The day after Trump’s impeachment, my husband and I faced each other in the early hours of the morning, a decision settling between us. It was one we’d been stalling to make; a decision that was breaking our hearts as it slowly festered within layers of hurt, betrayal, and loss.
It was time to leave the church.
Perhaps we’d made this decision weeks before when we chose to take a break from attending service. Or maybe it was a little longer than that when I slowly decreased my faithful tithe until I just stopped tithing altogether. Or maybe it was a decision that was years in the making, when we pulled back from the community within the church, bowing out of life groups and all social gatherings within the church.
I think it started in 2016 when Trump was elected as our president, and I began to see the people I worshiped next to, the ones who followed the same Jesus I follow, suddenly on fire for a man they said was bringing God and prayer back into the White House.
What HE said
Jesus said, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40).” Trump said, “When you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away (VOX).”
When asked “Who is my neighbor?”, Jesus told the story of the Samaritan who showed compassion to a gravely injured man (Luke 10:29–37). In response to the disaster in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the US territory, Trump shamed the thrashed territory for wanting “everything to be done for them (Twitter).” This sentiment was echoed in Trump’s response to my home state of California after the Kincade fire: “Every year, as the fire’s rage & California burns, it is the same thing-and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more. Get your act together Governor. You don’t see close to the level of burn in other states.” (Twitter)
As if climate change isn’t real…
When it comes to women, Jesus’ high regard for women was shown throughout the Gospels, including the story of grace and forgiveness for the prostitute anointing his feet with her tears and perfume (Luke 7: 36–50), Jesus’ reliance on the women who provided for him and the twelve disciples (Luke 8: 1–3), and the story of Mary and Martha that defied traditional gender roles (Luke 10:42).
And Trump’s view on women?
“I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” (NY Times)
“(Arianna Huffington) is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man — he made a good decision.” (Twitter)
“I did try and fuck her… I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married.” (NY Times)
In regards to violence, Jesus commanded followers to “turn the other cheek” when someone wrongs you (Matthew 5:38–40), ordered Peter to put away his sword when the soldiers came to take him away (Matthew 26:52), and asked his Father to “forgive them” as he hung dying on the cross (Luke 23:34).
During his campaign, Trump said, “By the way if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the second amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know,” in the event Hillary Clinton was elected (Rolling Stone).
The second amendment refers to gun laws. What do you think Trump was implying?
In the wake of Trump’s policies
During Trump’s presidency, he has mandated travel bans that have affected US citizens of certain ethnicities, released a budget and tax plan that benefits the rich and punishes the poor and middle class, has rolled back numerous rights to LGBTQ citizens, terminated the Temporary Protected Status designation to immigrants of certain countries affected by armed conflict or natural disaster, and mandated the longest government shutdown in US history over the proposed border wall between the US and Mexico, thus hurting millions of federal workers and contractors, plus their families and communities (The Leadership Conference of Civil & Human Rights).
Over the past two+ years of Trump’s campaigning and presidency, I have watched slack-jawed over Trump’s normalization of racism, sexism, and violence, along with his habitual lies, unfounded expertise, and attacks on journalism (silencing our country’s eyes and ears through manifested doubt). Most of all, I have been appalled by his complete lack of morality, which includes numerous counts of infidelity, fraud, tax evasion, his allegiance with enemies of the United States, intimidation, hush money, and bribes — the last of which has led to his impeachment.
God in the White House
But as shocked as I’ve been over Trump’s lack of humanity and morality, even more dismaying has been seeing people I love and worship with, who serve the same God as I do, applauding our current administration, saying things like, “Trump has brought God back into the White House,” and believing he is actually making America Great Again — as if it’s been so terrible, and now it’s how it should be. The very people who have attended sermons with me that have included Jesus’ commands to clothe the poor and feed the hungry are also celebrating Trump’s crackdown on immigration that has placed human beings in cages, separated children from parents, and denied safety to refugees fleeing horrendous situations. How can these people believe God is in the White House when so many are hurting in the wake of Trump’s policies? How can they see God in a man who has repeatedly cheated on his wife, makes sexual comments about his own daughter, and has been accused of sexual assault, harassment, and rape?
Frankly, how can Christians, who claim Jesus is the way, also see Trump as the way?
Our decision to leave the church
This morning, an elderly member of my church posted on Facebook about her dismay over the impeachment. She was one of many, but hers stung the most because she’s a woman I’ve seen Jesus in, and who I hold dear to my heart. She became the final nail in this coffin of my church going days, settling in beside the other members of my faith who I once looked up to. I’m hurt by the ones who are vocal about their support for Trump. I’m even more hurt over the ones who remain silent.
What will be said about Trump’s impeachment on Sunday morning? Likely nothing. But we won’t know because we won’t be there.
The last time we stepped inside the church was October. My husband and I wanted to take a break just to see how it felt. We assumed it would be temporary, that we were just burned out and we’d somehow rediscover the fire we’ve felt during sermons and worship of the past. This was the church where we were married, where we’ve met some of our best friends, and where we’ve discovered passionate callings in serving Jesus by serving others. My husband, one of the original members, has attended this church for over 20 years. As for me, I found my home in this church when he invited me to start attending with him. I thought it was my forever home of faith. Our quiet departure has gone unnoticed, thanks in part to our gradual pulling back over the years. Perhaps we’ll be noticed when it’s realized our tithe is no longer there, but I don’t wish for the attention. I’d rather just slip away so we can lick our wounds in private, and find a new way to seek God and community in this new world we’ve found ourselves in.
We are in mourning. Not just over church, but over what Christianity has become. Or maybe our eyes have just been opened. I feel like I’m seeing things so many others have seen for so long. I think I finally get how some people have felt hurt or betrayed by the church, because that’s how I feel. I’m having a hard time reconciling my faith with our current political state, and I’m questioning everything.
All I can do is cling to Jesus.