” he hisses,
The expiration nearly knocking over his frail, pale frame.
I’ve never met him, of course, but even I can tell
He is not the person he was at 20 or 40 or 60.
He clings to the cart for stability, his mind reaching for a similar solid thing.
I could push him over with my response,
Could wither him the rest of the way.
“I hope not” is all I say.
Why hasten him to the grave he can already see in front of him?
Whatever the consequences of this week, he will not live to see them.
Can I Continue Worshipping Alongside Evangelicals?
When I saw that Donald Trump was winning the electoral college, I was stunned. When I saw that 80% of my fellow evangelical Christians had helped put him there, I was angry and felt betrayed.
I have been part of the evangelical church for a long time. I have known that "evangelical" and "republican" are pretty much synonymous and have accepted that I do not fit into that category as I vote for the candidate who will be the most likely to help the poor, "the least of these."
While pro-life, I believe that God strongly calls us as believers to make a priority the "widows and orphans" and that has taken priority for me. Not so for my fellow evangelical believers. As Rachel Held Evan has said, evangelical believers are "pro-birth" but not "pro-life." They were willing to vote for a candidate who is immoral and against every group of people who God says to protect in hopes that their vote would reverse Roe v. Wade and put conservative Supreme Court justices in place in the future. They threw "the least of these" under the bus. This has forced me to strongly examine whether I can continue worshipping along side people who have gone this direction.
How to Use White Privilege
I chose not to watch election night on TV. Instead, I Googled updates by periodically refreshing my browser. During the early morning hours it was clear that — barring a miracle — Hillary was going to be defeated. I decided to go to bed, but couldn't fall asleep. Just as I was attempting to calm down, I heard my phone silently buzz and three consecutive gun shots outside. So I decided to check my phone, and sure enough my worst nightmare came true: Trump had won the election. Obviously, someone was celebrating outside, but knowing Trump's stand on guns the shots that rang out, to me, were laced with terror.
After a restless sleep, I was awoken not to my phone alarm but an out of state phone call from my son calling. I could barely understand what he was saying. He wasn't crying. He was weeping loudly.
Is the Damage Already Done?
I believe there were two main groups of people who got Trump elected:
The first group consist of racist, white supremacist, bigots. For the first time in our lifetime they had a candidate who openly backed their way of thinking. This energized this group and had them vote at record numbers.
The second group consist of evangelical Christians who could somehow overlook Trump’s many failings and vote for a person that they think will pick Supreme Court justices that might overturn Roe vs. Wade.
During the campaign Trump promised that if elected, the United States would use waterboarding and much much more. Waterboarding is an international war crime. He has called for the complete ban of all Muslims entering our country and that all Muslims currently in the country should be registered. Donald Trump’s character is the opposite of the beliefs and mores of Christianity.
What the Election Means for Transgender Americans
I am a transgender American. I transitioned from male to female in 1993. I am not a prostitute (and have never been one). Before I retired in 2012, I was a college professor, active in my church, teaching and writing Bible studies and rarely thinking about my gender journey unless some crude person said something, but as hurtful as it was when it happened, it happened rarely. I had the respect of my family, my church, my college, and my community. I am fortunate in that I still do.
However, for the past six months or so, I have been more afraid than almost any time since my transition. It started with the anti-transgender laws in places like North Carolina where it is now illegal for me to use the women's room even though anatomically using the men's room, at least for one function would be nearly impossible. For six weeks, I didn't leave my house except for the most important business and I got back as soon as possible afraid to use the public restroom even though there are no such laws in California. But some local groups had decided to start monitoring restrooms.
Nothing Will Change Until We Get Money Out of Politics
Numerous issues (climate change, food labeling, gun regulation, immigration reform, prison reform, education reform, short-term lending regulation, healthcare reform, banking regulation, TPP) remain vexing problems primarily due to corporations' ability to curry favor with elected officials. The corrupting influence of money in our political system is undermining our democratic traditions and discouraging Americans from voting and/or running for office. This ominous development may well end our experiment in representative democracy unless we alter this decades-long trend. For the sake of the republic, we must amend the U.S. Constitution to state that corporations are not people (and do not have constitutional rights) and money is not speech (and thus can be regulated by state and/or federal campaign finance laws). Short of accomplishing this, no other reform of significance will be achieved. The moneyed interests will turn any reform to their benefit, often at the expense of the nation as a whole.
A Prayer for Our Country
I am terribly disappointed in my fellow Americans, especially those who call themselves Christian. I am having a hard time knowing how to pray for Mr. Trump. But I found this beautiful prayer from her synagogue in Ruth Marcus's column in the Washington Post the day after the election:
"Our God and God of our ancestors: We ask Your blessings for our country — for its government, for its leaders and advisers, and for all who exercise just and rightful authority. Teach then insights from Your Torah that they may administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security, happiness and prosperity, justice and freedom may forever abide in our midst.
Creator of all flesh, bless all the inhabitants of our country with Your spirit. May citizens of all races and creeds forge a common bond in true harmony, to banish hatred and bigotry and to safeguard the ideals and free institutions that are the pride and glory of our country.
