Saturday night, I read that president-elect Donald Trump was considering naming Steve Bannon his chief of staff, and I wrote emails and tweets to Trump, Pence, and Paul Ryan voicing my disapproval of this possible choice.
Why did I care?
Steve Bannon has been strongly linked to the alt-right group, which is just a coded name for white supremacy. (The fact that white supremacy is being veiled and normalized is just one problem I have with the media coverage of this story.)
Sunday afternoon it was reported that Trump named Reince Priebus his chief of staff, but Trump named Steve Bannon his senior counselor and chief West Wing strategist. It is telling that Bannon's name was listed first, top billing, in the official announcement from Trump's transition team, above chief of staff.
I believe Trump was sending a message to his other appointments to defend Bannon. He's at the top. Fall in line.
I also wonder if Trump isn't throwing this out there to see what sticks. Are the Christians who turned out in big numbers to vote for him going to balk?
Church, we need to balk!
There isn't some video of Bannon admitting to believing alt-right, white supremacist views I could show you. He is too smart for that. He wouldn't have a promised job at the White House if he admitted such views publicly.
Just because there is not one single, infallible piece of evidence against Bannon does not mean he is fit for this appointment.
I will tell you the exact moment in my mind that Steve Bannon became unfit to serve as a staff member of the West Wing; it was 14 days after the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on June 17, 2015.
Watching the news coverage of that shooting was as traumatic and heartbreaking as any other terrorist attack I've lived to see covered on television.
It was personal.
I spend more days in a church than I spend away from the church. I even lived in our church building when we were first married and planting our church downtown. During worship on Sunday mornings, I look out at a sea of faces that are all shades of brown and pink. If there is anywhere I long to be most free from the fear of shootings, it is when I am with my body of Christ that I love dearly.
That church shooting was completely heartbreaking for all Christians, not just for African-Americans.
Steve Bannon ran the "news" site Breitbart from 2012 to 2016, and just 14 days after the church shooting he ran the headline, "Hoist it high and proud: The Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage."
You can feel any way you want about The Confederate flag, but this headline was run during a time when the news was still full of photos of the shooter Dylann Roof squatting in his backyard holding a Confederate flag.
It was despicable, and it isn't the only disgusting headline Breitbart has published; hateful is their specialty.
Non-white Christians feel hurt that 4 out of 5 white Christians voted for Donald Trump, and Steve Bannon is one big reason for that hurt.
I didn't cry whenever Trump got elected. I tell you when I cried. I cried on Wednesday night when I was driving to the gym after reading a Facebook post from a Latino missionary we support financially and through prayer. He posted that he was hurt that his Christian friends had not only voted for Trump but were on Facebook gloating and celebrating that Trump had won.
This is a missionary that I have shared meals and prayers with. He moved his family of three to a third-world country to work with people who identify with a different religion than Christianity, a dangerous assignment.
I mourn with my brother in Christ.
White Christians, we "held our nose" and elected Trump. We have a responsibility to speak out about actions that go against our beliefs.
Do I even have to say that white supremacy goes against our Christian beliefs?
I have 613 Facebook friends, friends who are almost 100% Christian, and only 4 of my friends responded to my pleas to contact their representatives about Bannon's appointment to the president-elect's White House staff. I've had friends and family tell me be careful where I get my news from. I had one of the members of Trump's Evangelical Advisory Board email me back to tell me that I need to stop listening to liberal media. That email was crushing because of the 27 names on his advisory board, he was the one I respected the most.
I understand how much of the media's trust has eroded over decades of skewed reporting and assaults on Christian values. That is why I am not asking you to believe anything that is being said about Steve Bannon by the liberal media. Judge him by his hateful words and shameful reporting as head of Breitbart. Or if you are willing, listen to Glenn Beck's opinion of Bannon.
Christians have done a good job the last 8 years praying for our president, praying for our country, being aware of what is going on, and holding people in government accountable. We cannot quit this oversight just because a Republican is in the White House.
Donald Trump has made this staff appointment to see how the Christians who turned out to vote for him will respond to it. Are we just going to fall in line or are we going to refuse to sit quietly by as Bannon takes this job in our capital? We have to make it heard that we will not allow someone to work in the West Wing advising our president that has spent the last 5 years peddling hate.
Please contact president-elect Donald Trump, vice-president-elect Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, and your state's two senators.
A quick phone call has the biggest impact. Few people take the time to call, so it holds more weight than an email or a tweet. So far, I found calling to be very quick and easy. Most offices have an automated answering machine that allows you to leave your opinion on any issue and have your voice heard.
Church, let's pick up our phones and balk.
Here are the numbers you can call:
- Donald Trump (646) 736-1779 (Note: the ability to leave messages has been disabled. This is not ok because it sends the message that the president-elect does not want to hear from his constituents. You have to email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
- Mike Pence (317) 232-4567 (FYI, a real person answered when I called.)
- Paul Ryan (202) 225-0600
If you live in Texas, you can contact the following senators. If you live in a different state, you can find your senator's info here.
- Ted Cruz 202-224-5922
- John Cornyn 202-224-2934
Just a few moments on the phone could change the way our country is run the next 4 or 8 years.