Tiffany Willis’s insightful article saddens me. In 2015, she laid out 28 reasons she is done talking to her conservative Christian friends and family. I’m saddened that America is getting to where we can’t discuss our differences anymore without wanting to strangle each other, but I do, nonetheless, understand where Ms. Willis is coming from.
I respond only as myself. I’m a devout Christian, very political, but I don’t identify with the religious “right” or “left”. In an Episcopal Church with a very left of center parish on average, I’m the “token conservative”, but put me in a room full of southern Baptists, and I turn into the liberal faster than Jesus makes water into wine.
So, that’s enough context. Let me go through each of her points, and I’ll try not to Tu Quoque each of her points, though that will come up in many cases. From here on I’ll be addressing Tiffany Willis directly.
You support revisionist history.
Here’s my first Tu Quoque. Yes, I’ve seen the revisionist history that comes from the right. I’ll use Civil War history as an example. I’ve grown up white in the south, and am very familiar with the neo-confederate narrative. “It wasn’t about slavery, it was states’ rights.” Yet right now, I see revisionism coming from the left. Just because neoconfederates go above and beyond to deny the importance of slavery, doesn’t mean that the exact opposite must hold true. I’m not interested in defending the Confederacy. But a fine man on the wrong side of history is getting his name dragged through the mud lately. I’m talking about Gen. Robert E. Lee. He was a complicated man who didn’t want to secede from the Union, and wanted slavery to be phased out. Yet he fought for the Confederacy. I, now, here bold faced lies claiming that Lee was a “white supremacist” who supported slavery. While neoconfederates should be held accountable for their historical cherry-picking and denial, the victors shouldn’t be free to tell bold faced lies about the side they defeated just because – social justice!
This is just one example, and I want to move on to the other 27
2. You cite Jesus as your reasoning for rejecting marriage equality.
I’m with you on this one! I’ll defend someone’s right to believe what they will, but that’s not the same as defending the belief. Jesus never once mentioned same-sex marriage, I’ve talked about my own views on this in detail.
On the theology I’m with you. Though I wouldn’t stop talking to my fellow Christians who are die-hard “traditional marriage” advocates. I would say to them, however, gay marriage hasn’t hurt the sanctity of my marriage, nor your’s.
3. You use Biblical scripture to excuse yourself from feeding the hungry.
9. You assume that everyone who needs help are losers and parasites who refuse to work.
I’ve see this too, and honestly, it reminds me of Satan quoting scripture to Jesus in his efforts to tempt Him. I share your position on this. If you’re tired of talking to the Christian right about this, I understand. But I usually point out to them, as you did somewhere in this article, that the majority of welfare recipients have a working head of household. They do work. It’s just hard to feed a family on 40 hours of minimum wage.
4. You lie when you say you value “freedom of religion.”
Tu Quoque number 2. Yes, I know. They say “freedom of religion” and then try to suppress Islam and justify by saying “Islam is an ideology, not a religion.” Apparently one politician gets to decide what Islam is.
With that said, I don’t know if you, Ms. Willis, are like this. But anyone who supports punishing a cake decorator for not wanting to provide a wedding cake for a gay wedding, or some grandma for not wanting to provide flowers; anyone who supports this is a bully, and has no respect for religious freedom. And don’t give me all that “Jim Crow” stuff! A gay couple having to go to 1 of the other 29 bakeries instead is not the equivalent of a black family sleeping in their cars because no hotel would give them a room.
5. You claim God speaks to you and tells you to do things.
I always get uneasy about this. I long ago made the mistake of thinking God had “a plan for me”. Maybe He does, but if He does, it’s best that I not try to figure it out. Yes, the religious right does this, and I think it’s dangerous. If people think they’re doing God’s work, is there anything they won’t do?
6. You question my faith.
I can only think of once when I was talking to someone on the religious right, who questioned my faith, and it didn’t offend me. He was your typical creationist type, and I was talking about science, and the universe, etc. And admitted that scientifically, I can neither prove nor disprove God. He said it sounds like I have a “weak faith”. He was right.
