Every morning, I wake up, turn over and pick up my phone. I have an alert set to directly receive any tweet sent by the president. Most mornings, there are two or more tweets awaiting my view.
I do this because I want to know what he said BEFORE I begin my quiet prayer time. I need to know HOW to pray and HOW to orient my mind and soul before starting my pastoral work.
Lately, however, the president’s words have been haunting more than just my morning thoughts; my daily thoughts and nighttime dreams are full of his scandalous ruminations. Every time you think it can’t get any worse, it does. Yesterday’s scandal is rapidly replaced by today’s scandal, which will be off the radar as soon as tomorrow dawns.
I hear often from friends, church members, or Facebook/Twitter friends, something like this: “This is all so upsetting, but what can we do? What can I do? What can anyone do?”
I want to answer that question. It’s important. Especially for people of faith. If you haven’t noticed, the religious folks closest to the president have been close to mum about the Charlottesville events and the president’s remarks concerning those events. The CEOs who fled the president’s councils have shown a stronger moral fiber than his religious leaders.
Yet across the country, clergy and members of churches, synagogues, and mosques have raised their voices in opposition to the president’s harmful rhetoric.
I know that you want Kessler Park UMC to be one of those faith communities that stands up on behalf of justice, so let me suggest some things that you — and I — can do today.
Let me preface my remarks with an important statement about where we stand vis-a-vis the president. What I am going to say has nothing to do with party politics or policy issues; I recognize that good Christians disagree on all sorts of issues, including immigration, taxes, abortion, and healthcare. I’m not talking about the basic differences between Republicans and Democrats.
The problem with our current president has less to do with policy issues than with morality, truth, decency, and human dignity. No person of faith can truly deny that this president has violated these norms so consistently and ruthlessly that we no longer expect him to act morally, truthfully, decently, and with dignity. It is clear that this problem will not be solved by a different chief of staff, or a steadying family member, or even opinion polls. The president has clearly signaled that he has no interest in changing or doing things differently.
Thus, Christians must now act to have the president removed from office. It’s as simple as that. The stakes are too high for things to continue as they are. He must be removed by peaceful, nonviolent, democratic, and constitutional means.
Here’s what I recommend all of us do starting today:
- Call or write your Congressperson and ask them to begin the impeachment process or invoke the 25th Amendment. Do it today. Our representatives need to begin hearing from large groups of people that the president must be removed.
- Consider attending the “In Solidarity” rally with me in Dallas on Saturday evening at 7:30 pm. The rally was originally scheduled to protest the Confederate monuments in Dallas, but now is meant to also stand as a rebuke to what happened in Charlottesville, and resist the president’s defense of white supremacy. The time for debate and conversation about the monuments and statues has passed; at this point, they simply need to come down, for the president has invested new meaning and significance in them, which solely benefits white supremacy.
- Read the Barmen Declaration, written and signed in Germany in 1934 by the brave members of the Confessing Church, which recognized the growing danger of the Nazi movement, and drew its red line in the sand. Dietrich Bonhoeffer helped write this declaration; in fact, pick up anything by Bonhoeffer to read for such a time as this.
- Pray for the president’s removal at 6:45, a.m. and p.m. When you see the clock hit 6:45, spend 5 minutes in prayer, preferably on your knees. Praying in this way will unify us, regardless of where we are when we pray, and it also serves to strengthen and embolden the one who prays. I like to think of prayer as a time when I am given my marching orders, a time of regrouping and empowerment.
- Use Scripture and theology to protest the president’s words and actions. Permit yourself to use religious imagery and faith symbols in your protests. The rest of the American white church needs to hear what we have to say in their own language.
- Finally, attend a workshop/planning session with me at the church on Sunday night, 6:30 pm in the Chapel. We will work through further steps to take in order to counter the president’s words and actions.
I recognize that this column is strongly-worded and that some of you may strongly disagree. However, I believe we are long past the point where the words and actions of this president can be legitimately defended by people who follow Jesus Christ. Something must change, or we will encounter worse words and actions tomorrow.