May this land, under Your providence be an influence for good throughout the world, uniting all people in peace and freedom — helping them to fulfill the vision of Your prophet: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they experience war any more.”
We Can Still Be the Change We Want to See in the World
On the Wednesday after the election, my husband and I were stunned, saddened, and angry — not just with the results, but with our fellow Americans who had chosen a racist, hateful autocrat over a tolerant, wise political leader who'd brought many years of experience to his lack thereof. Yet, we went to work as usual and sent our two teenage sons to school. Life still had to go on, even in the darkest of hours.
In our respective offices, my husband and I each noticed that a pall had been cast over our workspaces. Coworkers called in sick, leaving us in the skeleton crews to eye each other uncomfortably, saying little, only instant-messaging our disbelief in the previous night's results to our closest confidantes.
Not having a busy day ahead of me, I resorted to cleaning out my email inbox and noticed a message from my older son's Spanish teacher. She was having her students collect personal hygiene items for the area's migrant workers, and the due date to get the donations to class was quickly approaching.
Like a Drop of Water
Stunned as everyone, I pray and intercede and feel deeply the fear of violence of so many. After teaching RCIA and giving a church tour, I return to a prayer that means so much - the one priests pray, now silently, as they pour a drop of water into the chalice of wine. This is the second reflection on that prayer. I had to somehow say, "I am One with all of you!"
You Can Love People Who Betrayed You
I am not ashamed to say it; I wept in church on Sunday morning.
In the wake of news that 4 of 5 white evangelicals — my faith heritage — voted for Trump, I felt betrayed. How could my brothers champion a man who bragged about sexual assault? In the wake of betrayal I felt anger, then a deep, dark sadness. What have we done? How can my faith tradition that so champions the message of personal reconciliation make such a reckless choice on behalf of its country? I had not cried since Wednesday morning, but sitting in church among white evangelicals, my heart broke and the tears flowed at what we had done.
Yet deeper than the layer of sadness, there's something else at the very bottom of my soul.
Progressive Christians: We've Got Work to Do
Since the election, I have been swimming in worry and confusion. I spent Wednesday scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, hoping that something I saw there would help things make more sense. Instead, every report of the aftermath, every prediction about Trump's policies, and every post assigning blame only made me feel more despair about the effects of this decision. It is not so much the emboldened white nationalists, the fear-driven policies, or the tax plan that worry me; compassion and justice can overcome these things. It is the responses I see that make me fear for the future of our country.
Many of my friends are, like me, “liberal” Christians who are white and have least to fear for their personal safety and dignity. I have to confess that the majority of their posts have disappointed me a bit; every new Trump quote or revelation sparks a new chorus of wails. I am wondering when we will get around to doing the hard work the next four years are going to require of us.
We have work to do in our own communities: finding more ways to stand in solidarity with those who are threatened, building understanding rather than contempt across party lines, and caring for the poor and the planet when a man who considers them disposable takes power.
At a Catholic Church support group, a Latino women, in tears, tells of a family member, an elementary school-age boy who was told by classmates that he will be sent back to Mexico. Another member of the group, an older women, a long time parishioner of much economic means, proud and pleased that Trump had achieved a "win," tells the women in tears that Mexico isn't as dangerous as it was, that there are some lovely resorts there where she could find employment and "you'll be happier once you're back where you belong."
Tuesday night as the election and it appeared the tide was ebbing for Hillary and flowing towards Donald Trump, my youngest daughter, age 25, texted me, "Dad, tell me everything is going to be okay." I texted back, "Honey, I feel like I'm on the Titanic and there aren't even enough life boats for the women and children. I wouldn't mind my own demise if my wife and daughters could survive. The only thing I can take comfort in is that the Lord is in control. I'm so sorry. But I love you and the Lord."
The next day began the immediate onset and onslaught of racist and anti-Semetic actions: middle school students in Michigan chanting "Build the wall! Build the wall!" during lunch; the swastika spray painted in Pennsylvania; the African-American student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, being shoved off the sidewalk by a student calling "N...s off the sidewalk"; Muslim women having their hajibs yanked off their heads.
We All Have Stories to Tell
As citizens of these United States, as citizens of this world, we all have a responsibility. We have always had a responsibility. There are moments in our lives when we are brutally reminded of these responsibilities and this is one of those moments. Throughout the presidential election, I found myself deeply disturbed and disgusted by many of the things that our now president-elect was communicating. In one of her speeches Hilary Clinton picked up on this, calling these types of comments and the people who believed them to be true, “deplorable.” Immediately, people picked up on the word – some pointing fingers, some in defense, some in disgust, some in denial. I have had relatives and friends since claim themselves as “deplorable” and I remained silent. I voted for Hilary Clinton, because I believed that it is important for us to stand up for our neighbor, to take care of one another, and because I felt that Donald Trump represented everything our country should not be. Yet, I remained silent except for the squeak of my own vote.
