The United States has now lost 150,000 people — almost three times the number of people we lost during the Vietnam War – due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic is spreading unchecked across the nation. Meanwhile, national, state and local political leaders are about to send students, teachers and school staff into it.
Across the nation, people fear being evicted from their homes and apartments because national, state and local politicians refuse to provide ways for them to avoid that plight — even as the politicians insist that schools reopen for in-person learning.
Across the nation, people are protesting abusive and homicidal behavior by law enforcement agents. We have witnessed immigrant children being separated from their parents by federal law enforcement agents. We have witnessed state and local law enforcement agents brutalize people who are engaging in peaceful protests. President Donald Trump and other politicians have used isolated incidents of vandalism by marauders as excuses to have federal agents invade local communities, detain, violently attack and threaten people in an attempt to “dominate” the civilian population and suppress dissent.
It is past time for faithful people to admit and loudly declare the obvious truth that the United States is suffering from self-inflicted wounds traceable to what I term “hateful faith.”
“The United States is suffering from self-inflicted wounds traceable to what I term ‘hateful faith.’”
We had abundant evidence of Donald Trump’s moral, intellectual and ethical incompetence long before he became a presidential candidate in 2015. Despite that evidence, four out of five white people who self-identified as “evangelical Christians” voted for him to become president of the United States.
They knew Trump is a sociopath (as in liar, bully, cheat and abuser).
They knew about his multiple business failures.
They knew about his misogyny and other abusive treatment of women and girls.
They knew about his history of personal and commercial racism, bigotry and discrimination against people of color.
Self-proclaimed “evangelical Christians” embraced Donald Trump the same way they flocked to Ronald Reagan’s hostility toward civil rights, worker justice, women’s rights and regulation of corrupt and oppressive business and political behavior two generations ago.
Self-proclaimed “evangelical Christians” rejected calls from Jimmy Carter and Al Gore to protect the environment when they supported the presidential aspirations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
Since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, self-proclaimed “evangelical Christian conservatives” have supported U.S. politicians at the local, state and national levels who trafficked in fearmongering, racism, sexism and patriarchy, and capitalized mass incarceration.
These self-proclaimed “evangelical Christians” intentionally supported politicians and policies associated with defunding and re-segregating public education, oppressing workers and demonizing people whose lives are defined by poverty, disease and systemic disregard.
They deliberately attacked our LGBTQ neighbors as existential threats.
And they blindly supported every call to war-making adventurism with no regard for the human, fiscal, moral and other costs.
“People who choose hellish-minded leaders should not be surprised when they are led into hellish situations.”
We should not be surprised that the health, safety, prosperity and peace of the U.S. population is threatened. People who choose hellish-minded leaders should not be surprised when they are led into hellish situations.
This nation rejected prophetic appeals from Adam Clayton Powell, Martin Luther King Jr., Barbara Jordan and John Lewis — Black followers of Jesus who were despised and denounced by white “evangelical Christians” as “liberal.”
The rest of the world has no sympathy for the United States now with good reason. Whether they know about Norman Vincent Peale, Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and John Hagee or not, the rest of the world knows that the United States is reeling from the effects of hateful faith practiced by “evangelical Christians.”
We deserve pity, but we do not deserve sympathy. Our problems were not forced on us. They are self-inflicted wounds stemming from hateful faith.
Unlike the “evangelical Christians” who embrace religious nationalism, white supremacy, free market capitalism, manifest destiny and militarism, patriarchy and sexism (including homophobia and transphobia), technocentrism and xenophobia, I believe the religion of Jesus offers “a more excellent” alternative to the self-inflicted wounds caused by the hateful faith of “evangelical Christians.”
My passion is to work and hope in every breath and heartbeat with people who boldly and hopefully follow God’s radical way of extravagant hospitality, death-proof hope and empire-defying love.
I am a follower of Jesus, the radical Palestinian prophet who embraced outcasts, healed sick people without charge and condemned religious, national and commercial notions of empire.
I am a follower of Jesus, the prophet who was killed because of a state-sanctioned and hateful faith instigated lynching and who refused to stay dead.
My mission is to treat and heal wounds caused by hateful faith and to dismantle the systems that created and sustain them.
What is your mission?
Wendell Griffen is an Arkansas circuit judge and pastor of New Millennium Church in Little Rock.