Local voters say to Hispanics: 'We don't want you here'
Earlier this month, an overwhelming majority of citizens in Barry County and Lawrence County cast their votes for Donald J. Trump.
As a Christian and a long-time resident of rural Missouri, I find this fact profoundly distressing. I have experienced first-hand the kind and welcoming spirit of rural Missourians, but now we have reinforced the stereotyped image of ourselves as ignorant and hateful racists.
Donald Trump began his campaign by calling Mexicans "rapists." He advocates the construction of a wall along our southern border and the forced deportation of millions of our immigrant neighbors. In a community where roughly a quarter of our population claims Hispanic heritage, white Trump voters have sent a clear message to their neighbors -- we do not like you, and we do not want you here.
Meanwhile, our comfortable white churches have, at best, remained silent about the sinful bigotry of Trump's most vocal supporters and, at worst, even defended the president-elect as champion of the pro-life cause or family values -- which begs the question: whose lives exactly are we for? Whose families do we value?
The Jesus I learned about in my rural Baptist Sunday School blessed the poor, welcomed foreigners and outsiders, respected women, and spent most of his time with "sinners" of our sort or another.
If we white Christians want to prove we're not the hateful people the other half of the country believes us to be, I suggest we begin following that example.