Today, still in shock that someone who represented such vile views of mankind, someone whose words bred violence, disrespect and fear has become our president-elect, I have come to the realization that I need to speak – I must no longer remain silent. Each one of us has a responsibility to speak our truth and today I choose to take that responsibility. I do not believe that the majority of individuals who voted for Trump are hateful individuals—these individuals are not deplorable. However, there is a small and violent minority of individuals who picked up on Trump’s hateful language and saw it as validation of their hate and the sign that the time had come to act. We are at a juncture, there are many strong feelings and we could all fall into the clutches of hate or we can take a moment to pause, to embrace our common humanity to listen to one another and move forward.
Fear in the Classroom
Sobs. I started the day with a classroom full of 9-year-olds sobbing. After trying to calm the fears of my students since the primaries started, I woke up to one of their greatest fears coming to fruition. They didn’t want to leave their moms as they dropped them off at school. They came in, sat at their desks, and cried. The fear on their little faces is something I will never forget. I can’t help but compare this day, to the day after the election four years ago. Four years ago, I was teaching reading in Milwaukee. I picked up my first student of the day. He was five. He held my hand as we walk to my classroom. Halfway down the hallway he stopped and whispered, “ Ms. T, my president is black.” Pride was beaming from his little face. This year, all I’ve seen is fear.
May God Have Mercy on Us
To my fellow humans who now feel marginalized, I am sorry. Sorry that your struggles were ignored, your fears increased. But, more personally, I am sorry that I didn’t do more. I allowed my position of privilege to quiet my doubts and to dull my perceptions of the pervasive and systemic bigotry still evident in our population. I falsely assured myself that I was only seeing a loud minority in spite of evidence to the contrary. Instead of finding solidarity with you as a vocal minority, I too often chose to justify my tepid responses with excuses that everyone is entitled to their view, that my voice wouldn’t make a difference, that I was the odd person out. While my apology is too late, my conviction is strong and my prayer deeper for both God’s grace and strength to stand more firmly with you.
To my fellow white evangelicals, the apostle John, in both his Gospel and epistle identifies our love for one another as a defining mark of Christianity, even going so far to suggest that a lack of love is a defining mark that we are not Christians. Matthew reinforces Christ’s message that as we do to the least of these, we do unto Him. This week, 81% of you have assuaged your own fears by increasing those of others, have sought safety by endangering the lives of others, have pursued your own prosperity at the poverty of others, have listened to the screams of hate over the cries of oppression. May God have more mercy on our souls than we have demonstrated this week.
A Lament for the Outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election
God of hope, you came into the world as the Prince of Peace and invited us to follow your path of peace.
Your ways, as a man, were gentle, compassionate, radical, progressive, inclusive, and kind.
Your appeal never included bullying, humiliation, mocking, threatening, or hatred.
How then, O Lord, is it possible that so many of your followers, this very week, participated joyfully in the election of a man who has repeatedly represented himself as the antithesis of the One we claim to follow?
'Let Us Not Become Weary in Doing Good'
Mental health therapists I have known would say that it’s important to allow oneself to feel what one feels – no matter how negative and unpleasant the feelings. I’ve been surprised at how deeply disappointed I am that so many Americans chose Donald Trump as their president. For the first 24 hours after the results came in, I felt almost physically ill and like I was sinking into another pit of depression and anxiety. I’m better now, but I’m still sitting with my feelings of anger, sadness, disillusionment, and grief.
I grieve over the racism directed at President Obama from the beginning and perpetuated by the president-elect, crystallized in the absurd and patently untrue conspiracy theory that he was not born in the United States and thus was not really our president. It feels wrong on so many levels that the same person who deliberately and repeatedly delegitimized the first African-American president should now be the one to take over from him.
Do Not Despair or Become Cynical
For the first time In my life, I feel unsafe living in America. I feel unsafe for my children, my husband, and my family because our skin color is not white. You might say to me that favorite phrase "Why don't you go back to where you came from?" Then I ask you, would you go back to where you came from because the Native Americans can say the exact same thing to you.
I once read a comment made by a white-skinned person to a black-skinned friend "Whoever wins this election I know I will be ok because I'm white, but I fear for you if Trump wins."
I've never understood the exclusiveness of some Christians, because Jesus is all about inclusiveness. If you claim that God is all love and only love then there's no room for exclusion or hate. God embodies me, you, and everyone else in this planet who are all God's children, and everything that He has created. He loves us all equally. Not only just select few, and you think you belong there. He is for the poor, He is for the humbled, He is for the meek, He is for the marginalized. He does not discriminate. He is for all.
Let's Start Fresh
Just wanted you to know ... before leaving the house to vote, I prayed for wisdom to know how God wanted me to vote. New Hope Ministries Church is my polling place. Walking in to the building and again at the booth I felt weirdly apprehensive. I saw the two names Clinton and Trump. It was impossible to pick either ... so skipping the presidential nominations I began marking the rest of the ballot ... done ... uh oh back to the presidental choices. After staring at Trump and Clinton, the Lord impressed me to vote my conscience. Staring down at the independents, there was an unrecognizable name. Surrepiticiously googling him, reading his platform, I began to realize this man is everything I would want in my president. Knowing in advance he probably wouldn't win didn't matter, what mattered is I could sleep knowing I voted my conscience.
