Why Evangelicals Love Mr. Trump

In spite of all of the bad news – morally, economically, and politically – which has come out about Donald Trump from the moment he announced his intention to run for the presidency, nothing has been bad enough for his “base,” – which includes a wide swath of white evangelicals- to desert him. Continue reading “Why Evangelicals Love Mr. Trump”

Searching For My Country

images-15            I don’t know this country anymore.

It used to be that I felt safe here. I felt like this country had a government which at least had the tools for us, the people, to work for justice. I used to think that the three branches of government were the safeguard that whatever had happened in other countries, shifting them from being democracies to being autocratic dictatorships.

I used to think that Americans really did cherish all of the “rights” guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, and I believed that Americans would fight for their country, no matter what.

I used to think that evangelical Christians had integrity. No, I didn’t agree with them, but I believed that they had integrity.  I believed that they had a moral foundation that could not be shaken.

But then came the 2016 presidential election. I have long considered politics to be distasteful; the political ads, the lengths that politicians go to in order to achieve power, always bothered me. But we got through political seasons, some more brutal than others, and we went on being Americans in a two-party system, a government which guaranteed that we would never have a dictator and a constitution which allowed us who had issues with the government and its policies, to protest, safely.

But the corruption in the 2016 went beyond the pale. The rhetoric, the lying, the name-calling, the overt racism and sexism – all of it – was troubling. I kept going back to my “safe place,” i.e. we had a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.” We had Christians who believed in the Christ, who called us to love and to serve each other.

Those reassurances made me believe that when things got too raunchy in the campaign, that those who loved democracy and those who loved God would rise up. They wouldn’t let their country be embarrassed and they wouldn’t let their God be minimized.  My confidence was blown away, bit by bit, as the candidate-now-president violated every principle of government and religion I had come to appreciate. My confidence was shattered even more, however, by the huge amount of public support he had.

Who were these people? What was/is this country, really? 

I thought Americans were patriotic, but I learned that my conception about patriotism was different than many of the followers of the GOP frontrunner, who put down Sen. John McCain, a man who fought for this country and became a prisoner of war. I thought “the American people” would rise up in indignation and rabid anger that anyone could say such a thing about a war hero.

But what the candidate said did not matter. It didn’t matter that he lied. It didn’t matter that he called names, or that he put down and insulted women in the most crass of ways. It didn’t matter that people heard those Access Hollywood tapes where he talked about what he liked to do to women. It was disgusting and I thought Evangelicals would rise up – against him – but they did not. They looked the other way. They still supported this man who said that he didn’t regret that he has never asked God for forgiveness for his sins. (http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-on-god-i-dont-like-to-have-to-ask-for-forgiveness-2016-1)

Because of the rhetoric of this president, we are on the brink of a nuclear war with North Korea. We have a president who seems to go out of his way to be nice to dictators and authoritarian leaders, like Duterte of the Philippines and of course, Vladimir Putin. The supporters of this president do not care! When I was growing up, “the Russians” were to be loathed. People called them “commies” and worse, but today, it’s all different. The president’s supporters don’t care about the Russians. They do not care if the Russians were engaged in a cyber attack against the United States.

His venomous character is spreading. Now we have a lawmaker, Roy Moore, who is running for senator in the state of Alabama, and it happened that a woman came forward to accuse him of improper sexual behavior toward her years ago, when she was 14. While I can understand the a politician thinking the timing of the publicizing of the accusations is meant to destroy one’s chances for being elected, what I cannot understand is people saying that it doesn’t matter if Moore is guilty or not. The statement that they would rather vote for him – who may have sexually assaulted a then-child – than vote for a Democrat made my heart sink.

They could choose not to vote at all, rather than vote for a Democrat.

Meanwhile, some Republicans are demanding that Robert Mueller, who is investigating what happened in the 2016 campaign, be fired. I am stunned.

There is no desire for truth or justice – or real democracy.

I don’t know this country. I don’t know these “American people” seem to have no moral compass. They do not care about truth or lies; they do not care about women or children or Muslims, or immigrants. They do not care about the things I thought American Christians cared about.

I am searching for my country but I am having a hard time finding it.

 

 

Two Gods, at Least

With the coming out this week of the Nashville Statement, my firm belief that we live in a polytheistic society was buttressed.

The God that I learned about in the Bible was a God who loved everyone. My mother and my Sunday School teachers drummed it into me that God is love, that God sent his son, Jesus the Christ, to spread that message and to exhibit the behavior that said “everybody counts, everybody matters.”

The stories of Jesus hanging out with the marginalized were riveting. There he was, talking, sharing and eating with those who society ignored. There he was, touching the “dirty” and the sick, embracing everyone who dared come near him, because it was the way to live life. It was what God wanted.

The God of the Hebrew scriptures deplored the Empire and its determination to turn people away from the One God to the gods they deemed fit and mandatory to honor. I learned, with fascination, that there is honor and power in worshipping the One God, even if it meant being thrown into a fiery furnace or a lion’s den. I learned that the One God would always “be there,” no matter how bad or prolonged our suffering because of life’s challenges or the evil intent of the government.

I learned in the Gospels that God the Father/Mother had a special place for “the least of these;” I resonated with the 25th chapter of Matthew where the stories appeared that said that inasmuch as any of us feed, clothe, give water to and visit those who have been cast away, we do it to God. Those who had ignored them had, in effect, ignored God, too.

