Hannah Wilkinson is in her third year at King’s, studying history. She is President of Unicef on Campus Cambridge and runs a women’s Christian Ministry. She enjoys following American politics as well as feeding a love of coffee. She hopes also to pursue post-graduate study in the US next year. As a proud Christian and feminist, she writes that two key ‘F’ words – Feminism and Faith – are central to her rejection of Trumpism.
On the 20th January the President elect, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. This is a man who rose to power while stepping on minorities and standing on a platform of sickening racism and sexism. Over 3,660 miles away, women and allies will take to the streets of Washington DC in what is set to be one of the biggest demonstrations in US history, the day after the inauguration. Over 300 solidarity protests will take place across 50 states and in 30 other countries. I will be in attendance at the Women’s March on London. I will stand in solidarity with marchers in DC to send a message to the new US government that we stand together, fighting for the protection of our human rights and we will not stay silent in the face of the attacks the President has made on people of colour, LGBT+ people, the disabled, and immigrants.
We march because, as the organiser Lisa Sarsour said, ‘we have no choice. We need to stand up against an administration that threatens everything we believe in, in what we hope will become one of the largest grassroots, progressive movements ever seen”.
In the face of utter despair at the platform of hate Trump has risen to, I cling to my only two beliefs that can shed light in the face of such darkness: my faith in Jesus Christ and my feminist identity. These are the reasons why I am marching.
Polls have suggested that around four-fifths of American evangelicals voted for Trump, compared to a small 16% who supported Clinton. Bill Johnson, prominent Christian and Senior Pastor of the famous Bethel Church, caused a stir in Christian circles when he solidly defended his support for Trump. It is no secret that the Republican Party base is overflowing with conservative Christians. Thus, when I tell people I’m fighting Trump because of my faith this can cause some confusion, given that many perceive religion as an instinctively reactionary force.
When I drop the first ‘f’ bomb and begin to talk about how my faith and politics are in direct contradiction to the stance of most conservative, Republican-voting Christians, I’m sure some of my feminist friends think I’m trying to dodge a loophole in the Bible, forcing two conflicting ideas together and trying desperately to make them fit. Perhaps the same confusion and awkwardness is also expressed in some Christian circles when I proudly announce I identify as the other ‘f’ word, conjuring up images of bra-burning Eves.
Of course, the Christian Church is an incredibly diverse body of people and beliefs thus it would be wrong to assume that even a majority of the Worldwide Christian church have either thrown their support behind Trump or are even sympathetic to his views. As a member of the UK Methodist Church, I am proud to belong to a religious movement that publically denounced Trump and his views for being at odds with the Church’s stance, with the President and Vice President criticising Trump’s rhetoric. They speak for many of us within and without the UK Methodist Church that his declarations are ‘profoundly at odds with [our] beliefs and values’ as ‘our understanding of God’s purpose is that all people are valued and should be treated with dignity and respect’.
However, the idea of being a Christian and a feminist, especially in more conservative settings, can seem contradictory. How can one navigate a religion which, due to its human nature, can reflect the negative effects of our broken world? This is especially clear to women and was a real test to my faith which almost caused me to leave the Church aged 16.By this point, my feminist and political worldview began to develop and I could not understand the stance of some sections of the Christian Church when it came to the treatment of women, whether dealing with issues of women’s leadership or the shaming of women’s sexuality. I was not an Eve and definitely not a Mary and I was fed up of trying to defend a book authored by men using the few stories of women who seemed to have more complex characters than a merely being a temptress or faithful servant. At that age, the Christian faith seemed to embody everything that my feminist views were telling me was wrong with the world.
But when you look at the scriptures, Jesus lived amongst the people that no one cared about. He denounced the hypocritical and exploitative religious leaders, spent time with tax collectors and prostitutes, and championed the interests of the poor and the ill. Religious men called him a ‘glutton’ and a ‘drunkard’. He loved the people society rejected and he saved the persecuted, protected the weak, and fed the hungry. It is the example of Jesus that drives my passion for social justice.
Religious leaders, and religious groups, are human and sometimes, more often than not, they can be on the wrong side of history. It is as important to my belief as a Christian that I use my voice to fight against this injustice, that I stand in solidarity with those of whom this election result has kept awake at night with fear, and that I protest to keep mine and others fundamental, human rights. In my opinion, those who used their Christian faith to support such hate as embodied in Trump have missed the point of the example of the love of Jesus Christ.
My feminist beliefs drive the sick-to-my-stomach-feeling when I watch the man who has called women every derogatory name under the sun, suggested sexual assault is natural when men and women work in the same environment, implied abortion should be punishable, and bragged on record of ‘grabbing (women) by the p*ssy’ gains so much power. My feminism prompts utter terror in response to the hatred minority groups are about to face in the next few years. My feminism tells me to be angry. My feminism tells me to go out and fight on the 21st. But my feminism is also honest about the fact that the fight is not over and this is only the beginning.
My faith and belief in the father of justice drives the repugnance I feel when I watch Trump step closer to becoming President. My faith in Jesus Christ – the man who overturned the tables in the temple – tells me to be angry. My faith in a God whose love is greater than all tells me to go out and love – not just in spite of, but also in the face of this hatred. My faith drives me to fight but my belief in the Lord and Saviour tells me the fight is already won, even if I cannot see it yet.
My Christian faith and my feminist beliefs are not mutually exclusive and they are definitely not separate. I will be marching on Saturday remembering those strong women on whose shoulders we stand. I will fight to preserve the rights I am blessed to have now borne out of their sacrifice, from voting to reproductive rights. I will march on Saturday remembering Jesus’ example of unconditional love and acceptance of all. I will stand on the Women’s March on London being mindful of my God, the creator of all things just, and the fight She has already won.
Friday 20 January 2017, Keynes Hall, King’s College from 5.30pm
On Friday, January 20th, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. What will his presidency bring for the United States and the world? After an election year marked by anger and hate, what can concerned students and scholars do to contribute positively to politics? Join Kings Politics and the Talking Politics podcast, with speakers David Runciman, Aaron Rapport and Maha Rafi Atal for a panel discussion of Trump’s inauguration, what to expect next, and how you can get involved.
At 5.30pm we screen the inauguration speech. This will be followed by the panel discussion and Q&A from approximately 6.15pm onwards. We ask that everyone arrive at the Keynes Hall by 6pm so as not to interfere with the Talking Politics panel.