Hearing P!nk sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl a few weeks ago made me feel all the feels. Not just because I love her (and I do luuuuuurve her), but also because the Star-Spangled Banner in general evokes a lot of emotions from me. I grew up with a tremendous respect for the flag, for our country, and for our soldiers. My grandfathers, my father, and two of my brothers-in-law are military veterans. Our family stands tall and proud with our hands over our hearts when we hear this song and see the stars and stripes.
I also support our police officers. I teach my children to trust the police if they are scared or need help. And I appreciate them putting their lives on the line for our safety, believing wholeheartedly that most of them are honorable and true to their blue uniforms.
I am not a gun-owner, but I have family and friends who hunt and have guns they feel they need for protection—guns that are locked up and safely out of any child’s reach. And I support their right to do so.
And this may surprise you. I emphatically support the mission of Colin Kaepernick and those who’ve joined his cause to kneel. Because I believe our country is broken in many ways. I believe there are different Americas for different people, and the experience I have had—as a privileged white woman—is not the same as the life others have lived.
I love this country something fierce, and it’s because of that loyalty and devotion that I want it to get better. Much like when my kids are sick, I want to help. I want to cure them. Well, if peaceful protests like that of Colin Kaepernick get people talking, and spark a movement that might help our nation heal, then hell yes, I support it.
And I emphatically believe our country needs gun control reform. I don’t want to take away my friend’s hunting rifle. I do want it safely stored and for all who use it to be properly trained and licensed. And if he shoots a deer and comes over with venison, I’m gonna put it in my belly. But the accessibility to guns like the AR-15, which is continuously used to shoot and kill large groups of people—often children—is unacceptable. And I stand with my fellow Americans who are demanding change in order to protect our kids.
I’m also a Christian. I believe in God and teach my kids to follow the teachings of Jesus. I also believe passionately that members of the LGBTQ community deserve equal rights—like the right to live safely, marry, have children, and go about their lives without facing discrimination. I have family members who are gay and transgender. And yes, we believe that God loves them. That Jesus loves them. That what defines us as Christians is the way we treat one another. And that the path to heaven is lined with kindness and grace.
Because, guess what? We can be more than one thing.
You can come at me with your Bible teachings. I know what the Bible teaches. I don’t care if it says a union can only exist between a man and a woman. We model ourselves after Jesus in this house. And he loved the lepers, and the thieves, and even people who threw stones at his head. So I’m pretty sure he loved my kind uncle who told corny jokes and who also happened to be transgender. And my very kind gay neighbors with an impeccably manicured lawn. The thought of raising my kids in a household where we judge others for who they love is unacceptable.
And I believe Jesus would be heartbroken at seeing Philando Castile shot in his car with his daughter in the backseat. Or Tamir Rice, who is not much older than my son, shot to death at a park for doing something white boys do all the time (and somehow stay safe).
It is because of my Christianity and love for this country that I stand alongside those who are mistreated, discriminated against, and denied basic rights. It is because of my Christianity and love for this country that I am fighting for gun legislation reform. It is because of my Christianity and love for this country that I believe in welcoming and joining hands with Muslims, with Jews, with Buddhists, and with those who practice no religion at all as we try to make this nation safer and kinder.
I do not fit in one square box. I am not one thing. And I don’t want to be.
I am a patriotic American Christian. I drink beer and swear. I go to church a lot, but not every Sunday. I believe in loving our neighbors and helping those who need it. I believe in the importance of realizing my privilege, knowing how fortunate and blessed I am, and paying that forward. I believe that your kids deserve a place in this world just as much as my kids do, whether they are boys or girls, black or white, gay or straight. Whether they are immigrants or 5th generation Americans. Whether they are tall or short, athletes or bookworms, the smartest in the class, or struggling with math. And having lived in five states, I’ve switched churches a lot. You can be damn sure (see? there’s that swearing again) that when we “church shop” we look for a place that welcomes everyone. EVERY. ONE.
So when I stand for the flag or fold my hands to pray, please don’t loop me in with judgmental Americans who spew hateful rhetoric behind the veil of the Bible or patriotism. That’s not my Christianity. That’s not my church. That’s not what I believe American means.
And if you call me a liberal snowflake, that’s fine by me. I live in Wisconsin. I fucking love the snow.