I didn’t sign up for this.
I’m certain of it. I checked the salvation plan at the end of the pamphlet that was handed to me by an adult who was convinced that the gesture was well- meaning because my soul was in danger. I checked my notes from my new members’ class and double checked my baptism certificate. It didn’t say any of this. I had two options: holiness or hell and it did not come in black and white, in Democrat or Republican, in liberal or conservative, in pro- life or pro- choice. That just wasn’t spelled out to me that way but was added in later.
Already baptized and in too deep, I had already dried off. It’s not like I could rinse the baptism water off, right? I had already started following Jesus. I couldn’t just take two steps back, right?
I couldn’t raise my hand and say, “This doesn’t look right. This doesn’t feel right. This doesn’t sound right.” Because we don’t question God but what about God’s people? Because this doesn’t look right or feel right or sound right.
Some Christians say that what they were doing at the U.S. Capitol Building was holy but it still feels like hell to me. A noose and death threats and the destruction of property, all made and done in the name of white patriotism and white duty and white Christianity. I do not use these color- coded terms loosely.
This is the fruit of a racialized faith. This is what happens when you tell one group that this is their “manifest destiny,” that whatever they do in service to it is their right and God’s will. This is what happens when we color in right and wrong, saying, “White is right” and “Black is bad,” when we make people colors and thereby reduce them to this single adjective, when we put it in front of and above their person and personhood.
Because the greatest descriptor and indicator of who we are as human beings is a color, right? Black person. White person. Red person. Yellow person. Brown person. Beige person.
Even with our knowledge of bias, prejudice and stereotypes, we still believe that the sociopolitical construct of race tells us all that we need to know about a person. Apparently, Jesus didn’t save us from this. Baptism doesn’t wash our hands of this. Following Jesus, we don’t walk away from this.
Let me see this list. Is race, racism, white nationalism, toxic masculinity and insurrection a part of Christian discipleship? Cross my name off. Because I cross my heart and pinky swear that this is not what I had in mind when I gave the preacher my hand and God my heart.
Now that I think about it, I was probably too young to make this deal, to understand what I was getting myself into. A twelve- year- old shouldn’t be asked to make eternal life and death decisions. Holiness or hell, heaven or hell, it was about the endgame. But what does challenging the results of a political election and overthrowing the government have to do with the kin-dom of God? I thought you just wanted to ensure that I made it into heaven.
And we’re not going to talk about it? We’re not going to preach about it? Make it a Sunday school and Bible study series? We’re just going to move on and call for unity? But unity around what and to what end? Because there is clearly still disagreement.
Maybe this is in the fine print, a part of a silent agreement. Because the churches have been segregated all of this time, denominations split along color lines. It may be because it hit closer to home this time, that it is happening at this time.
I read about the Civil War but this month’s revolution was televised and I was advised to stay home that week. Don’t go into the office. Don’t come to D.C.
But this has been there all the time. This is American Christianity in the beginning, in the middle of a pandemic and what will be with us and working against us for quite some time if we do not acknowledge these truths—but not with a Bible verse or a prayer service.
Because this is too close to call it Christianity. This is not anywhere close to what Jesus was about. This is not what he died for. This is not what I was saved for. Check his red verses. Check his hands. Check his cross. Check his tomb. And then check any version of Christianity that makes room for this.