I’m struggling with a word right now –“faith.” Years ago, my life-changing, life-saving therapist would say to me, “Patience and faith, Jurian. Patience and faith.” She drummed it into me. This mantra sustained me through difficult moments for many years. “Hold on,” it reminded me. “You may be struggling, but don’t give up just before the miracle occurs, and don’t give up just because you’re having a hard time believing that things are ever going to get better. Have faith that tomorrow will be better.” It was hopeful, uplifting, full of promise. It required effort, dedication, resolve. It did not, however, require me to lie to myself.
My old reliable mantra is not working for me right now, quite the way it used to. And — I’ll say it — I am really pissed off about that. According to a May 14, 2020, Pew Research poll, 75% of White Evangelical Protestants still believe Donald Trump is doing a good job as president. “People of faith” still — despite every awful thing that this despicable man has done over the last 3 ½ years — continue to support this dangerous, corrupt, self-centered, power-hungry racist president. Their specious use of the word “faith” is threatening to ruin it for me. The word now gets stuck in my craw. “People of faith” who consider themselves righteous, moral and principled support a man, an administration and an agenda that is increasingly unjust, immoral and inhumane. They have corrupted the word ‘faith’ and distorted it, much like Conservative Republicans somehow corrupted the image of the American flag.
The American flag is a symbol that once stood for the principles on which this nation was founded — ‘all people are created equal; all people have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…’ Instead, somewhere along the way, Conservatives perverted that image. I wouldn’t dare place an American flag on my car or lawn today for fear that I would be thought anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Democrat, and more.
“Faith,” according to Dictionary.com, is defined, first, as confidence or trust in a person or thing. Second, it is defined as belief in something for which one does not have proof. But nowhere is faith defined as belief in something which requires denial of facts, truth, evidence, science, experimentation, observation and common sense. Faith in one’s religious doctrine should not require one to deny facts, which science proved centuries ago. Yet, for Creationists, it does. Faith that one’s leader is good and just should not require one to deny all evidence to the contrary. Yet, for stalwart Republicans in 2020 America, it does. Faith that Covid-19 is going to magically disappear in a short time should not require denial of all medical knowledge and scientific data indicating otherwise. Yet, for this president and for Fox News followers, it does. What these groups practice should not be called faith. I believe we should re-name it “denialism”. Any faith that requires denial of truth and fact and science — that requires lying to oneself or to others — should not be deemed faith-based. Denial-based would be a more accurate description.
Faith is essentially hopeful. Denialism is uneducated at best, hateful at worst. True faith leads one to behavior that is morally good, kind and empathetic. Denialism leads one to behavior that is cruel, self-serving, exploitative, and seeks power at the expense of others.
Today, I reclaim my beloved mantra. Patience and faith, my friends, patience and faith. May we work together in these dark times — even and especially when it feels like we may never get there — to create a world that is more just, more equal, more honest and more compassionate. I have faith.
Photo by Lee Jeffries Portraits.