The Bishop of California, Marc Andrus, reflects on recent comments attributed to President Donald Trump about Haiti and African nations.
The Diocese of California has developed, since the Haiti earthquake of 2010, a close relationship with the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti. The Diocese of Haiti is a full and equal member of the Episcopal Church, every bit as much a member of this religious family as California and every bit as much a member of our hemisphere as the United States. I personally have made six trips to Haiti to come to know, understand and work together with Haitians for their own rebuilding after the earthquake.
Haiti, I have come to learn, is an admirable nation, a great people. The most lucrative slave colony in the Caribbean – so profitable because of the intense brutality used on first the Native Americans and then the African slaves brought in chains to work there – Haiti threw off its European overlords, the first successful slave rebellion since the classical Roman period. From that remarkable beginning in a crucible of revolution, Haiti has sought a path forward that inspired an African American priest to move to Haiti and become the first African American bishop in the Episcopal Church.
I speak personally about Haiti today in light of President Trump’s unacceptable remarks about Haiti, but of course he did not confine his comments to Haiti alone, but slurred and insulted several other countries by name and many others by implication. Since I have been bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California, I have been holding up the resonant goal of the Beloved Community, invoked by the Revd Dr Martin Luther King Jr, who wrote:
“Love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys. The aftermath of the ‘fight with fire’ method which you suggest is bitterness and chaos, the aftermath of the love method is reconciliation and creation of the beloved community.” (1957)
The Beloved Community is the community of the whole, all of God’s people, all of life. The Beloved Community is our ideal and in the Beloved Community all find welcome in the arms of our Saviour. In the shadow our President’s remarks have cast, I call on all people of faith and good will to shine the light of the Beloved Community.
Saviour Christ, you pervade the whole world, your Father God contains the universe, the Holy Spirit holds all together with the power of love. Help us, we pray to live always in the light of this love and your presence, that the Beloved Community may be come to be for all of life. Give us the courage to stand against all that divides, degrades and dominates any and all of your children.