White Christian Friend, I Hear Your Silence.

When people are pressed up against nightmares in the daylight—words are powerful, but they can’t hold a candle to silence.

Silence can be a far more brutal weapon in doing them damage.

White Christian friend, I want you to know that I hear yours right now.

I’ve heard it since November 9th, 2016, actually.

Since that day, I’ve witnessed your steady and staggering lack of volume—while the world has been turned upside down for so many people.

As refugee families were stranded at the airport,
as marching Nazis were coddled by the President,
as protections for the land and the water were erased,
as healthcare was sabotaged in the middle of the night—
I’ve scanned your face and your social media profile for any evidence of outrage, any semblance of compassion, and urgency whatsoever.
I’ve leaned in and held my breath, waiting to hear you speak some opposition or voice any disgust.
Every day I’ve looked for a tipping point in your heart, when you would finally break your silence and speak.

Nothing.

Nothing about predatory Alabama Senators.
Nothing about multi billion dollar border walls.
Nothing about sexual assault accusations against the President.
Nothing about ICE raids in hospital rooms.
Nothing about Evangelical preachers defending discrimination.
Nothing about Tweet taunts of North Korea.
Nothing about the expulsion of Dreamers.
Nothing about Medicaid erosion.
Nothing about tearful airport family goodbyes.

Nothing about shithole countries comments by the leader of the Free World.

It’s as if three years ago you vanished, as if you you’ve become a practical ghost: here, but having no tangible effect on the planet, other than your silence and disappearance.

I’m not sure if you’re embarrassed and hiding, secretly jubilant, or frozen with fear, but in a way none of that matters. The result is the same: you have declared yourself a conscientious objector in the war for other people’s well-being. You’ve barricaded yourself in the bunker of your privilege and you think no one notices.

I do.

I notice because I know you.
I’ve sat alongside you in church.
I’ve heard the religion you profess.
I know the faith you claim in a dark-skinned Jesus who lived among the marginalized and the poor.
I know how many weeks you spent on mission trips in those supposed “shithole countries,” being humbled and blessed by those beautiful people.
I know how moved you claimed to be at the thought of young women being trafficked: the faceless #MeToos thousands of miles away.
I know how willingly you recited that God so loved the world—a world far bigger than America.
I know how often you read the stories of foreigners finding welcoming, of Jesus turned away at the inn, of angels being entertained in the guise of needy strangers.
I know how many times you’ve heard Jesus’ call to love the least; those forgotten and oppressed and pushed to the margins.
I know how diametrically opposite this America is to that message.

And I know that despite your complete Monday through Saturday silence—that you’ll be really loud come this Sunday.

This Sunday, you’ll again find yourself in a room (probably filled with other white Christians), and you’ll raise your hands skyward and bellow loudly and shout your amens.
You’ll be boisterous in claiming to bear witness to a non-Christian, Middle Eastern Jesus, who calls you to be transformative salt and light in toxic, dark places;
who demands you be a visible expression of compassion, love, mercy, and justice;
who compels you to mercy for the wayward and vulnerable.
In that room for that hour, your voice will be booming, your declarations unmistakable, your convictions clear.

Which is why your silence right now is such a sin of omission—because you should know better; because you say you know Jesus, because you claim to seek his heart; because you claim you desire to walk so close behind him in this life, as to be covered by his dust.

Because if this is all true, then right now you should be the loudest of voices, the one screaming from the rooftops, the one flipping over tables; the one braving the slings and arrows of the bigots and the predators and the moneylenders and the bullies.

Your activism should be involuntary right now, instead of invisible. 

I imagine you think that when this nightmare is over and things find some sense of order, that you’ll be off the hook, that no one will recall your silence—but you would be wrong.

I’ll remember just how quiet you were, just how little outrage you expressed, just how many times you could have been the Good Samaritan—but turned your head and walked to the other side of the street; leaving someone bleeding and someone else to tend to their wounds.

Jesus will remember it too.

White Christian friend, I don’t care what you do on Sunday for an hour in a building.

That’s the easiest time and place to have convictions.

That is a paper tiger faith; one that has no real teeth and no true power.

It is the greatest of empty religious performances.

Fortunately there are plenty of people of faith out there who are speaking, who are stepping into the fray, who are naming and opposing this ugliness—but not enough of us. I keep hoping you’ll join us.