Why vote for an independent? Because we can do better. Let's break the party barrier and start fresh.
Don't Call Me an Evangelical. I Follow Christ.
I can’t feel my face. I kept poking my cheek and I couldn’t feel it. When my alarm rang Wednesday morning, I fought against waking up; being unconscious was much safer. Finally sitting up, I poked my cheek again. I still can’t feel my face. Went through the motions of the day, head in a fog of thoughts. You are unsafe. You are a white, single woman and you are unsafe. Your friends aren’t safe — Iranian, Indian, Hispanic. My beautiful friends are unsafe. Unsafe. Unsafe. Unsafe. Helpless. Helpless. Helpless. Angry. Angry. Angry. I yelled at God; told Him we weren’t on speaking terms right now.
I called my parents at lunch and poured my pain into the phone. I thought we were moving forward. I thought we would have a woman president. I thought that if I worked hard and was a great engineer, I would be given a square deal and maybe I was imagining the subtle sexism at work, right?
I got home and curled on the couch in the hug of a heated blanket. I cried. God where are you? And I knew. He was crying too. His supposed people had sold him out. They sold their souls for power. Do not call me an evangelical. I follow Christ.
Can a Vote Be an Act of Hate?
Christians who voted for Trump: You can take a big, deep sigh of relief today because you're safe! Your religion - secure; your ideas about marriage - secure; your money - secure; your jobs - secure. What a relief! No more babies will be aborted (because the government can change the law AND the hearts of women) you don't have to get your hands dirty with refugees, you'll still have your guns, and your country will prosper. You're all going to be OK!
Because that's what God cares about — right? YOUR safety, money, and security and ONLY the unborn babies. God doesn't care about all those people who need to know Him but hate Christians right now because of their support for a man who spews hate. There are countless numbers of people across the country and the world who are alienated from God even more now because of your vote. They see your vote as an act of hate and a slap on their face. Of course we want to bring these people to Christ but only if we don't have to suffer. Because God does not want us to suffer in our work to bring people to him (SAYS NO WHERE IN THE BIBLE!)
-Lifelong Republican, Lover of Christ, but Never Trump
A Letter to My Son on Being an American and a Christian During a Trump Presidency
On Tuesday, your dad and I took you to vote. It would be the first time in your life you would see your parents vote for the leader of our nation.
You knew the candidates, but you didn't know how contentious this election had been or how grave the consequences might turn out to be. Although I predicted the outcome, you still saw me cry tears of joy as we waited in line to enter that booth — tears over having the mere opportunity to vote for a female presidential candidate for the first time in my life, however futile it would be.
Remember that moment. Remember my tears — tears cried over hope and opportunity in spite of the reality of what was to come. I promise to remember too. In the days and years to come, I promise to have faith in the people of this nation, faith in myself, faith in God, and faith in you.
That day, our nation elected a new leader.
A leader who will be the first president of whom you will be aware. A man who has said such vile things that I cannot yet bring myself to share them with you. He has said things about all the women you love, things about your uncles and aunts and cousins, things that make us feel unsafe. Unwanted. He has riled up a portion of the public who think less of me for my gender, and members of your family for the religion they practice, the color of their skin, or the people they love (side note: how lucky are you to have a family this diverse?!).
He is everything we do not want you to be. He is the embodiment of the values we will raise you to stand up against. It won't be easy. People will tell you that you need to lighten up or have a sense of humor. People will tell you that you are too sensitive. People will tell you that you are un-American. People will tell you that if you are so disapproving, you should just leave.
When that happens, speak louder. Standing up against bigotry is not a sign of softness or weakness — it is a marker of strength. Welcoming those who are different from you is not un-American — it is what God calls us to do. And challenging our leaders? Questioning authority? There is nothing more American than that.
You will hear people tell you in unqualified terms that we are a great nation. That we are the greatest country in the world. That we were founded on greatness.
I urge you to resist this rhetoric. A country is a living, breathing thing. A country can have moments of greatness. It can also have moments of great atrocity. We have had both. At any point in time, a country is only as "great" as its people and its leaders.
People will say our new leader's voters are not all racist or misogynistic or xenophobic and they are not entirely wrong, but neither are they right. A vote for a hateful platform is a vote for hate, and it doesn't matter whether the voter's intention was fear, monetary interest, dislike of the opposition, or straight out racism. The polls don't register intent. The result of their votes is the same. People we know and love chose to vote for oppression. We continue to love them. Our task as citizens is to try to understand why, and as Christians, to forgive.
And this is why I want you to remember my tears that day in the voting booth. The tears of hope. We have a leader now who your father and I do not respect or agree with. Under his presidency, we strive to be the "great" citizens of this nation who will protect all that is good about this country and we plan on raising you to join us, with God by our sides.
