Recently, the hearing concluded confirming the Supreme Court for Amy Coney Barrett. I didn’t watch, but the event itself triggered another memory.
I kept seeing images of Anita Hill being questioned exactly 19 years earlier. It was 1991, I was about 10 years into my very conservative-leaning faith journey. I was being asked to believe that liberals were so sinister and conniving that they basically had this woman waiting in the wings for decades, preparing and willing to create an ugly sexual harassment story about a decent conservative man. It represented a conspiracy theory that joined many others.
I was discipled to believe that liberals were godless and had an agenda to create the U.S. in its own image. God-loving, Bible-believing Christians were members of the agenda-reveal party: making sure that people of the word were not celebrating with people of the worldly. Featured prominently was the abortion agenda, the gay agenda, anti-Christian agenda, and the social gospel agenda. And yet as my committed pro-life eyes watched this decent, intelligent woman of faith share her very credible story, the conspiracies seemed more delusional than her account. She was principled, composed, and a preview to sexually harassed women finding their voice, even if the words were delayed, the timing was complicated, or the behaviors were confusing. Evangelicals endorsed these theories whose role in my Christian formation I am now examining and decolonizing.
The conspiracy theory maintains the fear that fuels white supremacy. It grants power to those who have craved it all their lives. It maintains power for those who had always had it. It protects money. It creates divisions. It discourages investigation. It denies that all people were created in the Image of God. It gives people permission to believe in ungodly means to a possible God-endorsed end. Even though Jesus himself reminded his followers that demonic forces do not promote God’s goodness. Conspiracy theories had a starring role in the president’s courtship with evangelical Christians. He spent 5 years wooing them with a Birther Conspiracy theory about Barack Obama, a man who was too intelligent for White supremacy’s own good. He felt confident they would permit him to be the Birther of a Nation, because he watched how Conspiracy theories made their way into the gospels and were repeated and memorized like scripture.
I have watched Evangelicals continue to swoon in support of this administration, and now they follow leaders so confident that God was on their side, they did a victory dance before the ball even began. Celebrating their pro-life Supreme Court shifting nominee, with faces uncovered, revealing their designer masks of weakness, just like the president modeled. A man who has made the coronavirus the enemy of his hubris instead of the annihilator of humans. A garden party, ominously called by Stephen A. Crockett Jr. a “coronavirus cotillion”, was a prestigious display of who’s who in the defender of pro-life world.
Prominent clergy Franklin Graham and Greg Laurie were in attendance. Growing more comfortable everyday with turning evangelical churches into another trump tower. Suggesting by their presence, that Evangelicalism and the Pro-life movement were loving dance partners at this noble Republican soiree, while science stood as a ridiculed wallflower. This was a gathering where 11 people to date took home Covid-19 as a garden party favor, including the president of the United States—a man successfully convincing people that their freedom, liberty, and rights were under siege by wearing a mask, while the COVID-19 death toll of 228,000 plus children of God was climbing every day.
Never in the history of the pro-life movement—now recognized as merely a pro-birth movement—has so much death been deemed acceptable.
As a Black woman, my ancestors have always co-existed with conspiracy theories: about our history, our story, and our humanity. The very notion of our God-given dignity was also classified as a hoax. However, as followers of Jesus they were also followers of the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Conspiracy theory kryptonite!
Like the evangelical label, I’ve also removed the pro-life label. I continue to be deeply committed to Jesus and the sanctity of all life. Being merely pro-life within a party is incomplete without being committed to loving all your neighbors as yourself. As a pro-all life democrat, my position cares deeply about:
Mass Incarcerated life
Racially Traumatized life
First Nation life
Caged at the Border life
Health Care less life
Impacted by Guns life
Military families’ life
War torn families’ life
Religious freedom life
Prematurely ended life
Graciously extended life
Front line pandemic life
228,000 Covid-19 lost life
The sacredness of all life
This Elections season, endorsing my own invisibility was not an option. I could not remove the flourishing and dignity of so many others from my ballot, nor can I in the months going forward.