by Dr. Amos C. Brown
As both the political left and right decry the heartless immigration policy that is separating children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, the white evangelical community is proving once again to be the taillight instead of the headline on issues of basic morality and justice.
This is not the first time in U.S. history when those among us who most loudly cite from the Bible outright ignore or deny humanitarian crises.
The silence on the new border policy from many evangelical Christians, particularly white evangelicals, is a resounding endorsement of politics over morality. Donald Trump is truly their guy.
No matter how many shockingly amoral policies come from his administration, despite the severe imagery disseminating across the nation of young children caged and crying out for their mothers, the evangelicals are behind this president 100 percent. And that’s why I say they are the taillight of social justice, unable to envision the road ahead, their moral compass blurred by Trump’s vapid promise to make America great again.
Truth is, what has made America great over the last 242 years is its conscience. What makes us great is our national faith-based mission to strive for justice, equality and humane treatment for all individuals, no matter their background. It’s an achievement no nation on Earth, including ours, has ever fully realized. It is one to constantly strive for.
The gross mistreatment of immigrants seeking asylum at our border is proof America is not nearly as great as it can be. But as an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement, I can say the collective soul of America’s citizens can right historical wrongs. Once again, the evangelical Christians are on the wrong side of history.
The evangelicals are behind this president 100 percent. And that’s why I say they are the taillight of social justice, unable to envision the road ahead, their moral compass blurred by Trump’s vapid promise to make America great again.
As noted in The Washington Post recently, Frederick Douglass wrote in his 1845 autobiography, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” that America had failed during his time to be a Christian nation because it was a “slaveholding religion.”
“I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land,” Douglass wrote.
He added, “Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity.”
Nearly two decades after the book published, the 13th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution to formally abolish slavery. Douglass lived to see that day; he had been on the right side of history.
Once again, the evangelical Christians are on the wrong side of history.
The potential legacy staring at the evangelical community appears far graver. To be on the right side of history, they must disavow not only the irrational separation of children from their parents, but the inaccurate spinning of Bible literature to make such injustices remotely acceptable.
They must fully disavow such statements as those recently uttered by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who twisted Biblical passages to suggest that U.S. laws justify gross mistreatment of immigrants. This mean-spirited changing of the context has developed a platform for xenophobia, nationalism and racism.
If one carefully reads the Judeo-Christian text, they will see that it embodies what America is truly about: love and respect for the worth and dignity of all human personalities. Sessions should be ashamed of himself to display biblical ignorance and gross misrepresentation of the sacred texts that he’s chosen to use to justify his brutal, inhumane and partisan policy.
To be on the right side of history, they must disavow not only the irrational separation of children from their parents, but the inaccurate spinning of Bible literature to make such injustices remotely acceptable.
The challenge for the evangelical community in the coming months will be whether to continue backing Their Guy. They have given the Trump administration a pass on everything to promote their narrow view of humanity.
Giving an inch gave the administration a mile. Today at the border, they’re learning how bad it can get. They’re learning how the administration has used their deeply held beliefs to divide people rather than unite them in one nation under God.
Unfortunately, their faith leaders have been complicit and in collusion with evil. Whether it is gay rights, women’s rights, or immigrants’ rights, they have not stood upon issues of justice and inclusion. They use religion for control, and they support a president who publicly expresses admiration for dictators.
They’re learning how the administration has used their deeply held beliefs to divide people rather than unite them in one nation under God.
For those of us on the right side of history, now is the time to come together and to be humble enough to admit our flawed thinking on both sides, whether as a Democrat or Republican, and to work to make sure what is happening on the border stops and can’t happen again. We must not worry about those among us who are on the wrong side of history but focus on what makes America great: the ability of those who stand for justice and decency to prevail.
Dr. Amos C. Brown is pastor of Third Baptist Church of San Francisco, chair of the National NAACP Religious Affairs Committee and of the Social Justice Commission, National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.