That is the only exception. Otherwise, who is anyone to question my faith, or your’s? I know exactly what you mean here. It’s like if I don’t embrace their particular brand of Christianity, they speak to me like I’ve never heard the “good news” before. I cannot stand supposed Christians trying to “convert me” or “save me”, when I’ve already there! I don’t question their faith, though I may question their understanding of scripture.
7. You care more about your guns than you do about children.
This is a tough one. But you’re thinking – It shouldn’t be! Choice between guns and children, children win – hands down! But is it really that simple? The problem runs much deeper. Our society is hurting. People have no sense of hope, they felt alone, unloved, unimportant. They want to matter. They don’t get the psychological treatment they need. There are ticking time bombs walking around every day. And one of them goes off. Banning guns, or restricting guns, isn’t getting at the root of the problem.
8. You get excited about people dying.
18 You love war, death, and destruction.
I won’t Tu Quoque, because at the time this was written, 2015, it wasn’t quite applicable, yet. But in 2017, we’ve just seen the Democrats nominate the biggest warmonger they could find – Hillary Clinton. I just watched my loving, compassionate Church full of the tolerant left, rent their clothes and gnash their teeth, all because they didn’t get their warmongering “first woman president”.
Ms. Willis, on the issue of war, and Christianity, I’m with you. But it seems that since 2015, the tables have turned. I hope that you did not in 2016 engage the same kind of hypocrisy you’ve criticized the religious right for by supporting that warmonger-in-chief just because – “first woman president”.
10. You weren’t concerned about uninsured people– including me.
I know what you mean. Jesus healed the sick.
I have different reasons for opposing Obamacare. Obamacare is a mandate to buy private insurance from for profit companies, with no incentive to keep rates down. Rates have nearly doubled since Obamacare was implemented, and more than doubled for some. I’m all for affordable healthcare, but this is not affordable health care. If you personally benefited from it, then good for you. But many have not. What we need is at least a limited form of single-payer. I’m sure you’re familiar with what that is. But I’ll point out that by entrenching the private sector insurance, we’re only making single payer that much more difficult to obtain. So I support the intention behind Obamacare, but I don’t support Obamacare. It’s not what was intended.
11. The Creation Museum — that is all.
12. You’re liberal in youth, yet grow conservative in age.
Interesting story there. Hardly seems a reason to be angry at someone. (Calling you a “baby killer” is certain reason to be angry) But for becoming conservative, in and of itself – people change. I don’t want to be entrenched in an ideology my whole life. I change my positions in light of new evidence, and my views are still evolving. I’d encourage others to do the same.
13. You don’t want people who disagree with you to vote.
I know what you mean. A former student of mine was earning his US citizenship. I congratulated him. He was proud he’d be able to vote. I again congratulated him, even knowing full well he was about to vote for the aforementioned “warmonger in chief”.
I share your disdain for gerrymandering, and wish we’d do more to ensure that districts are geographically logical, rather than political.
14. Some of your best friends are black. Or Mexican.
There’s a difference between “prejudice” and “racism”, and I think that’s what you’re seeing here. I see it all the time. The reason your conservative friends deny being racist is because they don’t have an ideology of racism. They are, however, prejudiced. They tend to prejudge people based on such characteristics as skin color. But they don’t flat our refuse to associate with people who are different. That’s how they manage to have their “black friend” and still have their negative attitude towards blacks more broadly. It’s sad. But I think you’ll get through to them better (if you’re interested in trying anymore) by knowing the difference and discussing their prejudices with them. Make it clear you know they aren’t in the KKK, and go from there. Just my advice.
15. You scream about undocumented immigrant children at the border, but you hire Mexicans to do your dirty work.
Definitely hypocritical, and disgusting behavior if they’re exploiting these people.
16. You insist on calling undocumented immigrants “illegals” and “aliens.”
This is a tough one for me, from a religious perspective. I know we should “welcome the stranger to our land”. I also know we’re a sovereign nation with laws, and “he who bears the sword bears it not in vain.” If people cross the border illegally, then I’m sorry, but they are illegal immigrants. I’m not calling them less than human, but it is criminal behavior. There is a difference I realize between crossing the border illegally, and crossing legally but overstaying your visa. But I have no problem calling illegal immigrants – illegal immigrants. I don’t wish them any harm, but I do want the law enforced. They should be deported. I’ll welcome the stranger to our land who comes here LEGALLY.
