I Was Deceived by White Christianity, Yet I Still Have a Spiritual Inheritance. So Do You.
“I don’t know if I believe in healing anymore” — EBB
“Where does whiteness end… and theology begin?” — Brandi Miller
“Theology is human speech, and not God speaking” — James H. Cone
- You ever wake up in the middle of the night seething with rage at the church, which you left more than 10 years ago?
- It’s weird because you presumed you were 100% over it as you are living your big queer life like it’s all you’ve ever known.
- But you’re still pissed at Christians, especially white Christians (and super especially the ones who unequivocally support Trump). You don’t know how to talk to them unless they are activist-y, and don’t force God talk allover you. You accept that they are people too, but they are your shadow Other.
- So instead, you study their culture via podcasts and articles, because the more you understand how they work, the less likely they can hurt you again. They lament how the church is going out of fashion in the US. Hearing that used to make you feel a puff of triumph, but now it just feels sad, even though you’re not exactly sure who the sadness is for.
- Because, in your very young life, the church, the Chinese Evangelical version, gave you a larger purpose, shared meaning, endless mystery. Most importantly, it gave you a beloved community that you have never experienced since.
- But then, the white American church you encountered later stole from you every moment that it could, it stole what you never knew was yours until it was mostly gone. It stamped you into a mold of inescapable unnamable whiteness, one cloaked in the ritual of morality and universality of (white straight wealthy able-bodied male) experience.
- Your white Christian friends, at the time, loved you so much and hurt you so much because that’s what they were taught to do. And you were made to move toward whiteness.
- By whiteness, you mean domination, disembodiment, fear of sexual pleasure, the gender binary, manifest destiny, the protection of generational wealth, extreme isolation, willful and guilt-free ignorance. You will stop using the word whiteness if the church in America ever stops perpetuating those things and making this country uninhabitable for those at the margins.
- So whiteness and the church still lives inside of you after all, even though you thought they would eventually die unattended. Both made you who you are, which you must accept, but not who you are becoming, which is a hope.
- Still you must learn to love that part of yourself, which is still very much you. ❤
- Protestant Christianity has had its way with you, and its time is up. It doesn’t deserve your attention or devotion any longer, beyond your final task of reclaiming a version based on liberation/queer/Womanist theology and an actual pursuit for justice vs. comfort and prosperity.
- You thank Christianity for introducing you to the character of Jesus, who embodies what a healer and lover could do in this world of pain, who refused to bow down to powerful leaders and made friends with those discarded by society.
- You are so, so hungry for spiritual community, that it becomes a constant physical ache. You and your partner start going to a local Universalist Unitarian church, so you can sing some songs in a group. And they don’t trigger you with God talk. So far, so good.
- Your favorite new hymn (?) is: “Be ours a religion / which like sunshine goes everywhere / its temple all space / its shrine the good heart / its creed all truth / its ritual works of love.” Sounds too good to be true — yep, the congregation is a sea of white faces. Homily with a side of microaggression.
- As a queer, trans person of color, you deserve a spiritual home and community. You deserve access to spiritual leaders who look and love like you, who live in your neighborhood and not just on Instagram. You deserve spiritual leaders who aren’t still willfully ignorant of their biases and dole out sustenance and harm in the same breath.
- You won’t stop looking for a place that could offer you belonging, a beloved community and spiritual support for the long-haul fight against the network of powers that are killing and slowly choking out your kin.
- And if you can’t find it, you’ll do whatever it takes to conjure that space up for not only you, but all the other queer and trans people you love who are struggling to survive and move through trauma, whose brilliance and creativity the world does not deserve. Honestly.
- Morality and ethics exist, outside of and sometimes, despite of religion. Love, forgiveness, compassion, humility and redemption are not the sole property of Christianity or any religious tradition, especially where dominant power is concentrated.
- More to come in 2021.