Just one simple question out of curiosity: Do You Support or Oppose the Right of Players to Kneel During the National Anthem? Please take just a minute to vote, and thank you! Also, of course, your comments are welcomed and appreciated!
Can we expect an unprincipled man to lead with wholesome values? Can we expect an immoral leader to lead with virtue? Can we expect an arrogant and domineering man to lead in the humility of a servant? No, and yet the vast majority of evangelical Christians are doing just this, having sold their souls, and sullied their reputation, in following Donald Trump with a loyalty that would impress Napoleon Bonaparte.
Once upon a time, evangelicals were known for their adherence to Holy Scripture and Biblical standards of living. They were committed to “demonstrat[ing] that Jesus is real and that his salvation radically changes … lives through … faith, actions, service, relationships and community…”[i] And an integral part of this involved living a virtuous life, as well as promoting such virtues in the larger society.[ii]
Now, however, the larger part of the evangelical Christian culture in America has taken a fortress mentality, surrounding itself and the current President with unquestioning and practically unbelievable walls of defense, not only overlooking Trump’s obvious blemishes, but also somehow excusing his blatantly anti-Christian attitudes, perspectives and actions:
Trump’s unapologetic materialism—his equation of financial and social success with human achievement and worth—is a negation of Christian teaching. His tribalism and hatred for “the other” stand in direct opposition to Jesus’s radical ethic of neighbor love. Trump’s strength-worship and contempt for “losers” smack more of Nietzsche than of Christ.[iii]
And how any self-respecting American, much less an evangelical Christian, can do anything less than cringe at the innumerable kitschy tweets, caustic remarks, unbridled imprudence, and callous quips is beyond imagination. But “the moral convictions of many evangelical leaders have become a function of their partisan identification. This is not mere gullibility; it is utter corruption,” according to self-professing, evangelical Michael Gerson.[iv]
Then again, evangelical associations, groups and leaders have benefitted from Trump in very tangible ways. For example, the Donald J. Trump Foundation donated $10,000 to Iowa’s Family Leader (in 2013), $10,000 to Samaritan’s Purse (2013), and a whopping $100,000 to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (2013). On top of this, Trump drew the largest convocation audience in the history of Liberty University in 2012, and was referred to by Jerry Falwell Jr. as “one of the great visionaries of our time.”[v] And yet as Gerson points out:
Trump’s court evangelicals have become active participants in the moral deregulation of our political life. Never mind whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, and whatever is of good repute. Some evangelicals are busy erasing bright lines and destroying moral landmarks. In the process, they are associating evangelicalism with bigotry, selfishness and deception. They are playing a grubby political game for the highest of stakes: the reputation of their faith.[vi]
And this is a high-stakes game that the evangelical Christian community is already losing, as witnessed by the continuing, mass exodus of professing Christians from traditional, evangelical churches.[vii] There is an undeniable hemorrhaging that can only be stopped by evangelicals actually being what they profess to be, and genuinely living the way they say they believe Christians ought to live … and this decidedly does not include playing the rump of Trump.
[i] William Dyrness and Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Global Dictionary of Theology, 298
[ii] David J. Atkinson, David F. Field, Arthur Holmes, Oliver O’Donovan, New Dictionary of Christian Ethics & Pastoral Theology, 881
[iii] Michael Gerson, “The Last Temptation: How Evangelicals, Once Culturally Confident, Became an Anxious Minority Seeking Political Protection From the Least Traditionally Religious President in Living Memory,” The Atlantic, April 2018 Issue as published at https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/04/the-last-temptation/554066/
[v] Betsy Woodruff, “Why Evangelicals Worship Trump,” The Daily Beast, August 2015 as published at https://www.thedailybeast.com/why-evangelicals-worship-trump
[vi] Michael Gerson, “The Trump Evangelicals Have Lost Their Gag Reflex,” The Washington Post, January 22, 2018, as published at https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-trump-evangelicals-have-lost-their-gag-reflex/2018/01/22/761d1174-ffa8-11e7-bb03-722769454f82_story.html?utm_term=.2c9d531bb063
[vii] Terry Heaton, “Evangelical Christianity’s Big Turn-Off,” Huffington Post, September 12, 2017, as published at https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/evangelical-christianitys-big-turn-off_us_59b2b0f3e4b0bef3378cdf91
From which side are you looking at the mountain?
Are you drinking water from a different fountain?
Because you and I do not quite see eye to eye,
But we both cry that we’re right (in our own sight)
And this causes quite a plight that might lead us
To fisticuffs if we persist in insisting on our way
Day after day, chiefly when there’s no diplomacy
As we boastfully continue raving to hopefully win
An argument not even worth the victory,
Which is contradictory to our deeply felt feelings,
Especially as we’re reeling from the latest punch!
Might it be possible for us to change perspective?
Just for one moment, irrespective of our feelings?
Might it be possible for us to see a different point
Of view in lieu of our own, to see the other side
Of the mountain? To drink of the other fountain?
Then we might find out it was all a matter of . . .
Peace took the license
To put an end to violence
Can you hear silence?
And the dove flies free
For the entire world to see
What was meant to be
Guns have been laid down
Missiles and rockets will drown
Love will wear the crown
If hatred is all that unifies you, then you will always have to hate to be unified;
Is this the kind of unity you desire? Unity completely devoid of love and peace?
And what happens when the object of your hatred changes or simply vanishes?
If hatred is all that’s unified you, you’ll have to find something else to hate,
Or what is worse, someone else to hate with no room left for true compassion,
No room for understanding, for bridge-building, for reasonable compromise . . .
Is this kind of unity an healthy unity? Unity centered upon feelings of hostility?
Days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years upon years,
And now my life is filled with too many decades of time with too few left to me
To live in hatred and animosity, fear, paranoia, enmity, rancor and bitterness;
And this man is too old and tired to spend his precious time with those who do!
Even my ears grow weary of hearing the poison spewing out from such people!
Light, life ‘n love stand above all and are more than enough to take all my time,
So too there is truth ~ yes ~ but my choice is to stand upon truth in true peace.
Some say that democracy is the best form of government,
And perhaps this form of governance should be the norm;
However, it can breed a storm from dorms to living rooms,
From kitchens to legislative halls that fall to self-interest;
And what happens, then, when government is truly an icon
Of the people governed, and becomes of cupboard of idiots?
When entertainers are pundits and tweets become so sweet
That they make daily news and kindle views from officials?
When pictures that should be trashed are brashly shown
In public buildings as art by the self-designated oh-so smart?
When unimportant issues call for tissue to wipe crying eyes?
When the rest of the world calls for the best, but the best
Are given a vest in lieu of the grave and are called to invest
In the circus as government becomes more like giant Argus?
What happens, I ask, when democracy becomes an idiocracy?
I say the Revolution is long over, and God Save the Queen!
Or . . .
Tweedledee or Tweedledum?
Does it matter? Pass the rum!
We’ve now made our choice
And the world hears our voice;
Either way we knew the next
Four years will bring us tears;
But really, who do we have to blame?
Shame on US for playing such a game!
All our elected leaders only feed off
Of ‘we the people,’ who really need
To better tend our country and mend
So many of our troubles ourselves
Rather than living in our bubbles!
But here we are now and we bow. . .
Tweedledee or Tweedledum?
Does it matter? Pass the rum!