Sunday, October 13, 2019

Trump v. Jesus: Christians Can’t Follow Both

As regular readers know, I have a problem with many Christians.  First there are the toxic white evangelicals who have embraced Donald Trump and his racist, divisive policies, including policies that harm the poor, the sick, the elderly and advance religious based bigotry.  Then there are the "good Christians" who try to follow the New Testament teachings of Christ - as opposed to the Old Testament so loved by white evangelicals who cherry pick brief passages as a means to condemn others - and do not seek to harm others.  My complaint with these Christians?  Their silence and failure to loudly and openly condemn (i) Trump and the GOP policies that are the antithesis to the Gospel message, and (ii) the white evangelicals who are killing the Christian brand and fueling the flight of the younger generations from religion entirely.  One exception to this damning silence Rev. Jim Wallis and 90 other religious leaders who have joined in a statement in support of the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry.   The point these religious leaders make is simple: support of Trump and following the Gospel message are mutually exclusive.  Read the statement here. Here are highlights from a piece that looks at this position. 
Many Christians pluck a line from the Bible and pretend it is the entirety of Scripture, using the command as a club against anyone who makes them uncomfortable. Their religion is a green light from God Almighty to harass gays, plague women, and of course support Donald Trump, the living embodiment of their faith.
“I love him so much I can hardly explain it,” said right-wing pastor and Trump adviser James Robison.   Many echo Robison; 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump.
But there are also Christians like Rev. Jim Wallis.  “There is a conflict between the politics of Jesus and the politics of Trump,” said Wallis. “Racial bigotry is a deal breaker for the Gospel. White nationalism, which Donald Trump embraces and champions, isn’t just racist — it’s anti-Christ. Dehumanizing immigrants isn’t just racist — it’s anti-Christ. Demeaning women isn’t just sexist — it’s anti-Christ. At some point, Christians have to ask themselves: Are the teachings of Christ going to be followed or not?”
Nor is Wallis alone: 90 Christian leaders joined him signing a call for this Sunday, Oct. 13, to be a National Day of Prayer “for the truth to be revealed through the impeachment inquiry.”
“For the sake of our nation’s integrity and the most vulnerable in our society, we call on fellow Christians to support the current impeachment inquiry,” read the statement. “Now is the time to shine the light of truth.”
“Trump appeals to our worst demons,” he said. “There really is a worst of America, and he is a marketer for it. He’s deliberately dividing our country.”
Wallis believes much of the powerful evangelical movement isn’t based on religion, but on politics. “In 1980 there was a political effort by Republican operatives, who approached Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and said, ‘Give us a list of your followers and we’ll create a new right wing movement and make you household names.’ It’s a political mobilization. Not theological. Not religious.”
But the faith that can be corrupted to serve Trump can also, Wallis believes, light the path away from him.
“There’s is a religious right that wraps political ideology around faith to polarize the country and, I think, silence and sabotage Jesus,” said Wallis. “He’s been hijacked. I want to try to reclaim Jesus and what He said. Those who turn to the politics of Jesus will defect from the politics of Trump,”
Any indication that those who have sold their souls to Trump are now willing to renege on the deal?
“A lot of white evangelicals are breaking from their parents over climate change, over LGBTQ issues,” Wallis said. “There are a growing number of white evangelical suburban Republican women who are shifting, [saying] ‘We care about life in the womb, but we also care about life on the southern border, about kids being ripped away from their parents.’”
“Jesus says, ‘I was a stranger. How you treat the stranger is how you treat me. How you treat the sick is how you treat me. How you treat the poor is how you treat me,’” Wallis said. “These are the most important people to Jesus and the least important to this administration.
“If you are followers of Jesus, you can’t ignore what Jesus said,” said Wallis. “So much of what Donald Trump says and does and makes policy is literally antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. No one can deny that. So how can you support him when he is contrary to everything Jesus said and did?”

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