“When Rejoicing is Due”: On the 2020 Election

By Stephen G. Ray Jr.

Here in the United States of America we stand on terrain unfamiliar to most of us. We stand on the other side of an election in which the worst tendencies of our nation and specters of its past were on full display. We have lived through a time and witnessed something which few generations in America’s history have seen. Because of the explicit embodiment of white resentment and grievance that is Donald J. Trump, white supremacy in all of its virulent forms (racism, misogyny, homophobia, and xenophobia) was on the ballot. The nation was given a choice between two very different visions of just what we mean by We the People. In the one, is dogged conviction that America could be so much more than we have been as a nation shackled by histories of lethal oppression and exclusion. This is a vision of our nation that takes the words upon which it was founded to be so much larger than the men who wrote them. It is a vision that the truth that All People Are Created Equal and Endowed by Their Creator with Certain Inalienable Rights is a call placed upon each generation to make real.

This vision of America has, for today, won out over the siren’s call of tribe, malice, and hate. I say for today because it is ever the case that the limits of human imagination leave us vulnerable to making small the grand and wondrous gift of possibility which God ever renews before and within us.

The results of this election come as particularly good news for religious people of good will. The concern for us has been that in past few years, the tremendous power of the government has been used to bring hurt and harm to the most vulnerable in our midst. From the “Muslim Ban,” to the abominable “Family Separation Policy,” to the constant harangues against the very idea that Black Live Matter, this administration has literally destroyed the lives of many among the “least of these” and inspired others to end the lives of many. Our houses of worship — synagogues, mosques, and churches — became killing fields. Our public spaces became places of open assault on the dignity and humanity of so many deemed as other. While we will never finally be saved by any nation or government, we rejoice that our nation, among the most powerful to have existed in history, is now in the hands of friends of humanity and our planet.

Our work remains. It falls to all religious people of good-will to make real a world filled with justice and mercy. The work is before us to save this planet and give our descendants a future filled with hope. Chicago Theological Seminary stands with all who will join in this work.