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July 4, 2019

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A Trump supporter and protesters argue at the July 4th event in DC. 
“Scenes of Trump’s Fourth of July Celebration” from the New York Times.  "White House officials say President Trump plans a nonpolitical speech that honors the American military and celebrates — on behalf of everyone — the country’s 243rd birthday. He is scheduled to speak for about 20 minutes, interrupted by dramatic flyovers of military aircraft and one of the planes that serve as Air Force One.”
In an event that seems much like his “Make America Great Again” rallies, the question is, “Will he treat his Fourth of July address differently? Or will the celebration of Independence Day become a celebration of the Trump administration, filled with the usual boasts and grievances that are becoming the centerpieces of his re-election campaign?"

He shall judge between many peoples,
   and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
   and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
  neither shall they learn war any more.
 Micah 4:3

On one level, it is hard for many of us to understand the white evangelical support for Donald Trump that carried him into the Presidency and remains strong still today. In an episode of The Ezra Klein Show this week, Ezra Klein and Robert Jones, head of the Public Religion Research Institute, discussed the vast differences in moral foundations between those on the political left and those on the (far more religiously homogenous) right. They noted that those on the right believe in a certain order that must be held in society for things to be as they should be. They used the example of right's opposition to marriage equality, which is not based in fear that a gay marriage would threaten the individual marriages of heteronormative couples, but rather because it violates what they perceive to be the right order of things: a strict structure that we on the left recognize as patriarchy.

The religious right, comprised largely of white evangelicals, do not share the same theological foundation as those on the left. The god of white evangelicals is the god of white patriarchy. White patriarchy necessitates the dehumanization of women and all minorities outside of white patriarchy's confines. As America has progressed with steps like women’s rights, Civil Rights for black Americans, and marriage equality, the hold of white patriarchy has loosened ever so slightly. At every turn of this progress, however, white evangelical backlash has brought physical violence and terror through public policy upon those seeking liberation. We are living it still today.

The god of the white evangelicals has failed them: no amount of prayer from the religious right has achieved their political ends. Even so, the marriage of white evangelicals to the politics of the modern Republican party has insidiously entrenched itself over time, clinging to power even as demographic change and political awakening continues to achieve steps towards equality for all. White evangelicals are so afraid of losing their power and privilege over American society that they have ejected any pretense of theological or moral values in their support of Donald Trump. They have made an idol of white patriarchy above all else, including even the Bible they claim to hold so dear.

The whiteness of this movement cannot be minimized. Support for Trump is racist to its core and the Administration is as racist as can be in its continuous assault against the personhood of all those who are “other” to them. This has made a chasm between the right and the left, a chasm that is perceptibly impossible to bridge. There is an overwhelming difference in the deepest, most foundational beliefs at the very bottom of everything for right and left.

As we move forward, we must vastly improve political organizing and voting on the left. That much is clear. But perhaps those of us who consider themselves religious might seriously consider that significant and lasting gains will not be made until there is a religious conversion among white evangelicals, a conversion that brings a large number of people away from the sinful idolization of white patriarchy that animates their hopes and fears for our country.
Shall the white evangelicals win? No one can say. But, as a parade inspired by dictators around the globe highlights American Empire in our nation's capital on the 4th of July, we must admit that the left has not been winning much of late. Politically and religiously, we must be organized and courageous for the fight ahead. The fate of our great American experiment and every life within it are at stake.
The signing of the Declaration of Independence was not a signal of freedom for everyone living in the land that would become the United States, especially indigenous and enslaved people, but we have the chance today to continuing building a country that does preserve freedom for all. We know, though, that we can't do that work alone. Take today to build up your network of those fighting for freedom and justice: seek out at least one local organization near you doing justice work and reach out to see how you can be more involved.  

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme

That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.) 


From Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes

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