Teaching the faith in the times of Trump
How do I share with her that one of Trump’s signature policy plans was to prevent her grandparents, her cousins, her uncles and aunts—basically every single Muslim relative of hers living abroad—from entering the U.S. purely on the basis of their religion?
How do I break it to her that the “ban” isn’t the only Trump proposal to brazenly discriminate against peaceful, law-abiding Muslims? That the president has also said that my daughter and other Muslim Americans have to be registered on a database and, when asked by a reporter how his proposal differed from the Nazi registry of German Jews, he replied: “You tell me.”
How Do I Explain This to My Kids? . The New Press. p.18
What is a parent to tell their child when they see and hear the President of the United States and his government discriminating against people because of their religion?
Tell them that the President and his government is wrong and it is against the constitution of the United States and our religious beliefs. Tell them that their religion not only prohibits this kind of religious discrimination but enourages people to think for themselves and to search for truth and meaning in many places, many traditions, many schools of thought, many religions, and that belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and in justice, equity, and compassion for all.
Depending on the age of the child, we might further explain that there is evil in the world and often people do evil things. This fact should not surprise or alarm or hurt you. It should make you alert and aware of your power to choose evil or good. It is important to be able to name evil and good, wrong and right, destructive and constructive beliefs, values, and actions because then we can manage them.
Some parents are inclined to protect their children from evil fearing that knowledge of evil will harm them. The parent does not want to contribute to a loss of their child’s innocence. This tendency, while well intended, is usually a mistake because it decreases rather than increases awareness and without awareness we are victimized by forces we can’t identify and don’t understand. If we can’t name it, we can’t manage it.
This teaching activity of calling a spade a spade and taking the bull by the horns depends on the child’s age. However, by the age of 7 most children begin to discern the difference between right and wrong. Almost all 7 years olds know that it is wrong to discriminate against people based on race, religion, ethnicity, and other physical characteristics. Children of 7 know it is wrong to bully, tease, and attack other children who are different from them.
Unitarian Universalism is a faith tradition based on covenantal relationships that affirm and promote seven principles. The Trumpists believe and act in ways that are opposite of UU principles. What is happening in these days of Trump are golden teaching opportunities for all the world’s children and adults.
Keep the faith!