As I’ve written about (probably far too) extensively, the campaign and election of Donald Trump marked a massive turning point in my relationship with evangelical Christianity. In summary, I’ve been fairly angry and disappointed for coming up on four years now. 🎉
To be clear, my open wound isn’t about politics, though I of course violently disagree with almost everything the administration has done. Instead, what I’ve experienced is a sort of prolonged mourning for the (now shattered) perceptions I had of many fellow Christians, and how I was foolishly naive about the places I believed their spiritual journeys had ultimately led them.
I’ve always been painfully aware of how evangelicals are viewed by much of the world, and as someone that’s gone through some pretty extreme scrupulosity in my own life (a topic for another time), I’d sometimes beat myself up for not being better at evangelizing, or feeling embarrassed to bring up being a Christian in a world where the Westboro Baptist Church (and so much other justifiably negative baggage around religion) exists.
Mental struggles aside though, in general I was alright, as I was reasonably confident that the Christians in my general orbit were different. Having genuinely wrestled with Biblical passages and participated in countless discussions on matters of faith, these people had soft hearts, open minds and an understanding that each day brings a new chance to improve.
Then came the election, and I was faced with the ugly truth that many of those around me had indeed unapologetically boarded the Trump train, and (with a few lovely exceptions) those that were disturbed decided to remain silent, prioritizing the avoidance of divisiveness over hard, but essential conversations.
I’ve had a number of good 1:1 conversations over the past few years, and even seen glimmers of hope appear around the edges (toe in the water conversations about race, climate change or the danger of anti-vaccination misinformation), but to be frank, Rome is burning while people fiddle around with tact.
At our local church, one of the things I enjoy is breaking into smaller groups to have more involved conversations. OK, that’s a total lie, since as an introvert it fills me with existential dread each time, but I can’t argue with its value. So in an effort to shake up the usual conversations and address the elephant(s) in the room, I’d love to propose some new topics to discuss:
- What’s the line between respecting leaders/governments and fighting clear-cut immorality?
- How is continuing to spread misinformation (even after being made aware of its untruth) not sinful?
- How would you have ruled in the case of the Colorado baker? How did you arrive at that opinion?
- How do you feel about what’s going on with immigrants at our Southern border right now? Why do you feel that way?
- What do you think about Christians that avoid the Internet? What’s good about this? What’s bad about this?
- Do you think that currently agreed-upon interpretations of Bible verses can (or should) change? If so, do you have any examples?
- Do you think the church’s general silence on social justice issues that cross into politics has an effect on evangelism efforts?
Here’s to turning nervous whispers into righteous shouts. 🤞