God, it seemed, didn’t give a hoot about who was “different,” according to society. God loved all because God was the “father” (parent) of us all. God didn’t discriminate against women and poor people and people with leprosy or those who had developmental disabilities. God held all of us, just like a mother and father love a child of theirs who has been born with a cleft lip or palate or some other devastating condition.

That God didn’t care about any of that; all were important; all mattered, including same gender-loving people.

This obsession with sexuality on the part of people who say they love God, is troubling. It is an obsession which has led “God-loving people” to do heinously hateful things to and against people who love the God I just described. It has caused them to put same gender-loving people out of churches; has forced them to remain quiet about who they are as they have listened to sermons putting them down and convincing them they are going to hell.  Religious people, many of whom are “evangelical” and “Conservative,” have been rather like an abusive spouse, beating and bullying people because they could, using God as their justification. “The least of these,” including same gender-loving people, yes, but also black and brown people, women, people with disabilities and illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, have been beaten down, over and over, by these religious imposters who throw their weight around in a bag full of hurtful and sanctimonious theology which is counter to the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Bible.

These “evangelicals” who wrote, signed and distributed the Nashville Statement must be like an offering which is putrid to the very nostrils of God. More than once, an angry God in the Hebrew scriptures has denounced the “offerings” of the so-called “holy” and religious. He has said that their worship is an abomination to Him/Her. The spirit of evangelical self-righteousness has been around from the beginning of time. Their god and what their god leads them to do  (little “g” intentional) has never been acceptable or pleasing to the One God. I am purposely not lifting any scriptures at this point, because the evangelicals of this ilk love to get into theological debate about them, to prove and bolster their position. Nobody has time for that kind of banter, not now.

In spite of our claiming to be monotheistic in our beliefs, we need to just “fess up” and say we worship two different gods, that Christianity is not characterized by a uniform belief system, but has splintered into a Christianity which believes in excluding people who do not “fit” human definitions of who is worthy to be loved by God and treated with dignity, and a Christianity which has remained stubbornly aligned with the principles taught by the God in the Hebrew Bible and his son, Jesus the Christ.

We have at least two gods in this country and in this world.

The evangelical god, he/she who allows and sanctions homophobia, racism, sexism and all forms of exclusion, is not my god. The evangelical god sees nothing wrong with denigrating the lives and spirits of people whom God created. My God finds that offensive. The evangelical god turns people away from the One God, and toward despair.

The God of Creation finds that despicable.

The Nashville Statement needs to be damned and rejected by all who believe in the One God. Silence is not an option because the God of Creation is a God of love and inclusion. To be silent is to reject the God who made us all.

That is not a good thing.

A candid observation …

 

(Rev. Dr. Susan K Smith is available for doing workshops on this topic, as well as for workshops on having crazy faith and preaching. Please contact her at revsuekim@sbcglobal.net)

Visit YouTube to see her talk on this subject with Bill Moyers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is the Church Failing?

I had a conversation this morning with a friend who is a Conservative and who takes issue whenever I talk about race, on any level; this morning she and I were talking about race and the church.

I mentioned that some 40 Catholic leaders had written a letter asking Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to back off using racial stereotypes as they talk about poverty, and I said that the church has too long been silent, not holding politicians to a moral and ethical standard, even during political campaigns.

I said that the church has allowed racism to simmer, all in the name of Jesus, for far too long.  And I’m not talking just churches in the South. “The Church,” north, south, east and west, Conservative and Liberal, has been culpable.

Well, my friend hit the roof.

It wasn’t so, she said.

I countered; the church, I said, has used the Bible to justify racism and slavery from the time this country got its feet firmly established in American soil.  She charged that that was my opinion …and on and on…

But after we talked, I thought about it. The Church really is and has been too silent when it has come to allowing politicians to do and say what they want, especially as it pertains to race. Hooray for the brave Catholics who wrote the letter asking Gingrich and Santorum to pull back on the heinous language they are using…but where are the other religious leaders, the so-called moral and ethical leaders of this great nation?

Someone said that Gingrich stood to lose the Evangelical vote as details of his first marriage were revealed by his ex-wife. Surely that would have been the case, or should be the case, if the Evangelicals were as bound to Godly morals as they claim, but alas, the Evangelicals, the trumpeters of morality and family values, have been silent…Why? Because the Evangelicals want Barack Obama out of office, so it doesn’t matter, Newt’s marital, or apparent marital, indiscretions.

The Church, the established Church, has been failing in so many ways – saying one thing but doing another. The Church has been responsible for leading too many people away from the Christ instead of toward Him. The Church seems to have a very selective range of issues on which to comment and be vocal about – but racism isn’t one of them!

It’s too bad. One of the reasons racism has flourished in this country for as long as it has is because the Church has failed; it has been silent when it should have been clanging the cymbals proclaiming injustice and vowing to fight it!

Newt Gingrich will probably win the South Carolina primary, because he pandered to a group of people in that state who are still raw with racial resentment. Nobody quite cares about anything else other than their belief that a great wrong was done when America elected an African-American to be president and that it is their civic duty to get him out of the White House.

Church leaders have been largely silent on Newt’s (and Rick Santorum’s) racially coded language. It is not surprising, but it is disappointing.

A candid observation…