I’ve been waiting for a year here outside that building and that hour on Sunday, for you to break your silence and loudly resist all that is so terrible.

I won’t hold my breath any longer, while you hold your tongue.

Just know that I hear you.

 

 

142 thoughts on “White Christian Friend, I Hear Your Silence.

  1. Seems to be the same straw-man fallacies that you utilize to demonize those who disagree with you. You have done, what many have probably, and rightly , accused some right wing pastors of doing. You have confused your political ideology with your religious belief to the point that your determination if someone is a Christian depends solely upon whether they agree with your left leaning beliefs.

    You also like to rely upon false dilemma fallacy. For example, with Charlottesville, it is either your completely condemn the Neo Nazi and nothing else, or you must be supportive of Neo Nazi, and therefore are a just an evil White Nationalist Christian. When in reality, most of the white Christians you are comfortable condemning abhor Neo Nazis and the violence they brought, but also abhor Antifa and they violence brought to the table that day. Some of them may also disagree with the notion of taking down statues, not because they want to celebrate the Confederacy, but see a value in preserving reminders of our history, and are concerned about what’s next? Do you ban the National Anthem due to some versus you don’t like? Do we take down the Jefferson Memorial?

    You mourn that people ran to Trump, and wonder why it happened.
    Yet, you fail to realize the role you played in making this happen. You labelled George W. Bush as a racist. Yet he was the man responsible for Pepfar, which saved millions of black lives. You tarred and feathered John McCain, a war hero who defended his opponent against nasty attacks. You then brutally attacked Mitt Romney, another good and decent man. And now you wonder why folks flocked to a man who was willing to play the game at your level.

    You also seem to not understand that the folks you are trying to convince see through some of the hypocrisy in your article. You bemoan their silence against the President for his attitudes towards women. Yet, where was the chorus of condemnations from the left when you supported Bill Clinton for 8 years? Two wrongs don’t make a right, but it gets tiresome when we constantly see “you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye?”

    You want to know the Christians you hope to persuade are silent? It is because they know it is no use trying to engage folks who see them nothing but as the absurd caricature that you have created.

    • D-
      I’m sure D isn’t your real name. Mine is Meredyth Warren. I’m not afraid to say my name because I stand behind my words. I have no desire to debate the merits of Christianity. I’m an atheist and couldn’t care less if or whether you pray and to whom.
      I don’t need you to engage with me or anyone else. I don’t need you to pick political sides.
      I just want you to know how ridiculous you sound. Yes, ridiculous. This isn’t about Bill Clinton or Antifa. This isn’t about confederate statues that celebrate racism. This is about white people losing their majority in this country and the fear that it has caused you. This is about your fear and your inability to face your white Christian privilege. That’s why you are silent. And we see right through it. It’s disgusting and it’s obvious and we all see it in your silence, D.

    • Yes you either support Nazis or you don’t, there is no middle ground.
      The only person bashing & mocking Bush, McCain & Romney was Trumpf.
      Dems did condem Clinton’s action.
      Where’s yr condemnation of sexual predators. Trumpf, Moore etc.

      News sources matter, fact checking matters, words matter.
      Christians words matter.

    • Evangelicals are not Christian and do not understand what you say. They are phonies and love Trump because they are like him. They’ve infiltrated the churches. Sheep will follow anyone. And they are. There’s no Jesus in them. Even if you’re an atheist, read the gospels and see for yourself. They do the opposite of the Jesus walk. They are antichrist. Jesus knows who is who. That’s what matters. We will answer to Him. All of us!

  2. John Pavlovitz, I apologize if you equate my public silence with support for the regime. I am embarrassed and hiding. I am stunned and in shock. From the moment that my husband texted me from work with “The … is actually winning,” I could only believe that one of two things was happening: either Russia really hijacked the election; or people in the U.S. so hate women that they would rather have a tabloid-dweller in the highest office in the land than a woman who has given her life to public service. What can I do to change either of those things? For the most part I am sticking to the small things that I hope will have impact once our long national nightmare is over: loving my husband & family, teaching children to be curious, giving to those who need, being kind, praying, loving Jesus. Praise God for those who go big & small. I think we need both right now.

  3. Mr. Pavlovitz, if more Christians were like you maybe I wouldn’t feel completely and utterly unsafe around anyone professing to be Christian. The damage is bad, and it has been made worse for people like my with this administration.