When you feel alone or it feels too hard, remember that 74.5% of this country did not vote for this leader. 25.5% of the voting population chose him. Let that sink in for a moment (along with the fact that 25.6% chose his opponent, but the electoral college is a conversation for another day). Our leader seeks to undermine the very tenets of our democracy, and because we respect the structures of our government, your dad and I will recognize him as our president, but we will do our part to challenge every injustice, every overreach of power, and every insult to the people around us.
As you grow up, I ask one thing of you: READ. Read about an issue and then read about it some more. You are growing up in a world that is vastly different from the one your dad and I knew. Know that social media is not a news source, that every media outlet has a bias, and that opinions, feelings, and desires are not facts.
Going forward, you are going to see a side of your mom and dad you have not yet seen and I hope we will make you proud. I know that you will make us proud in return.
How to Preserve Our Relationships After the Election
I've been thinking since the power of thought returned to me about what happened on Tuesday and I'm not sure how this will be received but this is where I am.
Years of being a therapist has taught me that arguing — about anything — just entrenches people in their positions. There's also solid cognitive science on that. But two things loosen up closed minds: stories and listening. In many feminist circles this is called rhetorical listening. In community organizing it's often called indaba, circles of trust, Ubuntu.
In this past election season I have tried so hard to do this well. I have failed many times. Logic and facts are, alas, my weakness. But I have tried. And in my efforts I have listened closely and with love. I have asked questions and heard answers that sometimes made me uncomfortable. I have especially had to face the painful truth that as badly as I wanted our first female president and a continuation of Obama's great work, our hands were far from clean of blood and we largely failed to address the economic concerns of the working class. It helped my conversations when I admitted to those things in conversations with those whose views were so different from my own. I had to be humble. I had to be vulnerable.
Reconciliation Assumes Repentance Is Done First
Today I write to you very personally and vulnerably. I write to you as a student of theology, who thinks about the church more often than not. For those of you that know me well you may be aware that one of the main reasons I came to Duke Divinity School is because I long for reconciliation within God’s church. As a confessing Christian, I believe there is no greater vision of the Kingdom of God than a church that includes many ages, faces, races, ethnicities, genders, orientations, abilities, etc. I believe that the church is a radical institution that calls for us to care for those that don’t look like us. For over a year now I have been reading on practices and modes for a reconciled, united church. A hopeful dreamer I am, I thought this research into reconciliation would provide me easy solutions on how to lead and minister to people that differ in all aspects- including politically. However, the more I read, the more I realized that reconciliation in practice within churches often fails. Pastors around the nation experiment in many ways to create churches look like the church God so desires. But too often they fail. One of the main reasons that these congregations (mostly white, upper middle class) fail to unify with other congregations (mostly of other races) is that too often we as the church misunderstand what reconciliation actually entails. We want reconciliation that looks like a great group hug: a free space where differences are transcended. So why does reconciliation more often than not fail?
It's Time for Leaders to Step Up
This morning, for the first time since September 11, 2001, I shed tears for my country. I didn’t just get misty-eyed, I wept outright. After September 11, I wept about threats from beyond our borders. Today, in contrast, I weep for fractures and fragility within our country. I weep for my 25-year-old daughter, in her first year teaching 7th grade English to low-income, racially diverse students in Hayward, California, who today must explain the outcome of yesterday’s election to her young students. I weep for the future of my 4-day-old grand-nephew, who in a couple of decades will inherit whatever this country has to offer. I weep for the Latino laborers currently painting my suburban deck, who today must wonder what this election means for their aspirations.
The 2016 election — both the campaign process and its outcome — tells me that this country has too long side-stepped fundamental discernment of our bedrock values and obligations as Americans. Our political discourse is superficial and artificial. Many if not most of us fail to engage in any meaningful way with people who differ from us – in residence, political affiliation, income, and/or ethnicity. As individual Americans, each of us must strive to change that. As democratically elected leaders, you have a special obligation to do the same, and to encourage greater fidelity to our country’s founding values in everything you do.
What Is Tolerable in a Leader?
I have taken this week to be silent. I am silent because I am angry. Words cannot express how deflated I feel that a country could elect a man like the president-elect. I wish I could yell "It's rigged," but he won fairly. People I know and care for voted for him, and I do not know how to process my own grief.
Between the ages of 4 and 6, I was sexually abused by an adult. It took me until college to tell anyone because I was afraid I would not be advocated for. I did not have faith that there would be a system to scaffold me through my trauma. On Tuesday, America elected a man who is on tape bragging about acts similar to those I experienced. My friends voted for him. My family voted for him. They all said that he was a better choice.
I got the message. Sexual abuse is a tolerable trait in our country's leader. Why should I expect mercy, grace, or justice from a society who could look the other way? What message does it send the world when he gets voted in by "Evangelicals?"
You Too Are America
As I watched families enter precincts in Clayton County, Ga., where I served as a poll observer last night, it occurred to me that one of things that I missed most about this presidential election cycle was voting alongside my father. Less than a year after the 2012 election, my father, a Christian minister and civil rights leader, passed away, but not before having cast two votes for President Barack Hussein Obama, that for a man who grew up in the segregated South was nothing less than a miracle.
