Tag Archives: christianity

Immigration and church

The news in Christian circles this week that regular churchgoers are more likely to be tolerant of immigration than those who attend infrequently reminded me of analysis of Trump’s Christian base.

There, it was found that those who identify as Christian and attend church regularly are less likely to support Trump than Christians who do not belong to a church community.

Christians are of course, not too dissimilar to everyone else, and I find it interesting that exposure to a community of faith, and perhaps, crucially, people in that community who are different to you, seems to make a difference.

Depressingly, in both situations, the proportion of (predominantly white) Christians supporting Trump and against immigration in the UK is still high.

I’m not saying that you can’t be rightwing and a person of faith; far from it. But when the advancement of that agenda is powered and endorsed by, and in some cases deliberately dressed in racist and xenophobic language and imagery, which is a best cruel and at worst dangerous, I do wonder about the entreaty to love our neighbour.

It seems so simple, but it’s actually really hard. You don’t choose your neighbour. They are often inconvenient and may be very different to you or even unlikeable, but we are called beyond tolerance to love.

Love.

 

It’s costly and difficult and challenging but it’s meant to be our thing, isn’t it?

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Christians Doing the Most

I say this as part of the community, as a member of the tribe.

Christians can be hypocritical, judgmental, cruel, tin-eared, venal, and all the other adjectives for the base things humans do.

We can also be loving, sacrificial, compassionnate noble, kind and all the other adjectives for the inspired things humans do.

Then there’s this:

Whiskey.

Tango.

Foxtrot.

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Top Trumps

So, that happened.

As I’m writing about it in other capacities, which I will post here later, all I’ll say for now is this:

  1. It’s the done thing to say that not everyone who voted for a racist (misgoynist, fascist…) is racist (misogynist, fascist..) themselves. Ok. But these attributes were clearly not a deal breaker, which means you are….racist-adjacent? I think that nuance has been lost on the KKK, who are now loud and proud, alongside your garden-variety casual bigot. It would be great if less time was spent trying to carefully whittle out the nuances of the Trump voters and coddle their feelings and more time spent looking out for the minorities who feel thrown under the bus – or, perhaps even challenging racism as emphatically NOT the response to any grievance, real or perceived. NB: Loss of privilege is not persecution.
  2. It wasn’t a working class revolution. Nor was it about the “left behind”. The one thing that trumped every identity (Christian, women) was whiteness. But apparently, this isn’t white supremacy. So… is this white supremacist-adjacent? That nuance has been lost on minorities, who overwhelmingly voted for decency (and yes, email scandal or no, I’ll take average politician over cinnamon Hitler).
  3. We need playwrights, artists, poets and comedians more than ever to tell us the truths we need to hear. The New Yorker’s 16 essays on Trump’s America is a good start.
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Marginal Church

So, this is new. I don’t often write about faith or church and it’s mainly because I’ve been searching for the language. But I think I’ll be writing a bit more on this theme in 2016.

A few days ago Vicky Beeching, the theologian and LGBT activist, posted this:

We (the church) need to stop doing this. In one tweet, Vicky poignantly showed how it feels to be marginalised and dehumanised by your community.

The world at large is still not a safe place for the LGBTQI community – the Home Office’s own figures showed a rise in homphobic hate crimes last year. The church should be a welcome haven that affirms the humanity of every individual, not fuelling homophobia.

As a starting point.

It’s not just about welcome; it’s about feeling at home.

As Dianna E Anderson writes, if your church is not for the marginalised, operating on the margins, then you’re doing something, but it’s not church; “If your church is not of the marginalised, then you are not of the church”.

Addressing the complaint that from some quarters that the church is becoming marginalised in popular culture she writes:

Here’s the thing: I believe that the church is the haven of the marginalized. It is not the powerful seeking to maintain power. It is the world of those outcast by society, the poor, the hungry, the destitute, the spurned. Jesus himself decried political and statist power within the church, and focused on the margins, calling women, working class men, tax collectors, lepers, and the disabled. Church is – or should be – the home of the marginalized.

Although her post if focused on the American Church, I believe there is a lot that’s relevant to the debate here.

 

 

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