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In Our America

My favorite red, white, and blue image of the last several years is the “In Our America” signs that began cropping up in my hometown of Portland, Oregon shortly after the General Election in 2016.  I first saw the sign on my own brother’s house and then noticed that they were everywhere in Portland.

According to the website of the organization that created the unique poster, which is also marketed as postcards, t-shirts, and bumper stickers, the “In Our America” graphic was designed, in anticipation of the new Trump Administration’s policy pronouncements, to communicate what is also one of Eden Church’s strongest value statements:  that our America is about welcoming people and providing opportunity for all. 

Actually, if you make a closer study of the signs, which are still proudly displayed in Portland and beyond, the values are much broader and more specific than anything we customarily say the 4th of July represents.  Instead of independence and freedom, “In Our America” claims that what we value, respect, and cherish in America is equality, love, black lives, immigrants & refugees, the disabled, women’s control of their body, the planet, and diversity!  

Sadly, the “In Our America” signs were prophetic, as if the designers could clearly see the multiple justice fronts we would soon be defending against attack from our duly elected representatives.  Across the board, we have witnessed many shocking attempts to roll back the progress we thought we had achieved, especially in civil, immigrant, and women’s rights.
As the lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner remind us, these battles aren’t over yet…our flag is still waving proudly, not yet completely co-opted by the red-hatted quest to restore “greatness” to the small portion of our society that is male, white, and US-born. 

Like our ancestors who fought British tyranny and used their life lessons to craft a founding document that we have relied on to protect all people from their own government, we have to use our life lessons to insist that America return to its primary values of protecting individual rights within a system of law and order while creating the economic and social welfare programs we need to ensure equality is not just something we say on the 4th of July.  Keep speaking up, keep sending money to those organizations that are doing work that supports our Christian values of sanctuary and inclusion, and keep talking to each other about what really matters. 

Until the battle is won and the most vulnerable are protected, I pray every day that God helps our country to remember that in our America, the red, white, and blue stands for more than the freedom to take a day off and enjoy fireworks.  It stands for protection of individual freedom and freedom from need — everyday.

–Pastor Pepper