The election of Donald Trump has caused pain and uncertainty in The Episcopal Church (TEC), says Canon (lay) Noreen Duncan, TEC’s representative to Council of General Synod (CoGS).
Addressing CoGS on November 19, Duncan spoke of the sense of “betrayal” she feels as someone who immigrated to the United States and now sees the values she had always associated with her new home “slipping out from under us.”
In nearly a year of campaigning, Trump was frequently criticized for stirring up animosity toward immigrants, Muslims, and religious and ethnic minorities, as well as for his derogatory comments toward women.
Duncan said Trump’s victory was made more difficult for her by the fact that so many of his supporters identified as Christians. According to the Pew Research Centre, 58% of Protestants, 60% of white Catholics and 81% of white evangelicals voted for Trump.
“As part of the Jesus Movement, we are not just people of faith: we are Christians; and the people who apparently seem to have chosen [to vote for Trump], also identify as Christians,” said Duncan. “[But] the values of Christianity are not the values that have been espoused in this election, and that is part of the reason I feel so betrayed.”
Duncan said that while she hadn’t planned on spending so much time talking about the U.S. election while in Canada, many CoGS members had asked for her opinion on it.
However, she also spoke about what she had admired in the CoGS meeting, such as the Canadian Anglican church’s commitment to grappling with the challenges of reconciliation-issues that she finds receive less airtime in TEC.
“I am grateful that you can have the conversations, that you speak of reconciliation out of your heart, and you struggle with issues like this,” she said.
Duncan’s comments came after a report from Melanie Delva, the Anglican Church of Canada’s representative on the Executive Council, the equivalent of CoGS for The Episcopal Church. CoGS is the Canadian church’s governing body in between General Synods.
Melanie Delva says the Canadian church could learn from The Episcopal Church’s willingness to involve itself in secular politics. Photo: André Forget
Delva noted that she had already participated in a meeting of the council this year, and that the election had weighed heavily over the proceedings.
“I assured the Episcopal Church…that they have our prayers and our support,” said Delva. “I let them know that we watch very carefully what happens, because what happens in one part of the body of Christ happens to us all.”
One of the things Delva said impressed her most about her visit to TEC, and which she thought the Canadian church could learn from, was its willingness to involve itself in secular politics.
“I was really impressed with the way the council was not afraid to get political,” she said. “They did not seem to have the hesitation I sometimes feel the [Canadian] Anglican church has around taking that next step to taking what could be seen as a political stance, whether for something that is happening in society or against something that is happening in society.”