To MAGA Family Refugees and Fox News Orphans

I’d just finished a speaking event a year or so ago and was meeting with people who’d stayed after to say hello, have a book signed, or share some thoughts about the evening.

After saying goodbye to the man I’d been talking to, I lifted my head and my eyes locked with a middle-aged woman who’d been standing behind him. Her wide smile dissolved almost immediately, and tears welled up in her eyes as she leaned in to speak.

“I am a Fox News orphan.”  she blurted out as she grabbed my wrist, her voice trembling.

She continued, now sobbing loudly, “My family no longer accepts me, which is just as well. I hear the things they say now, and I don’t recognize them anymore.”

The woman detailed the two-year erosion of her connection to the people she’d lived with her entire life; people who suddenly felt like strangers and enemies, people she’d just as soon avoid altogether now.

“Fox News and this President have driven us apart, and I don’t know if we can be fixed.” she said.

Her story was heartbreaking and it was tragic—but it wasn’t at all unusual. The room that night (just like this country) was filled with people like her: Fox News orphans, MAGA family refugees, and Trump-Train widows. I hear their stories dozens of times a day.

They are grown children, turned away by parents.
Siblings driven apart in loud tantrums or in quiet disconnection.
Extended family members relegated to superficial small talk at holiday gatherings.
Spouses feeling a new alienation in one another’s presence.
Neighbors avoiding eye contact across hedges.
Church friends exchanging uncomfortable silences.
They are people forced into isolation, or choosing it out of self-preservation.

During this season, the everyday disconnection this Presidency has yielded is amplified, the tensions are pulled tighter, the space between people is enlarged. In a time when family is highlighted, for many the holidays have simply become an annual reminder of all they have lost.

If these are such days for you, I see you.

I know that this season finds you in a place you never expected to be: the outside.

I know you’ve been pushed to the periphery in your family, that you’ve been ghosted by the ones you were closest to, that you are experiencing estrangement where you once were safely held and securely tethered.

I understand the sense of loss and disbelief you feel; the incredulity of the words you’ve heard and the unthinkable cruelty you’ve seen.

I know the grief you’ve experienced as you’ve lost people you dearly love, who are alive, yet now gone. I feel the weight of all the accrued losses that you are carrying. I know the minefield that family gatherings have become; the way you now have to weigh every word and step gingerly to avoid explosions.

I know how exhausting it all is.

It’s tempting to give you some sugary feel-good platitudes about the love and peace of the season, and to imagine for you a day when these wounds will be healed and when the fractures will be mended—but that wouldn’t be fair or realistic.

The separation you feel and the distance you are experiencing is for good reason. You know why you’re here right now. This isn’t a capricious response to some minor moment of misunderstanding, not some flippant mood swing triggered by a singular blowup. This is the slow, steady, and devastating realization that you and some people you have lived life alongside—aren’t morally compatible.

You are here because that is the cost of not being silent about the deepest contents of your heart. You are because you will not soften your deepest spiritual convictions, which means that this distance, as painful as it is—is to be celebrated. You are where you are supposed to be.

Yes, some of the relationships that are broken right now may find healing, but others may not. This Christmas might not be the last one you face, without the people you expected to be there, and that’s simply the truth.

But there will be others around you next year, in fact many are already there; people who have or will become family and tribe, not by blood—but by choice; people who too are fleeing their homes and seeking refuge elsewhere.

And so though this season may leave you feeling a bit stranded and more than a little homeless in your family and your church, know that you are not alone in such things.

Know that you will find a home again and receive welcome and find rest.

Be encouraged.


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22 thoughts on “To MAGA Family Refugees and Fox News Orphans

  1. The division began much earlier for me, when my family found out that I voted for Obama in 2008. I will never forget their response to me that day – one of appalled suspicion. I was verbally attacked and our relationship has never healed. It has only become worse with the advent of Trump. I blame it all on the Fox News propaganda that they constantly absorb.

  2. This President, this time, is like his reality TV show … It’s not real. What it does is separate people into tribal alliances MHO. Both alliances were always there I think. It seemed cruel to me at the time and heartbreaking when I was 5 years old I knew I was on my own. The source is sin revealed in multiply multiple multiple addictions. We want what we want when we want it. Truth, justice and love are sacrificed. Who’s going to turn this around? It will be inspired I think.

  3. Sadly, it goes both ways. The Fox/MAGA folks are the minority in my family. My mom is estranged, to some degree, from her youngest siblings because of their love for the President and his policies. Ironically, their parents are Mexican immigrants. I know these two feel left out, because their older siblings think they’re nuts. I think we really need to remember the love should be the center of all things, regardless of the side you’ve chosen

  4. To everything there is a season. Thank you once again John. I am so thankful for a network of “others” whom I have joined with in a spirit of solidarity this Christmas. I am a resister who can claim Jesus and reject those beliefs that spur hatred and divisions among people. I can speak out against those who profit from hatred and bigotry.
    Merry Christmas to all who share this freedom.

  5. What a heartbreaking story. I can understand better where your outrage is coming from. I feel horrible for the families and friendships torn apart by the politics in America, over the last two years. Although I may disagree on the cause and I may see things differently it doesn’t mean I don’t see the corruption, the lies, the misery, the pain and suffering of the most vulnerable and the mockery of the United States government.

    One thing I see which may be different from you is that people are not divided in two camps of Pro-Trump or Pro-Hillary. People have a multitude of positions and beliefs— and many people hold different positions about the state and direction of the US.

    I get that this post is about pure raw blazing truth and you don’t tolerate lies or people who you believe are compromising but are they truly compromised?

    “No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.”

