Mariners, Donald Trump, Orange County discussed on Exvangelical
We really need to listen to people who are working in these communities to help have a really apathetic kind of communication. That's a really good segue because I I do WanNa talk to you about how race comes up in your book Because it is it is prevalent. I mean is. It is a huge part of of American life. Racism and the the consequences of slavery. it's something that we deal with whether we're conscious of it or not every day it's part of part of the the American of American history and of American life and I understand the the the pitfalls of two white people talking about race but within the context of your book you do talk and you interview a number of people of color. African Americans Latinos people in different faith communities And whether they're evangelical or not and some of them are and I I do. I learned through the process of doing the show to really specify white evangelical them to be the main thing that I talk about. However a lot of these people of color that you spoke to you are in predominantly white congregations predominantly white traditions. So when you spoke to these these people that are in these communities that could be an very likely are hostile to them Whether overtly or just implicitly what was their reaction what was their risk their response and I know you've written a whole book about it and that's that's the hard thing about having an interview about about an entire book. Is You know we're we're trying to consolidate into something. Had to have people reader. Read your work to speak to a little bit even a of examples that come to mind for you of of how these people reacted to the election. I'm trump in the general tenor of political and social discussion. Yes Oh definitely. People come to mind One of the first people that comes to mind when he asked about this is a pastor named West Timothy Kuna and at the time when I was doing my chapter on Orange County He was one of the pastors at Mariners. Church Irvine which is the seventh largest church in America and is also located. In some of America's wealthiest real estate Right near Newport coast not too far from Laguna Beach Just Really Really Expensive Area Immaculate Campus. And so when I met pastor with I met him at that evening's youth nights service and he gave this really powerful message talking about humility and it was really hasn't been travelling to all these different congregations and hearing a lot of messages about power about defensiveness and you have to defend our country. His message released it out as a different message in one that was really tied to to the story of Jesus and the sense that We need to love and to listen to one another. I and so when I talked to pass arrest after the service and learned a little bit more about him He comes from a half Mexican half Tongan background. He played football in college and was in the process of getting his ministry degree of talking to him and he'd worked at Mariners for a few years at that point and he told me some really tough things about the experience that he had working in this predominantly white wealthy context. He occasionally got to preach at sort of the big services on Sunday morning in the big church and he said when he did so he actually had people say to him. You know. We're not used to seeing Brown people. Deliver the message were used to. Seeing Brown people be the recipient of sort of our charity at the Church and so they were really vocal about their lack of familiarity with someone who looked like him giving the sermon. He also told me about lots of times at Church that he would be mistaken for a member of the Brown ground. Screw that people come up and tell them. Oh you know you need to water here. You need to fix this plant here. He'd be in the cafe and people would come up to you. Know think that like oh. Can you get me? You know this kind of coffee so he he already had sort of this sense of discomfort with being in this congregation while at the same time he was this face in this voice for the youth of the congregation and this really powerful speaker. A lot of people saw in him in example of somebody who who they wanted to be like And so this this duality since a mission in his time at Mariners and when I talked to him about the election of two thousand sixteen. He told me that he started. Has This network those a lot of other people of color working in large evangelical megachurches and he told me that often They're put on sort of the outreach. That for the mission staff or they're placed in particular roles often not the senior pastor role not the head administrative roles but roles that sort of put them in mission or outreach type work and he said that many of them were talking to each other after the election and talking about just this feeling of and fear and worry because of many of the racial instance that happened around. Donald Trump's election. And that would happen later. Things like Charlottesville these you know Neo Nazi groups who were supporting trump and saying that. He's embracing their message into West. Told me that that when the election happened in him in these other colleagues he knew who were people of color were feeling hopeless and betrayed and worried at that same time in their church offices their white colleagues were celebrating and rejoicing. And saying this is the best thing