Saturday, November 19, 2016

What It Means to Be a "Christian" In Trump's America

While Donald Trump received the votes of a little more than 25% of registered voters and lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by a significant margin, don't tell that to Trump and his giddy supporters, especially the 81% or so of evangelical Christians who voted for a trice married, serial adulterer, sexual predator who also happens to be a pathological liar.  If there is any silver lining to be found in the dire situation America now finds itself, it may be that the hideousness of fundamentalist Christianity has been laid bare for the world to see.  In its own way, it is just as toxic and poisonous as fundamentalist Islam, and Donald Trump seems only too happy in helping construct a Christian version of Sharia law here in America.  A column in the Washington Post looks at what a "Christian" - or a least one that voted for Trump - now means.  Here are column excerpts:
“What is a Christian?” grows out of an article this week by The Post’s Julie Zauzmer, which described jubilation among some Christians over Donald Trump’s victory — a win supported by more than 80 percent of white evangelicals.
“It really makes you feel great to be a Christian,” one person told The Post. “I think Christians took a big stand this time and said we’re going to stand up for our faith,” said a second. Referring to Trump, a third said, “I feel like we actually have an advocate now in the White House.”
Those attitudes are reflected in a Pew Research Center analysis of exit poll results, which show that high numbers of white, born-again evangelical Christians, as well as a majority of Catholics, went for Trump.
That notwithstanding, CNN exit polls also showed that 59 percent of nonwhite evangelical Protestants, 45 percent of Catholics and 71 percent of Jewish voters backed Hillary Clinton.
Their embrace of Trump isn’t, however, what prompts the “What is a Christian?” question.
It is raised because of A Declaration by American Evangelicals Concerning Donald Trump,” a statement posted on that has been signed by more than 22,000 evangelical leaders and their supporters. . . . Trump, they declare, “fueled white American nationalism with xenophobic appeals and religious intolerance at the expense of gospel values [and] democratic principles.”
They charge him with mocking women and the sanctity of marriage vows, disregarding facts, worshiping “wealth and shameful materialism,” and taking an already-weakened “culture of civility to nearly unprecedented” depths with his vulgarity and ugly personal attacks.
Hence the conundrum: A racially diverse community of evangelical Christian denominations and their supporters puts down Trump, beloved by a majority of white evangelical Christians, as “morally unacceptable.”  What is a Christian? What does it mean to be one?
[Martin Luther] King expressed disappointment at seeing white church leaders, in the midst of blatant racial and economic injustices, “stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities.”
King, . . .  saw segregation as morally wrong and sinful. Why didn’t his white co-religionists in the South see segregation statutes the same way?
In truth, some of the white Christians who professed belief in the authority of the Scriptures and the “good news” of the gospel were the backbone of racial segregation. They elected and reelected to public office some of the country’s most sexist, racist and religious bigots.
[L]ooking back at the election night outcome, a different, haunting question recurs: What is a Christian?
I have an answer that Christians of all stripes will not like.  On the one hand, the "Christians" who backed Trump are in truth bigots and racists of a modern day Pharisee mold that make the Pharisees of the Bible look upstanding and decent in comparison.  They make a mockery of the Gospel message and are defined by the hypocrisy and hatred of others, meaning anyone who isn't a white fundamentalist Christian.  On the other side, we see a group of timid, hand wringing folk who actually follow some of the Gospel message tenants but rarely do so outside of their churches and church halls which serve more as social clubs than messengers of what Christ allegedly preached.   They talk a good game, but shrink in fear in the face of hate and bigotry and act akin to the "good Germans" who stayed silent, sat on their hands, and allowed the rise of Hitler.  Neither form of "Christian" is a social positive.  Hopefully, more and more of the younger generations will recognize this reality and simply walk away from Christianity entirely.  The sooner Christianity is a dead religion in America, the better off the nation will be.

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