I'm sorry it's been a while since I've written. A month ago, I was looking at Twitter on a Saturday morning and found out Secretary Tom Price cut continuation funds for the national teen pregnancy prevention grants (TPP) I contract with.
Me, to my husband: "Hey babe...."
Me: "I just lost my job."
Me: "Yeah, that's what is says on Twitter..."
As soon as phones opened on Monday morning, I forced my way up the Washington D.C. bureaucracy phone tree until I reached Tom Price's chief of staff. I begged for her to reconsider and told her about the young people I was already slated to teach in the 2017/2018 school year who will no longer receive face-to-face comprehensive sex ed. Of course, her answer was a resounding "NO."
The people behind this decision are long-time Evangelical Christian conservatives, a demographic that went for Trump in staggering numbers. Growing up, my family church-hopped through so many different denominations that I've been baptized three times. It never took, I'm afraid. My heathen skin repels holy water like it's coated with Teflon. However, I understand the bitter resentment Evangelical Christians feel about the fast pace of so much rapid cultural change. That resentment metastasized into desperation.
People make shocking compromises when they're desperate:
I do not wish to paint an entire demographic with a broad brush. As I say repeatedly on this blog, people do not fit neatly into simple boxes and categories. That includes evangelical Christians. At the same time, if you're here to hate-read this blog as a way of reaffirming a fervent evangelical Christian faith, I'd like to speak directly to you:
Y'all. I know it's been tough. I know it feels like the country you grew up in has quickly morphed into a secular den of iniquity and sin you no longer recognize. The values your parents taught you as a child, the ones that make you proud to be who you are, where you're from and what you do, suddenly seem terribly out-of-fashion. The things people talk about instead don't even sound like values: they sound like demands. In between the demands, they're making fun of you and everything you believe in.
It's deeply painful. Young people have stopped going to church, and it's getting harder and harder to convince the few who still do to stick around. They ask difficult questions about gay people and they're not satisfied with the answers you struggle to give. Eventually, they stop asking. Then they stop coming. When they finish high school, they almost always move away. Even if they don't, they struggle to find a decent job. A lot of people do drugs. You worry about sending your kids to college, not just because of the cost, but because of what they'll be exposed to while they're there.
Everything has changed. People talk about sex on the radio like it's not even private anymore, there's a gay character in every television show, and your teenager brought home a permission slip for some sex ed program that's going to talk about "gender identity". The only people who sound as scared as you feel are the ones on AM radio.
Can't everyone see what's happening?
Immigrants are going to your schools and demanding ESL classes, Muslims are on the news and they won't take off their head scarves even though they're in America, and black people have the audacity to complain when they're pulled over by the cops when the police are just doing their job! Everyone wants something. More rights. More space. More services. More jobs. More healthcare. More education. More, more, more, moremoremoremoremoremore. Doesn't anyone have any self-respect anymore? Doesn't anyone have any self-reliance? People are supposed to be responsible for solving their own problems.
Women are impossible to talk to nowadays. They're so sensitive. Last week, you told a woman at Walmart who was nursing her baby in a corner under a blanket by saying, "It's wonderful to see you're being modest," and she looked offended! She should be appreciative, you were just being NICE. I bet she's a man-hating feminist that supports the baby-killing factory Planned Parenthood. Those women are disgusting. Abortion is murder.
Things used to be so much easier. There was less to worry about. Everyone seemed to know the rules. But now the rules have changed and no one's explaining the new ones. Why is everyone telling you what to say? This is a free country, you shouldn't have to worry about this stuff. Everyone's so easily offended. Things would be better if all these complainers got jobs, went to church, and put God first. We'd all be on the same page and you wouldn't feel so goddamned uncomfortable all the time.
All this talk about women's rights and gay rights and minority rights and transgender rights and sexual assault is too much. We've got bigger problems to worry about! Most of those problems can't even be solved by people or people's worst invention: government. God, personal responsibility, and prayer are the only answers. The world has gone crazy and people can't see what's best for them. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
“Perhaps it's impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be.”
― Orson Scott Card,
I can feel your pain. I see your humanity, through thick waves of grief and despair. It is human nature to weaponize our pain, but this desperation is turning you into exactly what the most cynical members of secular America say you are. You're doubling-down on hypocrisy and resentment, forsaking your most fundamental values, for a fleeting chance to reclaim small pieces of territory in a cultural war you've already lost.
Perhaps you are right: that God will judge us all in the end. If that is true, you will have the chance to glory in self-righteousness as God condemns me, and all other people you don't like, to burn in eternal hell. Fine. But until that day comes, we must learn to live with each other.
We must learn to live with one another because we need each other. People like me aren't going anywhere, and regardless of our disagreements, I don't want you going anywhere, either. People like me won't be bullied out of the public space just to make you feel better about yourself. Gay people are not going back in the closet. Minorities are not going back to "their" side of town. Immigrants like my husband are not going back to "wherever they came from". Some teens are going to have sex. Women are not giving up their birth control. Planned Parenthood is not going to stop providing abortion services. Young people are not going back to your church.
This push and pull between different sets of values has existed for thousands of years. Change is the only real constant. No matter how much you pray, how many conservative justices are put on federal benches, or how many trans-phobic bathroom bills state legislatures pass, I promise you we're not going back. The time has come to accept the price of American freedom: personal discomfort.
Get used to it.
“if we must