Where is my justice struggle located today as a Christian pastor and theologian?
One crucial place is in the bathroom. Bathrooms are a specific place where those whom society has decided are the “least of these,” that is, people who are not accorded equal dignity and worth, are being persecuted.
And you know what Jesus said about the “least of these,” don’t you? He was one of them. “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.” (Matt. 25:40)
But the Trump administration, far from protecting the “least of these,” actively tries to single them out for persecution. Theirs is a ‘divide and conquer’ mentality.
Their current target is transgender students.
Get it? Vulnerable kids.
So, despite its reassurances to the LGBTQ community on January 31, 2017 that President Donald Trump is “respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, this administration has removed protections for transgender students. A joint letter rescinding the Obama administration’s 2016 guidance on transgender students has been issued from the Departments of Education and Justice.
Who will oppose this wretched attack on children?
As a transgender friend of mine told me yesterday, “It was just a matter of time before the Trump administration went on the attack against the transgender community, as we are the weakest link of the LGBTQ community.”
Is the “T” silent in LGBTQ, asked the writer of the article cited above, and as my friend worries? Who will stand for justice when some are under attack?
Another friend, Rev. Susan Russell, an Episcopal priest and activist, knows solidarity, both when it is tested and when it is essential.
She just tweeted,
My transgender friend knows well her stake in this struggle. She worries, based on personal experience, that there will not be solidarity in the LGBTQ community. Trump can sniff out the “least of these” very will. So will ‘divide and conquer’ work to weaken the struggle for transgender equality?
Rev. Susan Russell knows well her stake in this struggle.
What is my stake? I am cisgender (that means a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex) white woman and I try to be an ally of the LGBTQ community, and yes, an ally of L, G, B, T and Q.
As a Christian pastor and someone who teaches people at Chicago Theological Seminary to be religious leaders, I find it very clarifying to ask the Jesus question, especially in this time when the Trump administration is trying to talk the talk of Christianity and violate the teachings of Jesus at every turn.
The Jesus question is always very concrete, very specific. When did we see YOU? Not somebody like you, or somebody to whom I should feel charitable, or somebody represented by an organization to which, if I have time, I will send a small donation.
No, actually YOU.
In his life, Jesus lamented that while ‘foxes and birds’ have ‘places to lay their heads,’ he did not. During his ministry, Jesus did not have a home where he could go and lay his head down. (Luke 9:58)
And today, Jesus doesn’t have a bathroom to go to either unless we act together, across various boundaries, to protect the rights of transgender students to have a place to go to the bathroom.
That’s my stake in this struggle. Where I find the least of these, I find Jesus.
You know, acting in solidarity in the struggle for equal human dignity and worth, may be hard, at times, but it’s not complex.