    Don’t alienate the Oskar Schindlers or the Hermine ‘Miep’ Giesof’s of the world because they are out there watching what is going on and wondering where it will all end up– and looking for anything they can do to help.

  6. Wow. Thank you. Thank you so much. You have said exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you. You see me. You can sense the pain and you can turn it into words. You can speak the words and draw the pain out of the dark corners of my heart. It doesn’t hurt as much out here in the light. Thank you.

  7. This was very helpful. I have been ghosted by a friend of several years for politely refusing to accept Breitbart and Fox as credible sources. It’s disheartening to think coversations are stopping all over the world in this manner as to me that seems like Trump built his wall after all.

  8. You have described my reality so clearly –

    I began to be abandoned about 5.5 YEARS ago by family, friends, and neighbors due to rightfully fighting for my very future – my home/property/property rights, endangered by BLATANT government corruption, complicit with greedy corporate ‘neighbors’ – and which I actually managed to get my state to supply the irrefutable evidence of STATE-PROVEN FRAUD – see this

    Then the whole era of ‘Trump’, with all its immoral actions and narratives, hit everyone – and I am female, have been sexually assaulted, educated, SPEAK UP FOR MY, AND ALL THE PUBLIC’S, RIGHTS, and my surname is RODRIGUES…

    And now, my 2 ‘Trumper’ brothers and 1 sister, are painting me as a leech, lazy, and worse, because I ask for very modest compensation for lovingly caring for my dad nearly 24/7 for the last 6 months of his life (and I ONLY ask for anything at all because of the financial difficulties of fighting the corrupt government for 5.5 YEARS for my paid-off home/land…) – and these same siblings are trying to turn my entire extended family against me – when these same siblings are the ones who have taken advantage of, and not followed the wishes of, our father, who was a kind and generous man…

    Things just HAVE to get better…

    Let TRUTH and LOVE and PEACE win in the end, for us ALL…

  9. You are so right, John.

    As a transgender woman, I learned more than twenty years ago…that blood was not always thicker than water. It’s a bitter lesson.

    As with transgender who went before me, and those who have come after…some of my blood stood by my side, and most did not. And as many of us did, I built a new family…a family of cisgender and transgender people…people who WOULD stand by me…as my blood was supposed to…and failed to do…simply because I was not what they expected; I did not fit their expectations of sexuality/gender.

    It never ceases to amaze me how some parents can love…and plead for judicial clemency and mercy on behalf of children who grew up to commit rape and murder of the innocent…while my own family threw me out because I was different…not what they expected.

    And I came to realize they had never loved me in the first place. They had loved the facade…the idealized me that they had built in their own minds, and selfishly tried to impose upon me.

    I feel the Fox News Orphans…who now feel what I felt…but for different reasons. And they most likely will need to do what I did…look outside their blood for the family that will stand by them, support them and love them.

    This is the true and ongoing cost of hatred, bigotry…of Donald J. Trump. He has destroyed the fabric of America, and the fabric of families. The true total cost can never be measured…but those who seek and find the sort of family I now have…will find the peace, love and support that they should have gotten from their blood.

    Blood is not always thicker than water. It’s a bitter lesson that may have unfortunately had to earn, and I suspect, many more are learning and will still learn. It hurts…badly…when people turn out so very different from what we had expected.

    So, also, in a way, I suppose out families were hurt by us not being what they expected. But one thing remains constant: To thine own self be true.

  10. I have a cousin that I’m pretty close to. He’s a MAGAt and we both get really mad, so we’ve just agreed to not talk about politics. It works for us.

  11. For those who are in this situation, please watch the documentary “The Brainwashing of My Dad,” about a man who fell under the FOX News spell but was eventually brought back to being the kind and reasonable person he had been before. There is hope– though it may be a long shot.

  12. A message that many people need to hear at this time of year. I imagine the same family divisions happened in Germany, Austria and wherever Hitler ruled, and that it was no less painful. For decades, all Germans have been portrayed as evil supporters of the Third Reich. Perhaps America’s current crisis had to happen to prove to many people that not everyone — even in families — will blindly follow an immoral tyrant. There are always those who courageously stick to the true teachings of Christ, and/or the good values they were raised with. I wish Christians would follow the teachings of Christ, instead of drawing primary inspiration for hateful and divisive acts from the worst examples in the Old Testament.

  13. Pingback: To MAGA Refugees and Fox News Orphans, on Christmas –

  14. Very good post! Unfortunately, it is very real and extremely disappointing to realize this about people you have lived with, worked with, and worshiped with your entire life. I live in a red state and I have only 1 good friend and 1 family member that I can talk with. I have to be very careful about who I voice my opinions to because I really worry that I am going to say something around the wrong person. There is too much potential for physical violence here. I keep thinking about what the bible says about the tares and the wheat. I always knew the tares were around. I just never knew there were so many and it is truly frightening!

  15. I can identify with the lady you wrote about today. It’s good to know I’m not alone. After I sell my home, I’m moving to North Carolina so I can find people who think like me.

  16. It works both ways, John. There are plenty of people on the other side of the aisle who are constantly being accused of ghastly things and are being shunned by their family and friends simply because they are not “Democrats” or “Progressives” or don’t share the “Correct Political Viewpoints.” I find your strawman arguments and sweeping generalizations to be part of the toxic discourse, not solving the problem. I hope that in the New Year, you can look honestly at yourself and ask yourself why you continue to judge and demonize entire swaths of people because they don’t share your politics. It’s really de-classe of you to continue to perpetrate negativity and accusatory invective toward others. It’s a fact that people on both sides of the political discourse are guilty of toxicity and cruelty, you included.

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