Despite the title, this book isn’t so much a reflection on Christianity in a post-Trump world or where the evangelical church goes from here. It’s a thoughtful memoir of what Heidi Neumark’s ministry and congregation has been doing before Trump, during Trump, and will continue to do in the wake of Trump that stands polar opposite to the current political administration. This conversation, recorded on the Friday after the end of the 2020 election, is raw, honest, and a comfort.
The Conversation | Heidi Neumark
This excerpt has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity. You can listen to the full interview by clicking the play button above or subscribing at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Josh Olds: Reverend Neumark, your book is subtitled “Being Christian in the Wake of Trump.” [At the time of recording, the 2020 election had not yet been called.] Do you feel like any of what you wrote changes if he remains in office for four more years?
Heidi Neumark: Not really. I titled it “In the Wake of Trump” and with the sense that it’s true whether Trump is president for four more years or not. Trump hasn’t invented any of the divisions and divisiveness and violence against people that that I see in our nation today. Obviously, Trump didn’t invent white supremacy or racism or homophobia or, you know, xenophobia, misogyny, but what Trump does is—he doesn’t try to cover it over—he exploits what’s already there. Now, that creates a level of danger. And I do think that if Trump is president for four more years, the level of danger for vulnerable people of death and violence will rise…But it was here before Trump and is clearly here even if Trump is voted out. And that means there’s a lot of work for us to do.
Josh Olds: That’s so true. This election cycle, even though it appears that Trump will probably not win, has mad it obvious that in terms of a large portion of the culture like his style of politics. Trumpism and everything that it entails seems to be here to stay in American life. And that makes your book very important because it shows us a different way of living, and a different way of being. You very much set up your book as a depiction of your ministry and your church and the work that they’re doing as a contrast to the words and actions of the 45th President. This book is about what you were already doing before Donald Trump, what you have been doing, during his leadership, what you will be doing after his leadership. Why choose to tie this book specifically to the 45th president in that light?
Heidi Neumark: Well, I didn’t start out doing that. But I noticed that, as I was writing, as I was preaching, as I was living—Trump kind of loomed over it all…in a larger than life way, kind of representing so much that is antithetical to the gospel. And so it just because it was so much in my mind, it found its way as part of the pattern of the book. But as you say, the stories in the book from this community of faith and in this larger community were going on before Trump, during Trump, and will continue on perhaps with even greater urgency after Trump.
Josh Olds: Let’s go back to closer to the beginning of your own personal story. How did you come to be involved in this work towards social justice?
Heidi Neumark: It was interesting. And I think this is important for the church today, especially, you know, white, middle class churches. That’s the church I grew up in: a white middle class suburban church. And that church really shaped me to connect the gospel with social justice…. and then my life experience pushed me in that direction. I went to seminary in Argentina under the military dictatorship for a year and a half. That that was a very formative experience for me. And then I also think, kind of, under the surface, this is more of a