In the late 1980s I joined the Pledge of Resistance, a group of citizens who pledged to actively resist U.S. military intervention in Central America. Such overt intervention, including an invasion, seemed increasingly likely at the time – covert intervention had been routinely occurring – and our resistance was to be organized around a variety of nonviolent actions, including occupying congressional offices until the Congress moved to end the invasion.
We need a new Pledge of Resistance in this country, designed for these times. In the sacred vows every member of The United Methodist Church takes upon joining the church, vows echoed in virtually every other mainstream Christian denomination, we “renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness [and] reject the evil powers of this world,” and we pledge “to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.”
Before the 2016 presidential election, I didn’t fully appreciate how much strength the evil powers of this world had gained in the U.S. and how pervasive they had become. Others guessed or knew it; I was more naïve than I knew, and the strength with which these powers presented themselves surprised me.
Now the mask has been completely peeled away, leaving the true nature of this president and his cronies apparent beyond any doubt. It has been bad enough that the Ozymandias (Trump) regime has dismissed the last vestige of human decency by choosing to separate children from their parents in his current immigration tantrum. He also appears to have signed the final documents that seal his Faustian bargain.
“You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are,” he said. “These aren’t people – these are animals.” Ozymandias (Trump) was lashing out at undocumented immigrants during a meeting on so-called sanctuary cities last month, according to The New York Times as reported in The Atlantic. Dehumanizing anyone, especially a whole group of people – redefining them as animals and not really human – is a defining early step toward being able to exterminate them with impunity. Nazi Germany did it to the Jews; the U.S. has tried with more or less success to do it to Japanese Americans, Native Americans, and African Americans; many have tried to do it to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
The need is urgent for anyone who professes a basic human respect for life, especially for communities of faith – whether we call ourselves a church, synagogue, temple, or sangha, United Methodist or any other name, or no name at all – to live out the pledge “to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” I’ll be among the first to sign up. Who’s with me?