The US does not have a state religion, even though many want to claim that it is a Christian nation. I tend to believe that a state religion is just as harmful to the religion as it is to the state, which is why I don’t even like having the US flag in the sanctuary of churches, as is common practice. That’s a battle I’ve chosen not to fight.
I joined the Episcopal Church 18 years ago after a long period of not attending church at all. I found the willingness to question, the openness to doubt, and the focus on faith as a journey a good fit. I wanted a church that took seriously a social justice mission more than just converting souls.
But now I’m doubting the capacity of the Episcopal church to stand up to the challenges ahead. Are we a church that values peace more than justice?
Washington National Cathedral has always been perhaps a little too close to the national part of its name. It has held state funerals and prayer services, and inaugural events. It has agreed to hold an inaugural prayer service for Trump, a man whose campaign ran counter to so many values Episcopalaleans deem important. As a National Cathedral, this would be an obligation. As an Episcopal church, not to do so would be an repudiation of all that Trump has promised to do, and a promise to stand with the vulnerable. Since there is no state religion, I think the choice is clear: Washington National should rebuke Trump, rather than legitimize him with the trappings of power.
I believe we should pray for Trump regularly, that he will, contrary to his campaign, serve as President to protect the vulnerable rather than enact racist, sexist, xenophobic policies and policies that shred the social safety net. I don’t think we should give him the pomp and circumstance he desires unless he shows such actions.
Peace without justice is a false peace. Do not seek it.