I also missed what I know would’ve been his colorful color commentary which might be peppered with words that would make the raunchiest comedian blush. Daddy probably laughed as much as he cried. And today, I believe he would do both.
Daddy, a masterful storyteller, once told the story of a friend of his named, Poppie, who was the grandfather of one of my sister’s high school classmates. Other than the connection between my sister and her friend, Daddy and Poppie had very little common. Daddy was a staunch progressive, a strategist in the Greensboro, N.C. civil rights movement and the pastor of the first mainline congregation to ordain a woman in the 1980s in Washington, DC. On the other hand, Poppie was a staunch white Northern conservative who apparently had no religious affiliation. Yet, Daddy and Poppie got along famously, had a high level of admiration and respect for each other, despite their differences. On one occasion, they sat together at concert at my sister and Poppie’s granddaughter’s all-girl school. While watching the girls perform, they said, at practically the same time, with tears in their eyes, “I wish all girls had the opportunities that these girls get.”
Daddy would later poetically sermonize this experience as a world where “all children can fly.”
Daddy and Poppie didn’t allow the fact that they had different political leanings to interfere with their ability to see the Imago Dei in each other nor in all other of God’s children. They also didn’t allow their political differences to distract from envisioning a world where every child has the opportunity to soar.
I believe Daddy would weep today along with those of us who have witnessed a campaign which has been short on civility and long on castigation, long on othering and short on embracing, and where policies have taken a backseat to personal attacks.
He would also weep because it was clear before yesterday and is still clear today that we do not live in a land where all children have the opportunity to soar. Too often a child’s social location, his race, her class, her gender, who his parents are, where they live, their religious affiliation determines his or her fate. Moreover, those social determinants often affect how the rest of the world perceives or portrays them — thug, maid, criminal, illegitimate, rapist, terrorist, and bitch.
When the soon-to-be leader of the so-called free world has denigrated and demeaned others with impunity, it makes the job of those of us who seek to provide an environment where all children soar that much more challenging, but at the same time that much more crucial.
So what did I tell my middle school students after the election? I told them: Don’t lose heart, keep working hard, keep fighting the good fight, stand with and for the least of these, righteous indignation is OK, passionate debate is welcome, but making demons of those with whom you disagree is not. Mocking those who are different is not. Inappropriately touching is not.
Disengaging from the political process is not an option; packing up and leaving isn’t either. This is your country. In the words of Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes, "You too are America.”
The final thing I told my students were words of wisdom from my daddy. I recall him talking about a past election of a not so favored candidate to many African Americans. He met an older woman on the train who told him, “Don’t matter who the president is, God is still in charge.” These were not words of eschatological complacency, but rather spoke of a present hope and a present help.
Yes God is still God, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same sun And, when we go low, and we have gone low, we can rely on a God who sits high and looks low. God is still our ever present help in times for trouble, and we remain God’s hands, feet and voice — weeping and working to transform this world into a land where all children can fly.
From Canada, a Cry for America
I wrote a song recently about our friends to the South. These are the lyrics for it. I think it speaks for itself.
Cry For America
By Anthony Hendriks
Cry for America, for she built a song
You could hear the chords and melody as it carried folks along,
But now it’s a whisper, you may say it’s gone,
So cry for America for she lost her melody somewhere before the refrain.
Once she was young, with promise-filled eyes,
And her lyrics were crafted on the lips of the wise.
And yes, times brought pain that fractured the rhyme,
But her song spoke a promise of healing in time.
Now she’s older, she wears a gold crown,
Her throne is of cardboard, her clothes hand-me-down.
And the rich send her melodies to add to her song,
But they clash with the tune as the poor sing along.
Her melting pot gathered the world in one nation,
White, black, and brown shared one declaration.
And the Statue of Liberty, torch in her hand,
Held hope of new life in this beautiful land.
But now at a crossroad, what song will break out,
Will fear and injustice raise a mob’s angry shout,
Or will hearts that are cold, find warmth for the night,
Oh pray for a love song, with scales built of light.
Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly
How Does Goodness Win?
Election Day in our neighborhood was splendid and sunny. At the polls we encountered the usual diversity -— recent immigrants proud to be citizens, African Americans, working class white folks — the people who supposedly can't get along, all greeting each other and feeling proud and hopeful about voting and democracy. I took my 100-year-old mother to vote — "I vote straight Democratic," she told me. My talented young next-door neighbor, only a year or so out of college and trying to make a career as a dancer, showed up and voted right before my mother did — their two names next to each other on the voting register: a 100-year-old daughter of Italian immigrants, a 23-year-old African-American man trying to make it in spite of the burden of college loans.
That joy in purpose, solidarity, and freedom was knocked out as the election results rolled in. What would the Trump presidency mean not only to our country, but to the Earth community?
