Monday, September 12, 2016

This Election’s True Faith-Based Candidate

As regular readers know all to well, in general I hold Christianity, especially as practiced by conservative and evangelical Christians, in very low regard.  Indeed, hypocrisy seems to be one of the main traits of the "godly folk" who loudly proclaim their religiosity while condemning and hating others who look, love or believe differently from they themselves. Indeed, as past posts have examined, studies have documented that children raised in conservative Christian households show less empathy toward others than the non-religious and are much more judging of others.  Behavior that is hardly in keeping with Christ's commandment to love one another or to care for the poor, the hungry and/or homeless.  And, if one looks at the political party that so many of the Christofascists support, i.e., the Republican Party, that party's policies are likewise the antithesis of what the Gospel message teaches.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the irony of the fact that Hillary Clinton's religious background and the policies she has supported for decades are more in tune with the Gospel message than the rhetoric of the GOP, the Christofascists themselves, or Donald Trump.  Here are column excerpts:  
This is the inversion election, a contest in which so many of our familiar mental categories have been turned upside down.
This year, it’s the Republican presidential candidate who says the United States isn’t great anymore and the Democrat who insists it is. The Republican says that the former KGB agent presiding over Russia is a better leader than the president of the United States. The Democrat condemns him for it.
But last week reminded us that there is another role reversal in this election. There is one candidate who is authentically religious, who has thought seriously about what the Scriptures teach, and whose own view of the world was changed radically by her engagement with faith. Her name is Hillary Clinton.
Yes, I flinched when I typed that word “authentically.” How can we know whose faith is authentic or truly understand someone else’s relationship to God? It’s hard enough for most of us to come to terms honestly with our own relationship to the Almighty.
Moreover, I acknowledge that I bring a series of predispositions to my case here, beginning with the most basic: my conviction that Clinton is fit to be president and Donald Trump is not. More importantly in this context, her journey in wrestling with the relationship between religious commitment and political action was remarkably similar to my own.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a key influence on both of us. She reexamined many of her assumptions when she heard him speak. I did the same  . . . . I grew up in a conservative family, as Clinton did, and King challenged me — as he did her and millions of other Americans — to embrace a Christian’s obligation to struggle for social and racial justice.
So let me be more specific about my definition of authenticity. It focuses on passages from the letter of James that Clinton cited in her speech last Thursday to the predominantly black National Baptist Convention. James suggests that the best measure of authenticity is whether your faith affects how you think and what you do. Clinton’s religious views, I’d argue, are organically connected to many of the choices she has made in her life.
“The Scripture tells us that faith without works is dead,” she said. “The Epistle of James tells us we cannot just be hearers of the Word, we must be doers.” Clinton explained that she embraced “an activist social justice faith , a roll-up-your-sleeves and get-your-hands-dirty faith.”
What I do doubt is the depth of the conviction of politicians whose religious commitments seem to have little connection to their lives. They paint themselves as religious by either pushing the social conservatives’ hot buttons or, as Trump did Friday at the Values Voter Summit, appealing to their sense of victimhood. He spoke about religious liberty and criticized a media culture that “mocks and demeans people of faith.”
Conservative religious people have every right to test liberal believers by their willingness to defend the role of faith in our public square. But liberal believers have a comparable right to test conservatives by whether what the Gospel teaches about love, justice and our obligation to the poor has any relationship to their public actions and the policies they promote.
Clinton also spoke of “the awesome responsibilities of power and the frailties of human action.” I do prefer politicians who follow Kierkegaard’s lead in approaching the burdens of governing with a certain amount of “fear and trembling.” I see at least some of that spirit in Clinton. I wish I could find it in Trump.

The Christofascists and most of the "professional Christian" set such as Tony Perkins, Franklin Graham,  James Dobson, et al, shout loudly about their supposed faith, yet one sees little or nothing in the personal lives that gives proof to the authenticity of their claimed beliefs.  Some like Graham run on the service charities, yet in the process financially enrich themselves beyond the dreams of most average citizens.   A similar disconnect occurs with the harsh, reverse Robin Hood policies of the GOP which they vociferously support. As for the narcissistic, greed driven Donald Trump, don't even get me started.  Meanwhile, Clinton, for all her faults at least supports programs in keeping with the Gospel social ministry message.  

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