“The people in the churches – what are they thinking about it? Are they sad? Do they know?”
My friend and co-worker, Yusuf, posed these questions this afternoon when I and another friend and co-worker, Nicole, met Yusuf to help him with a project for his English class he attends in the evening.
“Well…” Nicole and I paused, a little unsure of how to go about explaining the complexities of politics and the American church and wanting to avoid saying anything that might make our faith looked bad to our Somali Muslim friend.
We attempted to explain how most people in churches know, but that it’s a little all over the board. Some Christians are sad and angry. “They feel that way because of what Jesus says about loving your neighbor as yourself,” we told him. That part was easy. But how do we explain to our dear friend that some Christian’s don’t give a rat’s ass about him at all? Some would turn their noses up at him because he is black. Some would tense up when they heard his accent. Some would turn him away because he is Muslim. It doesn’t matter that he would give him the shirt off his back. They’re afraid. And people fall everywhere in between these two extremes.
We told him that some people have never met anyone different than themselves and that makes them very scared, and that fear can make them lash out in hate.
He then told us he was reading comments on Facebook articles last night. “Oh no, it is not good,” he told us. My heart sank. It’s hard for privileged, white American me to read ugly comments sections on posts, but what must my sweet friend Yusuf feel?
Yusuf quickly moved on to making a silly joke about his project, forever our office’s class clown, despite the solemnity of his and his community’s current situation, so it was too late, but what I wanted to say was, “Yusuf, Jesus wouldn’t have been afraid of you.”