When November 9th came it was a shock for me. I had not paid much attention to politics being busy in my career and living life. As a therapist working with severely mentally ill folks I would investigate things that mattered while trying to ignore the drama around politics. However I did my civic duty and voted. I actually voted against Trump twice as I had heard so many terrible things about this man and am not a fan of Indiana state legislation from the past several years from Republicans. Come on, banning gay marriage when it’s not even legal? Voting in daylight savings time? Reacting to gay marriage becoming legal by passing legislation to protect the religious folks who were against the gays in our state to start with?
Back to the election…I was not happy! The day after our election a church in my denomination was defaced with anti-gay speech and many of my friends started to get afraid of what would happen, is gay marriage going away? Is racism going to a new high? Are these Trump people that hateful?
At this point I knew my ignorance of policy and politics would have to end. Being an American Citizen I knew this could not mean we really had another Hitler as being president is not king, so I had to check things out for myself! In my usual fashion I turned to YouTube (never liked being forced to read the paper as a kid). I started by laughing at Trump jokes then being quickly bored watching jokes. I started watching campaign speeches and thinking “maybe Trump’s not so bad.” The next part of my journey was anger at the elitist politicians in the democratic party for being more interested in climate change than gay rights and using words like “racist,” “homophobic” and “xenophobic” to describe people they disagree with instead of discussing facts and addressing the issues. Don’t think that means I’m happy with all republican politicians, this war-mongering has got to stop–my parents wanted to be buried at Arlington but thanks to the Iraq War that cemetery so full there is a long waiting list just to get ashes checked in!
These changes have been strange to several of my friends and I know many family members will not approve but then again I’ve never been one for the status quo! I now count myself in the ranks of the Trump supporters who I was so against during the election.
As for my church, I have since discovered this was not Trump supporters who did this. Two articles came out this past week after investigations were concluded finding the culprit in this. It saddens me that this was done out of fear, but I am happy to say our new bishop spoke against fear. Her words of wisdom calling for a Christian response are below:
Statement from The Right Reverend Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis:
I was saddened to learn this morning that the vandalism of St. David’s Church in Bean Blossom was committed by the church’s organist, Nathan Stang, who has admitted to police that he spray painted hateful graffiti on the church last November in the wake of the presidential election. This was a hurtful, dishonest, and profoundly misguided action that stands against the values of the people of this diocese and the Episcopal Church, and we will continue to cooperate with the authorities who are pursuing this case.
We are living now in a political climate that is so divisive and highly charged that people from all across the political spectrum are making thoughtless and hurtful choices that they believe are justified by the righteousness of their causes. As people who follow Jesus, we must find a different way.
Christians are called to hold one another accountable for our choices and actions, but also to offer one another love and forgiveness. I do not know Nathan, who is not a member of the diocese and has worked at the church for about a year, but media reports indicate that he felt frightened and alone in the wake of last year’s presidential election and that he was attempting to catalyze a movement by instilling a sense of fear in the congregation and community. Many people in our country, particularly members of sexual, religious and racial minorities, have well-founded reasons to be fearful in these difficult times, but this terrible situation illustrates why we must resist the temptation to play to those fears. Our job, as people of God, is to speak the truth in love, admit our own sins, and be ever mindful that seeking justice includes ending fear for all God’s people.
I know that this incident has been deeply painful for many people at St. David’s, in our diocese, in Bean Blossom and surrounding communities, and across the country. As bishop, I want to offer my sincere apology to those who have been hurt both by what happened in November and what is happening today. As this story unfolds in the media and in the courts, I hope that you will join me in praying for St. David’s and its leaders, for Bean Blossom, for Nathan, and for everyone who has found in this incident a reason to be afraid.