So my silver lining was this: my family. We came together to mourn the outcome of the election and to ask ourselves, "How does goodness win?" One answer came from a close friend of my eldest son and his wife. My daughter-in-law copied her Facebook post and sent it to me: "... these past years of raising 3 kids and having Obama in the White House have made me complacent ... but now is a great wake-up call ... we've resubscribed to Sojourners magazine as a start. I don't know what our next move will be, but I hope we've woken the great slumbering social justice bear that's been hibernating in our household all these years."
This Will Not Tear Me Apart from My Faith
"I'm fine," I said to the lady at Starbucks who took my order that day. I absolutely hate lying, but I knew if I told her the truth I would have erupted in tears. But like many I cried after the results were announced. I cried in the morning right after waking up. I cried in the bathroom stall at work, worrying someone would hear me. I cried because I didn't vote, due to moving recently and a lost absentee ballot form. I cried tears of regret, sadness, anger, and fear.
I'm at the point where I feel the need to deactivate Facebook for while. I'm seeing how people handle emotions and it's not all that pretty, or coherent, for that matter. But I also caved and posted on social media, feeling the need to be heard and supported. I think we all want to feel that, regardless of whether or not our party won. I keep getting comments and messages on Facebook from my conservative family members to just "keep calm" and "continue on your ordinary day." But they don't understand the implications of this election, do they?
On The State of the State Per Trump
Historically, Americans have never really been able to disentangle their more inclusive vision of civic nationalism from a vicious racial nationalism spurred by the glorification and normalization of whiteness. Instead, most have lived day to day with a cognitive dissonance about it all. Certainly, our often-neglected veterans are valuable, but as Ta-Nehisi Coates has noted in his “Case for Reparations,” “to proudly claim the veteran and disown the slaveholder is patriotism a la carte.” Despite good intentions, to “make America great again” will always mean to make it white again if the agenda is driven by nationalism.
For me. For You. For Us.
I cried. I cried for my disabled daughter. I cried for my mother who lives on a fixed income and who finally hoped she would live to see a female president elected in her lifetime. I cried for my grandmother, who risked her own safety as an illegal abortionist. I cried for the unaccompanied minors from Central America that I have spent years working with. I cried because I have no answers for them. I cried for my own safety and fear of being sexually victimized again. I cried for my lesbian sister who fought so hard for the right to marry the love of her life.
The list is endless.
Since the election results came in I have not been able to turn on the television or social media. I refuse to be told to "tow the line and support the president elect". For every reason I cried, I understood that I must continue the legacy of my grandmother and mother, and move forward ensuring I continue to work and advocate for all those who don't have a voice. For all those who are afraid to come out of the shadows.
For them. For me. For you. For us.
This Is Why I'm Crying
I am a crier. Anyone who knows me well (and many people who don’t know me well or are complete strangers …) has probably seen me cry.
I have spent a lot of time crying the past two days.
Last night, on my way home from work, I packed myself onto the 6 p.m. metro. I was a little emotional and struggling to keep it together. A young, black woman squashed next to me asked me if I was alright. Cue waterworks, I just said “the election.” Then she started crying too. She said to me, “I feel like I’ve been rejected.” We cried together in those last few moments before the next stop and I said, “I’m sorry. You’re not rejected by me.” And she said, “And you not by me.”
Let me explain that I am not crying because of the outcome of the election, although of course I am disappointed, but that 81% of white evangelicals in America voted for a candidate who built his campaign on racist, misogynistic, fearful language that is rooted in manmade systems built to uphold White, western, patriarchal power structures.
I Love You, but I’m Not Feeling the Love Today
At the close of Colbert’s live show last night, he encouraged Democrats to go hug a Republican. Well, forgive me if I don’t immediately offer a hug if you voted for Trump. It’s going to take me a little time. I love you, but I’m not feeling the love today. This has nothing to do with being a sore loser over a political election. It is much deeper than that.
Trump based his entire campaign on bigotry, racism, and xenophobia. It started on Day One and was the major theme of his entire campaign. The undeniable proof of his racist appeal is the KKK and other white nationalists who support and endorse him.
And that was okay with you.
What Changed in a Day?
Racism; misogyny; homophobia. Three disgusting terms, especially when not being repudiated. Until Tuesday, I would be applauded for standing up to racists, misogynists, and homophobes. Now, a single day later, even the president is nudging me to be on “one team” with them. Millions are hoping to put these differences aside. Things change fast.
One minute bigotry was anathema to most of us. Next minute it’s suddenly anathema not to compromise.
“Maybe if I just look past the degradation of women they won’t build that wall”
“I wish that restaurant served homosexuals, but at least there’s more small businesses in town”
Are these the negotiations that have to take place? What did the other side budge on? I hear the election was about economic issues like jobs and a changing middle class. Does that mean they aren’t racists, misogynists, and homophobes — just expedient — putting the esoteric hope of a churning economy ahead of equality? I hope the answer is “no” and you tell me. I hope there’s another explanation, a good one. Otherwise I’m going to be on the “other team” for a long time.
