I talk with people who have been hurt by religion.
I talk with them quite a bit, actually. It’s part of what I do, and I’m grateful to be a space where people can be brave and safe and admit their doubts, frustrations, fears, and, yes, moments when they’ve been beaten and bruised (both metaphorically and in real life) by religion.
I also talk with folx who have been hurt by what they consider to be hostile political policies these last four years.
And, let’s just get it out of the way, while a less-than-equitable tax code is certainly not fair, and certainly takes advantage of the poor and vulnerable, that’s not the kind of hostility I’m talking about.
What I’m talking about is making fun of a disabled person by the President of the United States.
What I’m talking about is having the phrase “Muslim ban” being thrown around in the halls of power with conviction rather than concern.
What I’m talking about is barring transgender people from serving in the military, and announcing it by Tweet, the way you or I might announce the latest cute thing our kid said into the ether of the world.
What I’m talking about is a President ordering the dispersion of peaceful protestors by MILITARY FORCE so he could take a walk and hold up a Bible for a political headline.
What I’m talking about is the systemic libel of our democratic systems in an attempt to keep and consolidate power.
This is not “snowflake” sort of stuff. These are triggers. They’re abusive behavior.
And the reason I bring it up is because, well, I’ve heard some people tell those who struggle with religion, often due to the coercion or the abuse they felt in those hallowed halls, that they should just “get over it.”
Or that they should “forget about it and move on.”
One of the interesting things about abuse is that, while many of the marks that you can see fade with time, the marks that aren’t visible seem to last.
Imagine waking up every morning not knowing if your spouse was going to hit you or cook you breakfast. Do you think that feeling just immediately leaves when you’re out of that situation?
That crap lingers!
Now replace that “spouse” with the Divine, and instead of breakfast or a slap, it’s a “blessing” or “eternal damnation.” You think that just goes away if you stop going to church?
That crap lingers!
Now replace “the Divine” with the voice from the Oval Office who literally pulls the strings of power in the nation…
…yeah, yeah, save your “separate but equal” lip-service for another blog; I intend to be real. This last administration (much like the Jackson administration they so emulated) has shown that the Executive Branch is the mightiest on the tree when there hasn’t been adequate pruning…
…and imagine that instead of “blessing” and “eternal damnation” it’s replaced by “emboldened privileged existence” and “open season for outright abuse.”
Why do you think racists could march un-hooded through the streets without fear? Why do you think Confederate battle flags and Neo-Nazi flags marched alongside Trump flags when they stormed the Capitol?
Why do you think that hate crimes rose by 20% the last four years?
So, when people say, “He’s out of office, just move on…” to that I say:
THAT CRAP LINGERS!
And abuse that is not addressed, somehow, continues to harm long past its life-expectancy.
And anyone who says, “words are just words” has never sat with a spouse who was continually dressed down and verbally shamed for years. They’ve never stood next to a kid who was mocked for how they look or what religion they practice (or don’t) or how their family is composed.
Words hurt, Beloved. They move people, for good or for ill. Words have power, they change things, and trying to pretend they don’t is like saying that the abuser isn’t at fault because the ones who are hit let the blows land.
I write all this as a way of explaining why it’s still important that we have some sort of discussion…no, not discussion, a “come to Jesus” about what has happened the last four years.
About why we can’t just “move on,” because we have the serious tendency to “move back again” if we just try to move on.
I write this for everyone wondering why it still matters enough to mention. It still matters because, to be honest, I cringe when I turn on the news, even now, because I wonder what other right has eroded, what safeguard has been crushed, what minority group has been scapegoated…
And, no, elections will not fully prevent those things from happening, but we have seen what happens when an election accelerates it!
And, Beloved, it lingers. In the soul. In the spirit. In the head. In the heart.