I moved to D.C. a few months ago and it didn’t take long to notice that I was out of the traditional south. I moved to a place where driving is optional, diversity is welcomed and everyone, literally everyone, gets CNN app notifications.
Among all the changes, perhaps the most eye-opening for me was the realization that I was smooth out of the Bible belt. Growing up in TN, I’d never really been around mostly unbelievers- people that were so (vocally) detached from spirituality and religion. Even people that I didn’t consider friends shared some sense of connection to faith. Many, if not most, of my peers at least had an early start in some form of church, even if they’ve strayed away as adults. I have to admit that it was new to me to be in a place where it was rare to hear people mentioning the Christian church (especially in a positive way,) let alone attending. But a policy-centered area like D.C. is different, and there’s at least one particular reason why.
Christianity is negatively synonymous with “Republican”
One thing I love about Washington is that it’s such a democratic city. People are here from literally all over the world working, fighting and advocating for their cities and states back home. As much as I’m invigorated by the spirit of democracy alive in nearly everyone I meet here, I’m saddened to know that for many people, the only glimpse of “Christianity” they see is from political rhetoric spewed from people that are often more concerned with winning votes than souls. My sadness isn’t from a disdain for right-wingers, but from knowing that the GOP has hidden many oppressive, exclusive ways behind falsely labeled “Christian” values. These ‘alternative facts’ are pushing people further and further away from God. From the rights women have to their own bodies, to the decision of who we let over our borders, this notion of the Christian way as we’ve seen it lately, couldn’t be further from what God envisioned for His people.
While I do believe many vote according to their honest, moral convictions, it’s important to note that Christianity was used as kind of a political pawn in the 80's by Republicans who felt the nation was losing its morality. The party positioned itself as protectors of America’s moral fabric in efforts to solidify the Evangelical vote. Evangelicals (not to be confused with Evangelists) generally maintain the value of tradition, and tend to push back on or oppose policies that threaten it. The problem is that for some of them, tradition-keeping often supersedes basic humanity, and that’s just not cool.
I’m reminded of the Pharisees who were fabulous rule keepers, but terrible people-people. Jesus and his crew were out and about one Sabbath day and his disciples had gotten hungry. They began to pick spikes of grain to eat (you know, so they wouldn’t DIE) and the Pharisees tried to stop them. They were like “whooooaaa it’s the Sabbath, yall can’t do that.” After Jesus read them, He basically was like, ya’ll don’t even see that grace is more important than sacrifice [holding tight to these restrictive rules]. I believe His message in Matthew is still His stance today. We can’t be so caught up in what we’ve decided are rights and wrongs that we overlook the main thing we’re called to do on this earth: love God, and love people. Das it. Literally what Jesus said are the most important things we are to do here. (Matt. 22:36-40).
While the bible doesn’t explicitly use many of today’s buzz words like abortion and immigration, we can glean a lot from the known characteristics of God and Jesus to get an idea of how they feel about all of this. God told Moses in Leviticus to treat any foreigner like he belongs, and love them. Straight up was like, ‘don’t forget you were a stranger in Egypt at one point, yourself.’ I really believe that’s what He’s looking down saying to America now “Ya’ll DO know ya’ll weren’t here first, right?” But that’s another story.
We also know that God was no respecter of persons, (Acts 10:34). The bible speaks a lot on how impartial God is to people. I truly believe God sees equal value in every being, and that walking, talking, breathing humans currently suffering today matter just as much to Him as the not yet born fetus. It’s so strange to hear someone condemn the killing of an unborn baby, but can justify murders of unarmed citizens. If Jesus still walked among us and we asked if abortion was wrong, I believe He’d simply ask us what we’re doing to help existing lives. And then drop the proverbial mic.
This post isn’t doubling for a Democratic party sign-up sheet and I’m not Republican-shaming. There are extremely great and extremely imperfect people making up all the parties (yep, there are more than two) and Christianity doesn’t belong to any of them. My intent is to implore those who have been rubbed the wrong way by Christians for reasons other than their profession of faith, to not let a few bad apples across party lines spoil the whole bunch. My hope is that you all not stereotype an entire faith with oppression, hatred and hypocrisy for those that choose to carry on that way. Regardless of the images of “Christianity” you may get from any of us flawed, dirty, struggling-to-get-right Christians, the fact remains that this faith is rooted in love, and any policy that promotes the opposite isn’t a true Christian value. It’s also my hope that those of us that claim this faith, work to better show its true essence in our actions, our words, and our policies.
Just know that there are men and women after God’s own heart on the front lines of every fight we’re fighting now. You may not always see us, but we’re at the protests, gripping the hands of the atheists, not to preach to you, but to actually live out our sermons. To show that if nothing else, we can agree on love and the fact that everyone deserves it.