An Open Letter To The Evangelical Church, From The Black Girl In Your Pew

I love you too much to not bring this to your attention.
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Dear Evangelical Church,

For over 20 years, I have grown with you, gotten married with you, raised my kids with you, suffered loss and indescribable healing and restoration with you. I have witnessed miracles with you. I have gone on missions with you. I have saved souls with you. I love you. And it is because of this that I can (and must) write this letter to you.

I love you too much to not bring this to your attention.

I am a black, middle class woman. I am married to a black man who is a law enforcement officer. I am a Christian and an activist. I sit in the complicated intersection of being that seems to make you uncomfortable. I am both black lives matter and blue lives matter. I am both pro-life and pro-entire life. I am both conservative with my views, but liberal with my love. And today I wonder if there is really room for those who are more like me than you in the church.

I know that for the conservative church, today is a day of celebration. You are waving the victory flag. But today, the day after the election of Donald Trump for president, is not the day to gloat. No, not today.

It’s not a day to tell your brothers and sisters how to feel. It’s not a day to tell them that they should not be afraid. They are afraid of a future that does not include them. They are afraid of a return to a time in our history where their civil rights were not protected. They are afraid for their safety and health and mental well-being.

Today is not the day to try and compare your feelings of eight years ago to their feelings today. Your life, your citizenship, your very existence was not minimized, marginalized or under attack; and it is not today.

In fact, if we’re honest (and this one is going to hurt a bit), not only was your existence never under attack, but your success has been stitched into the very fabric of this country and tied off on the backs of the black and brown people whose feelings you are downplaying today.

So, if your words today do not demonstrate love, compassion and kindness towards those who don’t experience life like you, then you should not be speaking them today. Because in the absence of grace, your words ring hollow as the clanging cymbal of privilege.

Patronizing Patriotic posts from your position of power are not welcome here today. No, not today.

Because the truth of the matter is, while you may be claiming a win for the church, the church cannot win if the body is hemorrhaging. And the church cannot turn a blind eye to the needs (and feelings) of its poor, immigrant, disabled, brown and female members. Not today.

So, as you prepare for your mid-week bible studies and your Sunday morning sermons, I need to ask you something. I need to know. What will your first words be to us when you see us face-to-face? When you come from behind the screens and look into our eyes, what will you say?

Will you stand behind the safety of your pulpit and tell us all to pray? Will you talk about how truth and justice and Christian values prevailed?

Or will you come down to the pews and wrap your arms around the survivor who is feeling triggered and vulnerable and unsafe? Will you sit with her, hear her story, and just seek to understand?

Will you kneel down and comfort that nine year old boy of Mexican descent, who is afraid that his family is going to be deported back to Mexico? Will you, dear church, take his hand in yours and never let it go?

Will you lock arms with that Saudi family and stand with them in the face of hate and prejudice? Will you demonstrate to them a love that knows no national or political boundaries?

That mom with a disabled son or a trans daughter . . . will you assure her and her family that they have a place, with you, to belong and be safe?

In the aftermath of this election, what will be more telling than what ballot bubble you filled in, will be how you step into the hurt, despair, fear, and life of those inside and outside of your walls that don’t look like you.

Church, you have an opportunity here. You can stand staunchly on your platform with joviality, singing a victor’s song today or you can roll up your sleeves and do the hard work of building a bridge of unity so that the church can become a credible witness to true biblical oneness. Starting today, you can engage in the real, raw, and hard work of reconciliation and be a light during a dark time. Today, you can truly exemplify the love and compassion and goodness that is Jesus. Today.

Yesterday, the nation cast a decisive vote for Trump.

But I ask you, will you cast a resolute and determined vote for love of all people today? So that tomorrow, those with broken hearts can talk about how truth and justice and Christian values prevailed?

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Rev. Karlene Clark

Christian Women Preach

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