• Liz Vaiz

An Open Letter to My White Evangelical Brothers and Sisters: From a Latina Christian

To say, “I’m tired,” would be an understatement.

Watching Trump and his administration, over the past few months, unleash fear and panic, over a community that I love, pastor, and do life with, has been unbearable to witness. The past weeks, have been particularly exhausting, both emotionally and physically. It has been infuriating to see him traumatize a group of people (who by the way, contribute in significant ways to the success of our economy) with threats of raids, deportation, and even worse still, family separation. He then turns around and calls off the raids, just to do it all over again. And while the world rails over twitter wars or the latest controversy, my immigrant community continues to be traumatized and brown men, women, and children continue to be locked in cages.

I find the policies that Trump and his administration have authored, supported, and carried out, to be evil and reprehensible. And although I am grieved beyond what I could ever imagine, I am hardly surprised.

What has been more of a surprise to me, personally, is how painful it’s been to witness the silence of the evangelical church, a community I loved and once held dear.

Evangelicals, I keep thinking, surely, they can see the injustice. Surely, they will champion the oppressed, the brokenhearted, and the downtrodden. Surely, they will know what Jesus would do (and does). Surely, at some point, they will say, “Ok, things have gone too far! We have to speak out!” But none of that has happened.

Many people who have expressed love and deep affection for me have remained silent during this time. This has been painful for me. They don’t understand that to love me and my brown skin is to love and embrace the brown-skinned people of which I am a part and who I represent, regardless of their status.

It’s confusing to me that evangelicals are willing to, boisterously and enthusiastically, fight for what they want when it comes to abortion and sexuality. But despite ALL the biblical mandates to accept the foreigner and fight for the oppressed they look the other way when it comes to their immigrant brothers and sisters. They have done little, if anything, to speak up and publicly challenge the current administration’s cruel immigration policies and inhumane treatment of immigrant men, women, and children. So many children!

I have wrestled with the church’s treatment of people of color and the injustices we face, even before the election of Donald Trump. I've looked for ways to explain it away. I've looked for the reasons why. I thought if I explained it better, or brought more awareness and attention to it, then people would see. “Maybe they just don’t know,” I told myself. “Maybe they just aren’t aware of what is happening,” I reasoned. But sadly, I have found, that is not the case.

Now here we are. Shocking images, across newspapers and social media, of brown men, women, and children (so many niños hermosos)—our shame exposed for the whole world to see. Human beings in cages, sick and dying, filthy, and in deplorable conditions. It can no longer be hidden. It can no longer be ignored or denied. Yet, that is what most of the church does when confronted with the ugly truth. Evangelicals vilify those already beaten down and oppressed for breaking the law (even though seeking asylum is a legal right). They defend and justify this administration’s cruel and unjust actions! They spread fear and misinformation about a community already broken. Then they squabble over who started it, pout that it’s the Liberal’s fault, or claim Obama’s agenda was worse. And if they aren’t doing those things, they simply remain silent.

I've waited for some time, to receive a text, a message, an email, from people who have called themselves my brothers and sisters saying, “Hey, I’m not sure what I can do to make it better, but I am sorry for what you and your community is going through. How can I help?” Or how about “I’m sorry for your pain,” or “How are your folks doing? Anything I can do?” But so few have come—from a community in which I have spent most of my life.

I have decided that I must say goodbye to this faith tradition I once held so dear. I will not grieve the beliefs I once held. I’ve already done that work. But I will grieve the relationships it is time to part ways with. I've just accepted that it is time to move on, heal those spaces, and recover strength and courage because the fight ahead is long. Let me be clear, I am not walking away from Jesus. I have not lost my faith in Him; in fact, I think for the first time I have found my faith! I now know that the “white Jesus” I once believed in, the Jesus who is complicit to the oppression and pain of the weak, is not the same Jesus I have found in the margins. I will gladly take up my cross and follow the real Jesus, a brown-skinned man from the margins.

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