The Trump years should be a wake up call to all of us, particularly to comfortable white churches. Trump did not create, but revealed cracks in the foundation of much of what makes the church comfortable. Most of us have been citizens of the empire than ambassadors of a new age of loving justice for all. Here are some things I believe American churches can do to be ambassadors for the weak instead of apologists for the strong.
1. Get rid of all images of a white Jesus anywhere on our property.
2. Stop calling God “He.” When we imagine the sacred as male, we unconsciously lift human biological masculinity into the Godhead. The church is a subtle accomplice to the abuse of women when it uses language that empowers men and disempowers women.
3. Stop saying Jesus is the only way. What Jesus was really saying is that radical and universal Love is the only way.
4. Take the flag out of the pulpit area. Patriotism is fine, but healthy faith is a call to serve ALL people equally. And we need to remember that a nation is not great because it is rich or powerful. The prophets taught that a nation is only great if it cares for its people (including its weakest members) and is a good neighbor to the world community.
5. Stop teaching that faith means holding on to untestable beliefs in spite of contradictory evidence. We need to teach instead that faith is radically honest trust in the power of love.
6. Stop teaching versions of atonement that turn God into a vindictive monster. The cross was invented by Rome to punish rebellion not by God to punish human sin. The cross is symbol of our sacred call to be on the side of the weak in dismantling every hierarchy of oppression.
7. Stop equating miracles with violations of nature. If we are going to help save our planet we must see nature as sacred not profane.
8. Stop saying that the church should not be political. The church should not be partisan, it is true, but when Moses went to Pharaoh saying to let the enslaved people go, he was being political. If Moses had obeyed the authorities there would have been no Exodus.
9. Stop pretending we understand God. God is a symbol of the creative mystery of things whatever that is. If we could put that intuition into a clearly stated dogma it wouldn’t be a mystery.
10. Stop making appeals to fear of whatever it is we do not understand. Faith is not belief in what the church has already taught, but trusting that love casts out fear if we follow it into the future.