On White Jesus & Our Wombs

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I stand on the green shag carpet and stare up at White Jesus and his crown of thorns.
Grandma tells me that this is the man who saves us from evil.

Years later, not sure where to go,
I take a last drag of my cigarette and walk a few blocks to the closest church.
I open the white steeple doors in search of safety.
I return to the place where water was first sprinkled on my fresh baby skin —
In the name of Jesus, the man that saves us from evil.

Walking down the long white halls of the church office wing,
I run my hands along the gold plaques and sturdy wood doors.
Robin and Susan in charge of children and admin,
Matt and Wayne the Reverends to be revered.
They look like the Jesus Grandma told me about.
Maybe they can save me from evil?

I dead end into Matt’s office, with his golden plaque reading “Youth Pastor”.
He informs me I can come in, but we have to leave the door open -
I have a womb, you see, which makes me a risk.
I could falsely accuse him of something.

My womb says this isn’t safe,
but - with tears in my eyes - I argue with her —
I need to belong.
I need safety.
I need answers to why I am here, suffering.
I need a place to go when I can’t go home.
I look up at Matt with his long brown hair, blue eyes, and porcelain skin
and my traumatized brain declares to my womb:
“It’s ok, he’s here to save you from evil.”

It didn’t happen all at once.
The initiations into White Christendom came slowly, over-time —
increasing in their intensity as I morphed into someone entirely new.
Each initiation demanding I silence the voice of my womb.

It started with youth group games like “Communists versus Christians”.
I didn’t know what a communist was,
but Jesus was here to save them from evil.

It continued on with prayers for the souls of Asian, Native, and African people —
they worshipped the wrong gods.
Prayers for the souls of gay people —
they loved the wrong people.
We prayed that Jesus would save them from evil.

White Jesus told me to stop having sex,
and to cover my body.
And so I did.
He was saving me from evil.

During one particular initiation I felt my womb say “No” really loudly.
We were praying for people who had abortions,
to save them from evil.

I wanted to stay silent, but my womb said speak.
I opened my mouth and out came:

”Would God forgive someone
for having an abortion
if they were 12 years old and raped?”

A new initiation: A White Jesus protest.

Ignoring the rape stories children in our church had shared with him,
Ignoring the senior pastor preying on wombs in the congregation,
Ignoring the scriptures,
Ignoring his own soul,
White-Jesus-Matt replied:
Rape doesn’t happen often.”

Years later, a 12-year-old brown girl
fleeing violence and starvation
crawls across the desert in search of safety.
Not sure where to go, she walks a few blocks to a clinic.
She opens the non-profit doors and dead ends into my office.
She sits down on my couch
and looking up at me through her tears,
I hear my own voice echoing back in hers:

“Would God forgive someone
for having an abortion
if they were 12 years old and raped?”

That day and now, I join her in weeping.

I weep for her.

I weep for me.

I weep for us.

Because as the scales fall from our eyes,
we will see clearly
that White Jesus
doesn’t save,
can’t save,
us from evil.

But our wombs will.

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Kelly Strickland