whatever happened. He's going to be the best president we've ever had. And there was this huge disconnect and he said that as time went on there was really unwillingness By his white colleagues and colleagues and other churches to really listen to the experience of people of Color. And why this election felt in looks so different to them and there was just really an unwillingness to hear their stories. And so this whole experience is that pastor. West few months I think maybe a year after I interviewed him he ended up leaving mariners and going now to work at another church in Orange County. That was founded by another sort of person of color. Who had worked at a large mega church? Who LEFT TO START HIS OWN CHURCH? So it's it's sad to me that That there's been this closing out of those voices from Wipe megachurches but I'm also I guess hopeful that some of this might at some point. Be A wakeup call at the same time. When I talk about that I also do have to say that part of my work in the book was really blocking the Meth. That that evangelical who voted for trump were a monolith so I did spend ever really interesting chapter from Houston where I spent my time with Arab American Christians and talk to them about their support for trump but also some of their disillusionment so it was important for me to sort of show all the different phases of what it looked like in among even jobs when it came to Donald Trump. Yeah and that's not I mean that's certainly not an easy easy task and people are not caricatures like people have have depth and nuance to them. Certainly what you? What you mentioned about Pastor Tanna. I hope I'm pronouncing his name properly. And is that you know the the own assume the burden should not have been on him. In any of those ways those instances he described to you or in some instances of racism. Mike and I appreciate that that you throughout the book you you do not shy away from from indicating when things are openly racist like because. I think that's important for people that that are not people of Color for white people to be able to point out and say this is an appropriate. This is this is not the right. Sort of tenor. Or don't Ya. It's good for people to point out when things are racist And that is one the things even in your conclusion. You say you know you never know. You never tried to whitewash anything. When you saw indications of nationalism more racism in the places they visited you noted that certainly there were elements of Hyun humanity that shone through even despite those things but to your point. It's deeply unfortunate that that people chose either a political affiliation or Support of an administration. That doesn't deserve their support. Or that doesn't emulates the life of Christ in any sort way. It's just a it's a loss and it's something that. I think I grieve and I think people who whether they identify as exponential Jellicoe or what have you however they relate to that term. Personally I think it's more of an adjective than a noun. It indicates that a prior relationship. They're like tiny little death by a thousand cuts. And so the sense this this grief that the tradition that may have shaped you and may have led you to become politically liberal is so the word I want uses violently opposed to the life of Christ. And what the ethics they. He seems to have indicated in as shown in the Gospel texts. Yeah Yeah I think that there's a lot of sadness and there's a lot of wreckage and there's a lot of people trying to put the pieces back together This past for I met in El Paso Aerial Martinez He is a liberty grads Southern Baptist. Pastor working you know right at the. Us Mexico border and really trying to to see his fellow El Paso residents in his churchgoers as human beings whether they're undocumented whether they're military members whether they were for the border patrol. I really saw a lot of hope in El Paso and in him and in the stories of a lot of Latinos Christians who I met their chapter was very powerful and one of the. He's he spoke to a woman trying to find her last night. Her first name last name is Guzman Rosemary Rosemary Kouzmin. She talked about growing up in Bolivia and she talks about her own. Prejudices towards other I letting people Based on because of the media that that she was shown and she says I've changed now. I'm all gray. Not Black and white and God is okay with that and I I yeah. I appreciated that quite a bit. They that you could share that in the book. Yeah she's she's done the work That's what I'm trying to hold onto you know in these days where we're facing Iranian retaliatory strikes. Were you know murdering people around the globe by drones? I'm trying to hold onto a sense of hope and the hope that I find is in the stories of a lot of these anonymous Christians around the country many of them you know not famous many of them working in places that are difficult And and many of them are evangelical of Color Christians of Color. And they're really the ones who I look to when I need to remember hope and I think that truly represent in American Christianity that for too long has allied itself with power with money with government. And that's not the legacy that Jesus desired. I don't think for the Church that were were required to be a resistance movement a movement independent of the government and movement that really HEWS closely to to the story of Jesus.