I Ask for Forgiveness on Behalf of White Christian America
As someone who has grown up in white evangelical churches, been privileged to study and live overseas, and worked in a majority-Muslim country in the Middle East, I found myself deeply compelled to write an open letter. I hope people will join with me in my commitment to use all the tools at my disposal, words in my case, to stand with those who are targeted by hatred. My letter is below. Feel free to adapt and share according to your circumstances, but please keep it in the spirit of reconciliation and prayer offered here.
To my friends, colleagues, former students and family who are female, Muslim, Mexican, victims of assault, disabled, mentally ill, Jewish, LGBT, racial minorities, undocumented, immigrants, or otherwise part of the groups targeted for hatred in this election:
I ask your forgiveness on behalf of white Christian Americans like myself for the overwhelming support they have given to the candidate who mocked you, insulted you, and violated your dignity as fellow human beings. This man who in his vanity and greed personifies all that is un-Christ, who traffics in innuendo, conspiracies and lies, and who finds affinity with the world's most egregious tyrants will sit in a position of unparalleled power because of the votes of tens of millions of Americans, and especially white evangelicals. Their views are not mine, but they are my friends and family and I continue to love them and be one of them.
Let's Take Our Responsibility Seriously
Some quick back of the napkin math that might make you feel better about America right now and/or make you mad/sad.
U.S. Population: 319.8 million
People who voted for Trump: 59.8 million
% of U.S. population who voted for Trump: 18.8%
% of U.S. population who did not affirmatively cast a vote for this man: 81.2%
For every American who made a conscious decision to make Donald Trump the next president, there are 4 who didn't (some are kids who might have if they were 18 but that's beside the point).
I'm not arguing that this percentage is radically different from the percentage of the U.S. population that has elected most of our past presidents. What I am saying is that we can't function as a society if we assume half of the people that live in this country are our enemies. (We probably also can't function if we assume 18.8% of the population are our enemies.)
These numbers, in addition to being hopeful for our ability to get along with each other and function as a society, are also deeply sad, because there are something like 100 million eligible voters who stayed home. As many have pointed out, Trump got less votes than Mitt Romney and won because Hillary got around 6 million less votes than Obama in 2012. To me, there are lots of complicated reasons for what happened, but one of the things that frustrates me most is that lack of enthusiasm for the Democratic nominee translated to far too many people failing to, as I put it the other day, "defend their democracy." It's also 100 million people who didn't step up and cast a vote to protect undocumented immigrants, Muslims, African-Americans, women, the disabled, LBGTQ folks, etc.
Now we have to trust our institutions: civil society, the press, grassroots activism, Congress, the Supreme Court, the military, and the people Trump appoints to his administration to defend our democracy for the next 2 and 4 years, and defend the rights of all vulnerable people, until the voters are given the chance to do so again. And not all of these institutions are trustworthy on one or both counts.
I am hopeful there that we, the voters, will get that next chance, but the fact that it's no longer a sure thing because our president-elect has shown no understanding of the Constitution and has displayed many authoritarian impulses throughout his campaign and career should trouble us deeply. Assuming we get the opportunity, let's take our responsibility more seriously next time.
What Does Real Love Look Like?
One of the things that has upset me most about this election is the Christians who voted for Trump because of "abortion" or the "Supreme Court." Perhaps they managed to delude themselves that theirs was a "principled" or "moral" vote. But as far as I can tell, Jesus never said anything about abortion or the Supreme Court. He gave us two commandments: love God and love neighbor. If these same "Christians" made love their highest value, they might have made a more principled vote.
It looks to me that one of our most urgent tasks is to show them what real love looks like.
Today, I Fight On
My great-grandmother, Martha Leipold, was a social democrat in Germany before WWII. A single mother, she helped lead the political fight against Hitler. She was assassinated by the Nazi's for her views. (I have the documentation. The Germans always kept great records.) She left two children behind, my grandmother and great uncle (who was killed at the Russian Front). Her life and death is made meaningful by those of us left behind to continue the fight for social justice.
Today, as a 57-year-old white woman, I have spent my entire life fighting injustice and working for women's rights. On November 8, 2016, I had hoped to tell my granddaughter that finally she could be anything. Instead I grieved that that message would have to wait. So I fight on, advocating and fighting for a world in which my grandchildren can play freely and filled with love and peace with all the other children and grandchildren of the world without fear of war or hunger or hate. I believe we can achieve it, but not today my darling granddaughter, not yet.
A Love Letter
I miss you.
I have missed seeing you in the streets and in the market. I remember being in school together and passing you in the hallways and seeing you in class, but that was so very long ago. We went to different colleges and simply never stayed in touch. We blamed it on distance and time.
These things happen, you know. People grow apart. But we loved one another once.
I do miss you but it wasn’t until recently that I realized how much I miss you. It wasn’t until I stood with my back pressed against the cold hard wall of my own white male privilege that I realized that I missed you as much as I do.
I was standing there in my living room watching the election returns. My social media feed was awash in polling data and demographic guesswork. People like me were voting to make sure that people like you are put to the side. Eighty-one percent of evangelicals voted for Donald Trump and, whatever their reasons were for voting for him, they voted against your best interests. A majority of the so-called liberal mainline Protestants voted for Trump.
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