The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu has become my latest guilty pleasure. I rarely watch television and when I do my channel is set to MSNBC. But the news has been almost too much to handle. I still find myself living in disbelief that we are a nation under the Trump Administration. And it seems that if you miss one day of the news cycle, you’ve missed a year with all the Trumptastic failures that continue to arise.
I decided one night to switch over to this series I had heard so much about. I was instantly gripped by the plot and the eerie reminder of what our nation could become with a growing alt right population. And with social policy continually being utilized as a weapon against women’s rights, there are many parallels to draw with The Handmaid’s Tale and our supposed “Christian” Nation. Even escapism landed me back in the frightening reality of our world.
81% of Evangelicals and 65% of Catholics voted Trump into the White House. While some argue faith has no place in politics, the real issue is that most do not vote with their faith in mind. Or perhaps they do, but the foundation of the Christian tradition is lost on them. Like the characters in The Handmaid’s Tale, many God-fearing Christians live “under His eye” and see progressive attitudes as a threat to natural order. The response is to overlook hatred in favor of calming fears. We fear what we do not know, we fear those who think differently than we do, and that fear has taken a hold of our nation with encouragement from our POTUS 45.
No longer are we concerned with ramifications. There is no consideration for the poor and marginalized. Although we are living in the 21st century, it seems that we are taking leaps backward. For women living in the Trump era, there is fear of losing healthcare, of being sexually assaulted, being denied rights to reproductive justice and so on. And if you are not a white woman, the marginalization faced is even more terrifying. Immigrants and Muslims have been name targets and giving up privilege for the good of the community is perceived as being oppressed.
Trump’s campaign was centered on American fear of the “other” and in his first 100 days as president, he’s attempted to ban Muslims, deport immigrants, destroy health care, and ruin international relationships while nurturing his bromance with Vladimir Putin. With the majority of Christians electing Trump to office, one must ask, would Jesus ever get their vote? Would voters still prefer a misogynistic, xenophobic, racist who sexually assaults women over the founder of Christianity?
Given that Jesus’ teachings are based on the principles of love, inclusion, liberation, and social justice, it is difficult to understand how anyone might confuse them as being in favor of a vote for Trump. Imagine Jesus in the White House. What would his first 100 days look like? Would he support a Game of Thrones style wall to keep the “other” out? Would he turn away refugees or force immigrants out of the nation? I won’t say he wouldn’t want to revamp the Affordable Care Act, but he certainly would not cancel health insurance for 23 million people. And while Jesus preached love your enemy as yourself, I don’t think he would be revealing national secrets to Putin.
When the election cycle began, I never imagined we would be where we are at today. Nonetheless, I did think quite a bit about the Christian vote and how faith impacts our politics, often inappropriately. And so, I began writing and continue to write about these thoughts.
My latest book, Jesus in the White House, (coming from The FAR Press in early July) is an effort to try to respond to these questions and thoughts on the Christian vote. While my guess is that many will see it as another liberal attempt to use Jesus to bash the GOP, my hope is that taking a step back and really coming to understand who Jesus was and why his politics are so relevant today, that dialogue might ensue.
In the Handmaid’s tale, we see a society obsessed with a given perspective that damages everyone in the community. Giving power to a few based on hopes for oneself can lead to tragic results. I wonder if this is where we are at in the U.S.?
Our faith can transform politics if we truly honor the foundational messages of our religious traditions. Faith is a critical component of our voting habits. Rather than being focused on individuality, if we can focus on the community and what will benefit all, it may have an impact on our voting decisions.
As I state in Jesus in the White House, some continue to “don red hats with the Trump slogan, “Make America Great Again.” However, a nation is its people….with institutional and systematic oppression continuing unchecked, “Make Humanity Great Again,” is far more necessary in this era.”
Gina Messina, Ph.D. is an American feminist scholar, Catholic theologian, author, and activist. She is also Co-founder of Feminism and Religion. She writes for The Huffington Post, athe highly acclaimed and is author or editor of 5 books including Jesus in the White House and Faithfully Feminist: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Feminists on Why We Stay. Messina is a widely sought after speaker and has presented across the US at universities, organizations, conferences and on national platforms including appearances on MSNBC, Tavis Smiley, NPR and the TEDx stage. She has also spoken at the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations to discuss matters impacting the lives women around the world. Messina is active in movements to end violence against women and explores opportunities for spiritual healing. Connect with her on Twitter @FemTheologian, Facebook, and her website ginamessina.com.
6 thoughts on “Make Humanity Great Again by Gina Messina”
I read The Handmaid’s Tale several years ago. It scared me. I’ve just finished a mystery set in 1948 or 49 in an England that entered into a treaty with Hitler, making Jews and other “others” (like gay people) criminals. A member of the aristocracy commits a murder, a Jew is blamed, and even though the murder is solved, politics overturns justice. (Also mentioned is President Lindbergh of the U.S.) The book, Farthing by Jo Walton, was written in 2006, but it’s so Trumpian it scared me, too. Two more prophetic books: Gibbon’s Decline and Fall (1996) and The Gate to Women’s Country (1993) by Sheri S. Tepper. All three of these books were written by women who all must have engaged in time travel and visited us in the first months of the regime of the Troll-in-Chief. Gina, you’re right when you describe a society “obsessed with a given perspective that damages everyone in the community. Giving power to a few based on hopes for oneself can lead to tragic results.”
Thanks (I think) for this excellent, thoughtful post. Good luck with book sales!
Thank you Gina. I’m quite sure that if Jesus were to walk into some churches today he would be again, crucified in person. just as he is in the most vulnerable in society.
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Sounds like an interesting book you have on your hands there. I usually stay away from any “christian” books (growing up with Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer on every shelf all over the house while listening to “prosperity gospel” on t.v. made me ill), but this one seems like it’d speak to me. Hmm…I’ll have to give that a whirl.
Haven’t read “The Handmaid’s Tale” yet, and might never…sounds like my version of Hell right there next to “Fahrenheit 451” and “The Man in the High Castle.” Probably the scariest one I’ve read–especially with the Trump election–has to be Sinclair Lewis’ “It Can’t Happen Here.” For a book written in 1935, it’s downright frightening how relevant it is today.
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I am interested in reading it. I like how you say, “Make Humanity Great Again.”
Gina, hit it out of the park this time. Well written! The Title and subtitle should be enough to make one think.