Since the beginning of the campaign season, Trump's rhetoric -- most overtly against women, "Mexicans" (by which I think he means any immigrant from Mexico, Central America, or South America), and Muslims -- has stirred up those groups of people who have been upset ever since Barack Hussain Obama took the presidency. Yes, there are White people upset that we have a Black president. Even if it is couched in other terms, many Whites harbor a racist resentment -- a feeling of impending doom for White privilege, as more Asian, Hispanic, African, African-American, Black, Brown, and Multi-racial people are born, grow up, begin to demand equal treatment, and take up positions of power. These scared folks love Trump and his dangerous policies, and Trump has made bigotry a legitimate form of discourse in the public sphere.
He has argued for a variety of morally bankrupt policies. One of the more heinous and less ambiguous positions Trump takes is on the issue of torture: "As far as I'm concerned waterboarding is absolutely fine, we should go much further." He made clear that he believes torture is a legitimate practice. Now, it is our job as United Methodists, and as Christians generally, to stand up and stand in our witness to Jesus Christ as Lord.
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith for ever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
Our help and our hope, my brothers and sisters, is in the Lord. The Creator of the heavens and the earth whose concern focuses on justice for the oppressed and food for the hungry.
Our systems of security, especially the ones that utilize and glorify torture, suggest that we are a scared, fearful people wandering without a God, looking for someone to fill the void -- to make us strong -- to make us safe. But, my brothers and sisters, is this who we are?
No. We are not a fearful people. We are fearfully and wonderfully made in order to follow our Lord. Do you remember who it is that we follow, my fellow United Methodists?
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
Those of us who are privileged to follow Jesus must be the ones standing in the face of Trump and all his hate. We are to fight bigotry at every turn -- not just within the church but out in the world.
The United Methodist Church should be known for such things.
So here is the thing. There are United Methodists standing up to the blasphemy that Donald Trump spews every day. A colleague of mine from seminary, T.C. Morrow, is one example. In her position at the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, she is "mobilizing people of faith to end torture in U.S. policy, practice and culture." This includes calling President Obama to account for his promise to the American people to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, as well as a practical devotion to inter-faith work that directly combats Trump's anti-Islamic comments. She is working to stop hate, as it is on the rise.
So there a few more things about T.C. that you should know:
1) T.C. Morrow is married to a woman.
2) She is answering a call to be an Ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church.
3) The Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry (BoOM) has recommended that her ordination process proceed.
4) On June 1st, there is one final vote at the clergy executive session of the Baltimore-Washington's Annual Conference Session that will determine if she does proceed. Historically the clergy executive session has not turned down candidates recommended by the BoOM.
As many are aware, the "United" Methodist Church made national news this past month concerning protests that broke out around the issue of homosexuality in the church. This issue has divided the church and kept many current United Methodist pastors in the closet. The division on this issue brought the UMC to the edge of schism. While the church rends itself apart arguing legalities, I recommend that we evaluate T.C. Morrow, and the many others like her, on their fruits.
Does her life witness to Christ? Well...
She labors to end torture in a time when many of us feel paralyzed and unable to stop the hate that Trump and his followers spew.
She holds the powerful -- whomever they are -- to account when many of us sit back and allow the system to continue as it is.
She is doing what the United Methodist Church needs to be known for in these times of a legitimized rhetoric of hate.
So yes. Her life is a witness to Christ. T.C. Morrow is a moral model for all United Methodists during this hate-filled election season and beyond.
Therefore, I bid the powerful clergy executive session of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference to vote yes for T.C. Morrow and for the witness to Christ she represents. Make the United Methodist Church great again by voting for love and not cowering in fear. Vote down Trump's world and choose to support God's choice in T.C. Morrow.
This act will show the world with whom the United Methodist Church stands.
Let's stand with the likes of T.C. Morrow.
Let's stand and show the world that not only do we support T.C., but that we want our church to be more like her -- she represents us as a witness of Christ's kingdom. Her life testifies to the fearful -- those who want to close the border to Muslims, who want to build a wall to keep out Mexicans, and who want to go beyond waterboarding for the sake of our "security" -- that there is a better way, a way that submits all fear to the Lord, so that we may love the world as the Lord does.
As we face this time of deliberation -- whether or not to affirm T.C.'s call and whether or not as United Methodists we will stand against Trump and all the bigotry he has promoted -- please heed T.C.'s words of prayer my brothers and sisters and let's make the United Methodist Church great again:
God of Justice and Compassion
who creates each and every person with dignity and worth
Help us to be mindful of our interconnectedness and sacredness in your eyes.
Be with us when we forget and fall short.
We come today asking for your forgiveness.
Forgive us of our sins.
Forgive us for our complicity in brutal acts of torture done in our name and in the name of our security.
Forgive us of all that keeps us apart from you, O God.
Forgive us of all that builds walls instead of opening dialogue with our sisters and brothers in our own backyards and around the world.
Receive our prayer, O God, and open our hearts
as we pray for all who have suffered torture and abuse
as we pray for all who participated in torture and abuse
as we pray for all your people around the earth.
Receive our prayer, O God.
"Prayer of Repentance" is used with permission and was originially published on the NRCAT site. The photo of T.C. Morrow is used with permission. The photo of Donald Trump is licensed for reuse.