I am stunned by the rhetoric being spouted against Muslims here in America.
I am stunned that major GOP candidates are leading the pack and I am stunned that American …Christians …are buying into it all.
What is an American Christian, really? I grew up thinking, having been taught, that Americans were the best; we had the best morals, the best values, the best ideas, the best government. I grew up believing, erroneously, it turns out, that America’s very founding documents touted the belief that “all men were created equal.”
I grew up completely immersed in the statement made by our Statue of Liberty, and her words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” I thought it was glorious to have such representations of human rights in my country.
I coupled that with the version of Christianity I was taught: that Jesus was love, that Jesus reached out to “the least of these” and rejected nobody. I cherished this religion which seemed to embrace the notion of a loving God, who was, in the end, non-judgmental, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good.
So, my world, my created, fantasy world, was shaken once I began to read about the discrimination, hatred and violence carried out in this country by …American Christians. Where was the belief in the Constitution? What about the words spoken by Jesus in the Bible? It began to seem to be all a sham. White American Christians, too many of them, were too ready to either practice racial hatred against blacks and Jews and whomever else was to be targeted at a given time, and the notion of “all men being created equal,” I read, meant only white men. I read that the ships on which white people brought Africans to the Americas had religious names, including Brotherhood, Integrity, Gift of God, Liberty, and Jesus. (From There is a River, by Vincent Harding, p. 3)
It seemed that even whites who thought such thinking was against Christian principles as stated by Jesus were reluctant to say anything, and so they remained quiet. Racial hatred was OK; God, they suggested, was a white man who wanted America to be a “white man’s country.” Therefore there was no problem, no disconnect, between the way white American Christians treated people of color.
So, the Islamophobic rhetoric we are hearing today ought not be disturbing. American Christians, led in the GOP bid for the presidential nomination, are accepting and embracing the horrid words and suggestions being offered by Presbyterian Donald Trump and Seventh Day Adventist Ben Carson, who says he loves the Bible.
Because of what happened in Paris, Trump, the Presbyterian is suggesting actions that are reminiscent of Nazi Germany, South Africa …and Palestine. Separate people; brand some as bad, inhuman, unworthy of respect. Do it to protect others.
It is a heinous thought and scary. How many people, innocent people, will suffer from civilized, non-violent terrorism, which is all that Trump is suggesting? This feels like a sort of McCarthyism, all over again. And the supporters of Trump, Carson, Rubio, Christie and Cruz are on board.
When Barack Obama was elected, people said America was “post-racial,” but that was far from being true, and the fact that this anti Islamic rhetoric is rising by the day is evidence of it.
Did God make a mistake? Did God mean for the world to be just white people? I don’t believe that, but it seems that a vast number of American Christians, white American Christians, believe that. They find no disconnect at all between discriminating against and oppressing people of color, and the dictates set forth by the American Constitution and the Holy Bible.
So, someone tell me. What is an American …Christian, really? It’s time to stop wading in idealism, and look at our country and its touted religion squarely in the face. Because it seems that what I was taught about both democracy and Christianity …are sorely mistaken.
A candid observation …
One thought on “What is an American…Christian, Really?”
As a Jew converted to Christianity and given the privileges of whiteness in adulthood, and as a citizen of the US who also believes Emma Lazarus’ words on the Statue of Liberty – the words that greeted my grandparents as they entered this country – I am tortured by the fact that there is so little outrage at Trumps’ and GOP candidate company, governors and mayors, rhetoric. This is an unpredictably wide political pendulum arc with a razor’s edge slicing at all this country claims to stand for and never really did.