The Optimist Still Laments

In September of 2020, I published a song called “The Optimist’s Lament” that was one-half a listing of everything going wrong with the world and one-half a desperate prayer to God to help. Today, I lament more.

Today, right-wing insurrectionists stormed the capitol of my country in an attempt to stop the certification of an election. This is horrible. Yet what hurts me the most here is seeing the multiple instances of Christian imagery in the attack.

Check the “Proud American Christian” in this flag:

Image
via Anthony B. Bradley / @drantbradley on Twitter

Or the more classic Christian Flag in the background of this one:

Image may contain: one or more people, beard, hat, closeup and outdoor
via J. M. Giordano photo / @jmgpix on Twitter

And I’m not surprised. Honestly, I’m not even angry anymore. Just sad. I’m sad that my faith—the part of me that I can hold on to when literally nothing else makes sense—is used in this way.

I was angry about this once. But this already happened in 2020:

After having police and National Guard units disperse protestors with flash-bang and tear gas munitions, President Trump posed for media with a bible in front of St. John’s Church.
via Doug Mills / The New York Times

Not to mention 2016:

via Christianity Today

But this is just politics. It goes all the way back to the late 70’s where many prominent Christian leaders were galvanized into politics by the Supreme Court verdict in Roe v. Wade the loss of tax exemptions by Bob Jones University based on their segregationist policies:

Although a few evangelical voices, including Christianity Today magazine, mildly criticized the [Roe v. Wade] ruling, the overwhelming response was silence, even approval. Baptists, in particular, applauded the decision as an appropriate articulation of the division between church and state, between personal morality and state regulation of individual behavior. “Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court abortion decision,” wrote W. Barry Garrett of Baptist Press.

[…]

The IRS was not placated. On January 19, 1976, after years of warnings—integrate or pay taxes—the agency rescinded the school’s tax exemption.

For many evangelical leaders, who had been following the issue since  Green v. Connally, Bob Jones University was the final straw. As Elmer L. Rumminger, longtime administrator at Bob Jones University, told me in an interview, […] “That was really the major issue that got us all involved.”

Randall Balmer, “The Real Origins of the Religious Right,” Politico

But I don’t have the energy to be angry about that. Because while some have been using the name of Jesus to justify abhorrent political views like locking undocumented immigrants in literal cages or promoting the rich at the expense of the poor, others have just been using symbols of Christianity to justify… stuff.

Picture of the founder of My Pillow with his cross necklace enlarged
via MyPillow
via DaySpring

So yeah. I don’t have the energy to get angry about images of Christ’s sacrifice—the time that the crowd chose to execute an innocent man instead of the violent insurrectionist—being used to sell a fascist coup.

I don’t even have the energy to get angry about images of Christ’s sacrifice—the entire means by which I can gain some hope in this bleak life—being used to sell questionable political beliefs.

Because I spent too much energy fighting off images of Christ’s sacrifice—an event so traumatic Jesus literally sweat blood in anticipation of it—being used to sell sub-par, half-quality merchandise that I’m “supposed” to buy instead because it’s “Christian.”

So yeah, I’m sad. Sad that the symbols of my faith, rather than being a sign that I am welcome and safe, are now warnings for me to stay away.

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