I struggled to stay up to date on this election. I was quick to become apathetic, disgusted by the media frenzy, and afraid of both parties. I was quick to feel discouraged and powerless, understanding that voting for a third party essentially rendered my vote useless, despite our democratic process.
Until November 8th rolled around and I was face to face with the reality that all jokes aside, we were down to the "lesser of two evils".
And I started to care. I started to fear. I started to mourn. All of a sudden these candidates weren't just faces in the media, but real people who my friends and family were supporting, defending, and rejecting. My real people were supporting these real people; this was real.
When I woke up on November 9th there was a true sense of grieving. My social media channels were filled with solidarity for minority groups in response to our new president elect, and his proposed policies and opinions regarding anyone who does not look and think like him.
I saw my Australian friends posting their responses to our mess from the last few months, their judgments that perhaps our "democratic system" isn't truly that democratic at all. That perhaps America isn't as progressive and unified as we would like to think. Friends, you are right.
I saw my Christian friends celebrating that we had a leader in power who would protect their Christian values and rights. Values and rights they feel are owed to them as American Christians, and in the same post promising to stand with the same minority groups who fear the loss of their rights.
Our Christian rights and liberties are a gift because of the country we get to live in. They are not an entitlement. They are not a guarantee. They are not promised anywhere in the Bible. In fact, over and over again Jesus reminds us that as Christians we will be persecuted and rejected; something we know nothing about living in the United States. And we are blessed to not know this, yet. But we are foolish to think that we should never know it. We are naive to think we are above it.
I wonder if we truly understand what religious freedom means, or just Christian freedom. Because as American Christians, I don't think we are actually concerned about religious freedom. I think we are concerned about maintaining Christian values in a government where we claim a separation of church and state.
"Religious freedom doesn't mean you can force others to live by your own beliefs" - President Obama.
I struggle to understand the other side. I struggle to understand my Christian brothers and sisters who can argue that even though they voted for our president elect, they still stand in solidarity with the minority groups that feel threatened by him.
Julian Assange writes: "Every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in it's presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love."
Every time we witness an injustice. Every time we vote for or about injustice. Have we as Christians joined the side of the oppressor of our other brothers and sisters, and is there any coming back?
Were we more concerned with making sure we had a leader in the Oval Office who would protect our Christian values than our true call as Christians? We are called to love people and be Jesus to people. Contrary to popular belief, this call is doable regardless of who is in office.
American Christians, we have gotten it wrong for a long time. We have often confused living out our faith values with forcing them on the world around us.
But now we have the chance to get it right. Perhaps we can still be Jesus to people who need it now more than ever before.
We are all Sons & Daughters of the Most High. Despite our political differences, despite who you voted for, despite your opinion of religion in the US government, despite whether or not you agree with what I just wrote, you were created in the image of God just the same as me. Just the same as our brothers and sisters who might look differently, speak differently, or believe differently than us. Just the same as our president elect.
You and I, we are not so different after all. Nor do we have to spend the next four years in disagreement. We were never created to. Let us not be passive moving forward and let us not confuse the task of our faith:
"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."
James 1:27 NLT