A Letter to Trump Supporters

The letter below was penned by my friend Ray Schellinger in the wee hours of this morning upon Donald Trump being declared president-elect.  Ray is a Christian missionary who has dedicated his life to advocating for those on the margins. He directed Debra’s House a shelter for women fleeing domestic abuse in Tijuana, Mexico.  He currently works on behalf of refugees fleeing violence and oppression.

This past week he was in Jordan visiting refugee camps for those fleeing civil war in Syria.  Ray is a man of faith and integrity.  He takes to heart the words of Jesus ‘whatever you do unto these the most vulnerable of my sisters and brothers you do unto me’ (Matthew 25:40).  I invite you to read:

My dear friends, I cannot begin to express how heavy my heart feels right now. I know some of you greet this news with the opposite reaction. You are very happy, perhaps because you were truly afraid of what a Clinton presidency might mean. I am happy for you, and hope that this decision that you helped make happen will bring the positive things that you envision for our country.

I am afraid, however, and ask that you try to comprehend my fears and those of so many others who are offended by the character of the campaign that was run. We have seen blatant racism, sexism, xenophobia, and a pandering to the worst angels of our nature.

I fear for migrants who live here with us now, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, people of color, and many more of our most vulnerable citizens. I fear for our social safety net, for the advances we’ve made and civil rights, and for the availability of education and healthcare. I fear for the environment, and for the state of the earth that we leave for our children, I fear for the growing chasm between rich and poor in the US, as well as the undue influence of money in our political system, I fear for the relationships we have with the global community and allies, and the difficult International situations that we must navigate with wisdom and consistency.

I know these things are important to you too, and I ask that we join together to safeguard the values that we hold most dear, and to protect the lives of our most vulnerable. Please understand, that though I respect the will of the majority, I do not believe that the majority is always right.

Please remember that it is often a tiny minority which stands in prophetic witness to justice and the right. This incoming administration will have a great deal of power, and one party will hold the advantage in all branches of government. There is a great potential to abuse this majority. I am not at all confident that a President Trump can temper the power he will hold with a desire to protect the interests of the minority or the unity of the country.

If this was your choice, then this becomes your responsibility-to hold your candidate accountable to the wellbeing of us all. I join with you in praying that these fears are unfounded. I pray that we can continue to come together to work for justice, peace, and hope.

Shalom, my friends, shalom.

Workplace Discrimination: Not Good Enough for Jesus?

On July 4th I saw this headline in The Boston Globe: ‘Religious exemption to hiring rule urged.’ The article reported on 14 religious leaders (primarily Christian) who sent a letter to the White House requesting a religious exemption to a planned executive order by President Obama, barring federal contractors from discriminating in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation.

President Obama’s executive order is in response to failed efforts to get through Congress the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). ENDA would have made it illegal under federal law to discriminate in the workplace – not just for contractors.

The letter requesting a religious exemption, was signed by nationally prominent evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders including D. Michael Lindsay president of Gordon College in Wenham, MA. I note President Lindsay’s name because Gordon College is an influential voice in the community I call home. I happen to be a pastor to some of Gordon’s graduates.

The letter reads in part: “Without a robust religious exemption…this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity and religious freedom.”

I have many questions for the signers of this letter: What common good are they speaking of? Is it in the interest of the common good to discriminate in the workplace? Is it in the interest of the common good when students, staff and faculty are forced to be closeted in fear of being fired or marginalized? Is it in the interest of the common good to perpetuate a theology that teaches that some aren’t good enough for Jesus?

I am offended by the use of noble terms like the common good, unity and religious freedom to impose discrimination due to sexual orientation. Not so long ago religious leaders coopted noble words and scripture to perpetuate discrimination towards people of color, women, minorities.

As I was working on a draft of this article a gay couple at the church I serve stopped by my office. They told me that one of them must remain closeted in their workplace lest their employer who is religiously conservative learn that they are gay. They can’t go to holiday parties as a couple, they can’t disclose who they fully are out of fear of being fired.

I say to President Lindsay: ‘Adding your signature as a representative of Gordon College does not promote the common good, unity or religious freedom. Rather it forces good people to deny who they are and live in fear.’

I urge each of the signatories to reconsider and rescind their signature. I ask this in the name of Jesus who in Luke 14: 15 – 24 envisions the Kingdom of God as a great banquet table where all the marginalized, oppressed and forgotten people have an honored seat at God’s table. I ask this for the sake of the common good.