17. You don’t mind using force against “lesser” groups to get what you want.
Tu Quoque time! Have you not seen all the suppression coming from the left lately? As despicable as the Westboro Baptists are, they aren’t suppressing freedom of speech. But what about people shouting down speakers at universities? What about people blocking the Sec. of Education from doing her job and visiting a public school? Obama calls them out! Will you call them out? I have no problem calling out anyone, left wing, right wing, chicken wing on a string; who suppresses freedom of speech.
19. Speaking of war, you think draft dodging is OK and military service is for the little people.
This is a better description of Republican elites than your conservative friends and family. But I share your disdain for chicken-hawks.
20. You claim to care about the Constitution, but in reality you don’t.
Tu Quoque number…4? Who’s counting?
Yeah, speaking of “undocumented immigrants”, what’s your attitude toward “sanctuary cities”? If you care about the Constitution, that includes the authority of Congress, not local governments, to make laws regarding immigration and naturalization (Article I, Sec. 8, clause 4). If you don’t support enforcing our immigration laws, than you care no more for the Constitution than many authoritarian “conservatives” who strip our civil liberties in the name of “national security”.
21. It’s impossible for you to see your privilege.
I’ve no disagreement with this statement, in and of itself. But I hope this isn’t a thinly veiled reference to “white privilege”.
- You don’t care about children.
I know. If we’re going to be pro-life, we should be pro-life all the way. I’m with you!
23. You’re greedy and miserable.
Mixed opinions here. I know what you mean about being thankful and all. As we see the wealth gap between rich and poor widen, however, I don’t see why the declining middle class should just put up with it in silence just because there are others worse off. A stronger middle class is good for the poor, also, as it means more opportunity, and therefore a better chance for them to escape from poverty. I won’t “check my privilege” while some politicians send our jobs to China.
24. You think our religion is the only one.
Half Tu Quoque. The right is much worse about this than the left. But on the left, I see a different version of this. I’ve encountered some on the Christian left who think THEY are the true Christians. I might agree with them on welfare, aversion to war, gay marriage, etc. but the second I suggest that we should not encourage promiscuity, that Jesus spending time with the prostitutes was NOT an endorsement of that lifestyle, they shun me! I actually got banned from a rather large Christian Left group on facebook just for adding some context to their cherry picked Bible verses. I think they interpreted it as “slut shaming”.
25. You are lazy and you refuse to read.
We should all listen to each other. Your conservative friends are like this not because of laziness, but because they feel entrenched. It’s FOX News vs. Every Other Mainstream Media Source In America. That’s how they see the world. I’m sure you’re not like this, but some of your liberal friends might be the types who get all smug and act like CNN is the “real news”. We should take it all with a grain of salt. But we should listen to each other.
26. Your misfortune is God’s blessing.
Like with number 5, I agree with your point, but maybe not for the same reason. I prefer not to claim I know God’s plan. It’s dangerous, and I won’t tempt the Lord.
27. “Everyone has their lot in life.”
28. You think you’re the only one working and paying taxes.
I’m with you on this, and I’ve even seen it with government programs. I had this man, Southern Baptist, railing against welfare recipients who “won’t work”, so he says. Yet this same man will fight to the death for Medicare Part D, which, much like Obamacare, is about the most expensive and inefficient way to make healthcare (prescription drugs in this case) affordable. It’s just subsidizing private, for profit Big Pharma with no incentive for them to lower prices.
So yes, I’m with you here, too.
Tiffany Willis, this may have been an odd way to go about it. My original purpose in writing this is to hopefully get you to change your mind, because I fear this breakdown of communication, both in our country, and in our faith, will only make hostilities fester into something that will make the next generation suffer.
As you can see, we agree on some things, and not on others. But even with those “on the right” with whom you disagree on nearly everything, like me with those “undocumented immigrants”, you may not agree with their behavior, but remember they are human. You can reach them! Just regroup!