On Saturday, thousands gathered for a rally at the South Carolina state house to “stand with God.”

It would be curious to ask the crowd, ‘which god?’

Presumably, they are referring to some version of the God of Jesus Christ. But, the God of Jesus Christ is always on the side of those who are marginalized, oppressed, disenfranchised, and excluded from the halls of power and privilege – with those who are left out of the structured and institutionalized spaces of well-being historically constructed and maintained for the benefit of only a few.

So, really, this rally isn’t about solidarity with the God who comes near in Jesus, but rather solidarity with Pharoah’s god of brick-making, with the familiar golden calf, with Baal, and with the Invisible Hand of Adam Smith and Milton Friedman, with Pilate, with Herod, with systemic homeostasis, ‘peace,’ ‘decency,’ and ‘religious freedom’…

This can’t be solidarity with the One to whom Mary sang in Her Magnificat:

“God has shown strength with his arm
and has scattered the proud in their conceit, casting down the mighty from their thrones and lifting up the lowly. God has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.”

Or, solidarity with Jesus, who preached these words to the ‘religious’ and political authorities of the day:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed…”

The crowds, led by religious and political authorities – they ‘stood with god’ – they held a rally too at a Roman State House of their own. Perhaps the campaign’s platform! The beatitudes of a godly and appropriate people: Preservation of the ‘family,’ ‘biblical marriage,’ ‘morality,’ the ‘right’ to bear arms, prayer in schools, the true glory of ‘whiteness,’ trickle-down/supply-side economics, ‘god’ and country, making America great again, individualism, social Darwinism, and so much more…

On that day, the God of Mary, of Jesus, of the outcast, of the ‘illegal’ immigrant, of the ‘indecent,’ of the ‘deserving’ poor, of the ‘unclean,’ of the sick, of the humble, of the powerless, the God of black lives and brown lives, the God of transgender people, the effeminate God, the weakling God, the Queer – this God was executed by the system and by the crowds.

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Matt Berryman

Matt Berryman serves Reconciling Ministries Network as executive director. Prior to joining the staff of RMN, Matt spent three years in law school at the Florida Coastal School during which time he worked for churches, law firms, and LexisNexis as a legal editor.From 2002-2009, Matt served United Methodist congregations in the Jacksonville area of the Florida Conference.In addition to serving churches in the United Kingdom, he has led training events and workshops for The United Methodist Church, The Fund for Theological Education, Emory University, and the Fellowship of United Methodists for Music and Worship Arts.He received a B.A. from the University of South Carolina and a M.Div. from Emory University. Although he loves the heat and sunshine of Florida, he anticipates growing to love the charm of cold weather living in Illinois and the perfection of the snowflake!Matt loves an outdoor concert, a good idea, and his 14 year old son, Aidan.
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