Adam Lawrence Dyer
4 min readMar 10, 2024


Interpretive image of Sen. Katie Britt

As I have shared here before, I am currently studying for a PhD in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. This work is focused on the ethics of embodiment as a question of equity. My specific concentration explores the way race has been created and reinforced within Western modernity.

In my pastoral training before this, I actively explored issues of sexuality and gender as part of my ministry. I continue to stay closely informed on the global crisis of criminalizing sexuality and weaponized government that marginalizes sexual minorities and in some cases seeks to kill them. I am also deeply concerned with the often religiously mandated marginalization of women through both legal and extrajudicial measures. It is shocking to look at the ways in which the United States, with its draconian roll back of women’s rights is more similar on this front to our supposed global enemies than a long-standing ally like France. Although we give France a run for their money in terms of racist policies around migrants.

I mention my background because in her response to the State of the Union Address, Sen. Katie Britt (R — AL) invoked what I consider from my professional experience to be the most devastating perfect storm of human tragedy. She spoke of the issue of human trafficking in the context of border control, human migration, asylum and sexual assault. I will not paint the graphic picture that Sen. Britt did. That would further the harm.

I would like to, instead, caution voters and politicians from all parties. While I do not know Sen. Britt’s personal experiences, I know that as a woman, she has more than likely experienced sexualization and even sexual violence. I cannot walk in her shoes, I cannot tell her or any woman’s story. Her willing participation in this theatrical and opportunistic display is something she will need to reconcile with her (I assume Christian) god. But the political machine needs to beware of leveraging stories like the one Sen. Britt recounted for political gain. Because of the numbers of women (and men) who experience sexual violence in this world, a story like this may not garner as much sympathy as it does outrage. Too many people will hear a story like this and cringe, not because of the horror, but because it brings them back to their own trauma. Using this reaction as a political ploy is, in a word, disgusting.

And this is where we are at politically. No experiences, or language (thank you Marjorie Taylor Greene) are off the table. There is no line between harm and advantage. There is no accountability for how both policy and words create an unlivable equation of ignorance blended with numbness to violence. If you want to score political points, just co-opt someone else’s story. But I shouldn’t be surprised. Sen. Britt comes from a state where lynching black men and the gruesome mutilation of their bodies was once accompanied by picnic lunches and other “festivities” (Alabama data — https://lynchinginamerica.eji.org/explore/alabama ; book about the culture surrounding lynching — https://uncpress.org/book/9781469620879/lynched/).

Having spent time with both adult and child victims of trafficking; having witnessed the transactional playing field for that nightmare firsthand; having dear friends who work tirelessly around the world to extract people from this horror; having ministered to the aftermath of this violence, I believe Sen. Britt and the Republican Party need to issue a statement of apology. Every victim of trafficking was further harmed by the careless and performative display that millions of people witnessed. Shame on you all. Human trafficking is not an American political football. It is people’s often too young lives being shattered and their humanity being stripped of any sense of civilization. Only they have a right tell their stories. It is a testament to the resilience of the human animal that any of them survive to do so. Far too many do not survive.

I don’t expect the Republican Party to do the right thing. Their concern is fundraising to pay the legal bills of their presumptive candidate. The brittle husk of what is left of their political agenda is preparing to evaporate into dust as the cult of personality replaces it. In fact, while I and other people with a conscience watched Sen. Britt, sickened by her middle-school-does-Peyton-Place performance, I’m sure some of her followers were fully entertained by the arm’s length spectacle of someone else’s suffering. They likely ate it up, along with some fried chicken and a beer…just like the good ol’ days.


Originally published at https://spirituwellness.com on March 10, 2024.