    I am a sexual abuse survivor. White Christians elected a sexual predatory in to office. The depth of pain that brought up has been staggering. They excuse his actions, they give him a “mulligan” and tell us to be tolerant and understanding of their chosen idol.

    I have multiple serious medical issues..have had them since I was 13 (before anyone decides to blame me for me “poor life choices”) I have spent more sleepless nights worrying about losing what health care I have. The constant feeling of doom and anxiety I feel while supposedly “good” people try to repeal the very laws that allow me to live. The deep, hostile anger I feel when White Christians blame me, tell me I should just die and save some of their precious tax money that they would rather see spent on endless war and imposing their Christianity in to our national laws.
    The rage I feel now that half of my family has to carry passports on their person at all time to prove they have a right to be here. The worry I feel every time my sister travels for her work because he brown skin has made her a target.
    The hands I have held with my LGBTQ friends, my Muslim friends, my atheist friends who all see the writing on the wall. Our very lives are in danger.

    I hear you too. I hear your justifications. I hear you calling everyone who holds you to your bible ignorant and hateful. I hear you literally calling for our deaths with your votes. I hear your judgment. I hear you scream about “tolerance” and “listening to both sides” when you have NEVER listened to those you have pushed to the fringes…punished for being poor, brown, sick, or gay.

    I sit next to Black pastors in meetings who have shovels in hand, discussing how to help the poor and homeless, how to prepare under privileged for jobs, fundraisers for the ill and outreach to immigrants regardless on belief.
    I leave the room full of hope, only to see that dominant paradigm of White Christianity in the larger world slap me in the face and make the work we all do TOGETHER look like Sisyphus pushing his rock up the mountain.
    I watch you preen and judge each other in Church, justify your wealth as “hard earned” when the janitor you never even acknowledge works just as hard as you, often at multiple jobs just to feed their family.
    I watch you roll your eyes when I beg you to speak up against our governments attack on the ADA, the laws which let me at least try to access some semblance of a normal life, or even just have dinner with my family.

    Yeah..I hear you too. In my mind I am waiting for the day when your hate dies. When religion is seen as a positive thing rather than a bludgeon. When I see you actually give a damn about anything other than yourself and when a hungry child tugs at your sleeve you scream how you are being persecuted and waged war against.

    Do something. Pick up that book you claim to love so much and read something other than Leviticus. Stop cherry picking your words so you can inflict more harm on the already marginalized. Do something.

    • It just kills me when I read something like this. You have, by this writing, shown your own bigotry and hatred. Get a life. Realize you are no more special than anyone else. Every person has hard things to happen. No one escapes problems in this life and no one is perfect and no one person has the best solution to the world’s problems. . if any of us did, our name would be God.

  4. I am pretty sure the author of this article is not hearing because he has been in perpetual tantrum mode since the election, as has most of the left. Ever try to out-scream a toddler, let alone reason with them? It’s pointless. He doesn’t want to have a conversation…..a true discussion. He sees everything in black and white: either you’re pro-amnesty or anti-imigration, etc. etc. . Everything is either/or. He gives his agenda away when he says, “I keep hoping you’ll join us.” It really doesn’t matter what I say to anyone with that mind-set. If I don’t think and speak exactly the way he thinks I should, I will be villified and demonized. I gave up trying to be heard a long time ago.

  5. Sometimes I reread Robert Jones excellent and thoroughly researched book “The End of White Christian America.” It inspires me and gives me hope.

  6. Well, Mr. Pavlovitz, there are white Christians who are saying something – and I’m tired of this simplistic browbeating, I really truly am.

    Christians of my stripe keep their politics out of their churches. That’s by design. Also for tax purposes. And I’d really appreciate it if people would come to terms with that fact. Galatians 3:28. Look it up. So if we’re not screaming bloody murder from inside the church, rest assured, we are on the outside of it.

    When Obama was stomping on everyone’s civil rights, literally co opting every single phone call and email in this country, where were you guys, pray tell?

    The amount of simplistic idiocy surrounding the practice of the Christian faith, coming from the outside, is truly annoying. Get a clue. You’d better pray to whatever God you believe in that people like me don’t mix our politics with our preaching. Rest assured, nobody will like it.

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