Trump is destroying conservative Christianity. Many conservative (“evangelical”) Christians are rejecting Jesus’ actual teachings (the Gospel) and have replaced Jesus’ message of love, compassion and social justice with Trump’s lies and public policies promoting egomania, hatred, greed, violence, and violations of human rights.
In the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament book of Exodus), Moses led people out of slavery in Egypt into the “Promised Land,” but along the way his people lost their faith and – after Moses returned from a mountain where he had received the Ten Commandments – he discovered that his people had built a golden calf and were worshiping that idol. Similarly, now many conservative Christians have abandoned authentic Christianity and are worshiping an “orange idol” in the form of Trump, who violates God’s commandments and is obsessed with making everything look gold.
The New Testament books of Matthew (4:1-11), Mark (1:12-13), and Luke (4:1-13) all tell the story that is known as “the temptations of Christ.” Early in Jesus’ ministry he fasted in the desert in order to develop his spiritual grounding. Satan appeared to Jesus then and tempted him by offering Jesus earthly power if he would worship Satan. Jesus rejected Satan’s temptation of earthly power and stayed true to his own mission of preaching love, compassion, social justice, and faithfulness to God.
In contrast to Jesus, in the 1970s and 1980s the Republican Party and the Religious Right did effectively merge in order to gain power. The Republican Party wanted a large political constituency of voters, and the Religious Right wanted a political vehicle for imposing their beliefs and biases upon the nation. Their merger has very seriously hurt the ethics of both the Republican Party and conservative Christianity – and it has hurt our nation overall. In 2016, 81% of white evangelical Christians voted for Trump.
Actually, the Religious Right does the OPPOSITE of what Jesus taught and practiced!
In many ways Trump and Republicans are NOT “pro-life.”
• Jesus healed sick people, but Trump and Republicans are hell-bent to take away millions of people’s health care, even though that would cause tens of thousands of people to die every year.
• Jesus fed hungry people, but Trump and Republicans cut funding for food programs.
• Jesus was a strong advocate for poor people, but Trump and Republicans keep cutting programs to cure poverty.
• Jesus welcomed strangers and immigrants, but Trump and Republicans oppress immigrants and wants us to hate and oppress them.
• Jesus broke down his society’s barriers of discrimination against the kinds of people who had low status, but Trump and Republicans discriminate against the female half of our population and people in many kinds of minority groups.
• Jesus repeatedly criticized greedy rich people, but Republicans are utterly subservient to greedy rich people and hurt the rest of us in order to give even more to the rich.
• Jesus denounced the religious hypocrites of his day because they tried to appear outwardly religious while failing to practice the ethics that their religion required. Jesus would denounce the religious hypocrites of our day too.
The Religious Right – and Trump – and the Republicans – are abusing religion, just like they abuse democracy and manipulate our emotions for their own selfish purposes. Within some other religions too, some people have let nationalism, sexism, and political power corrupt and displace their authentic faiths. In the U.S. this has happened especially among a large portion of our population who are white conservative Christians.
Jesus often distinguished his message of love, egalitarianism and social justice as the OPPOSITE of what mainstream society (the hierarchical power structure that he often called simply “the world”) does. While “the world” is cruel and oppressive, Jesus taught us to create a new society (which he called “the Kingdom of God” – the kind of world that God wants for us) that will be liberating, loving, egalitarian and humane.
In order to do that, we will have to “convert” people who are “true believers” in the currently dominant worldview (Trumpism, nationalism, racism, capitalism, egocentricity, greed, etc.) – and also liberate the people who have simply and unquestioningly gone along with those sins just because they are so dominant and mainstream in our society.
We need to devise strategies for building grassroots movements based on good values to change the dominant culture and heal people who have become trapped in mainstream culture and mainstream politics. (Both of the big political parties need healing.) We need to devise effective ways to communicate with people about values and worldviews. We need to use strategies and information that are biblically and theologically sound. We could show people how better, more authentic religious values should cause them to support the alternative worldview. (For example, in the end of Matthew 25 and in many other places Jesus commands people to take care of the poor and sick.)
I encourage people to sign up for my series of workshops titled, “Nonviolent Grassroots Organizing.” Contact me at (360) 491-9093 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Religious Right has indeed sold its soul to Trump: www.tinyurl.com/y2qqkhvf
Some mainstream Christian ministers and pastors are upset. My October 2019 TV program (“Being Christian in America in a Time of Crisis”) interviews three retired Christian pastors who use valid religious grounds for exposing the Religious Right’s distortions of the Gospel. You can watch the interview – and/or read the thorough summary I typed up (including additional information and links to further resources) at this part of my blog: http://parallaxperspectives.org/tv-being-christian-in-america-in-a-time-of-crisis
Here is more information:
Trump (and his Attorney General William Barr), Republicans, and the Religious Right are vigorously attacking the separation of Church and State, which the Constitution’s First Amendment had established. Their attacks on the separation of Church and State have continued in many ways. Since 1947 the excellent non-profit organization Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (www.au.org) has fought valiantly to protect politics and religion from hurting each other.
The right-wing politics practiced by the white evangelical political base causes horrible evils and violates authentic Christian values. Many of the “true believers” are absolutely devoted to Trump as their savior.
Trump and Republicans nationwide campaigned vigorously to get votes from the Religious Right and promised all sorts of payoffs in terms of national laws, regulations and policies that will serve the Religious Right’s political agenda for imposing their beliefs and biases upon the entire nation.
Trump created an Evangelical Advisory Board to tell him what they want, and he uses them as a tool to curry favor with this huge voting bloc. Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board is operating in utter secrecy instead of with full transparency as required by federal law (the Federal Advisory Committee Act – FACA – which was passed by Congress in 1972). Trump’s board is overwhelmingly dominated by right-wing fundamentalists who hold extreme positions on “culture war” issues. See much more information and documentation at the website of an excellent non-profit organization, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (www.au.org), specifically at http://bit.ly/AUtimeline and www.tinyurl.com/yx8q8ckv
Trump has appointed many, many right-wingers to powerful federal positions that are responsible for civil rights and human rights both within the U.S. and in global matters. Trump says he is promoting “religious liberty,” but really his appointees actually do the opposite. They use their powerful roles in the federal government to impose extreme right-wing “Christian” perversions upon our nation and the world, against women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and so forth. In the guise of “religious liberty,” they actually suppress religious values that differ from their own.
In May 2018 Trump issued a new “Religious Freedom” order that actually undermines that principle. The great non-profit organization “Americans United for the Separation of Church and State” (www.au.org) pointed out the hypocrisy of Trump and the Religious Right in a post on AU’s blog. Read the short, informative article at www.tinyurl.com/y3g7mm8r
One paragraph says: “Under the guise of religious freedom, this executive order further entrenches the Administration’s policies to allow religion to discriminate. At the same time, it strips the limited religious liberty protections that exist for individuals who use the government-funded social services.”
Actually, the Religious Right (especially after merging with the Republican Party) has abandoned honest spirituality and has removed itself from God. It has merged also with the dominant worldview of corrupt capitalism, worship of wealth (look at the multi-millionaire TV evangelists who flaunt their jewelry and lavish lifestyles!), sucking up to rich and powerful people instead of practicing the humility that Jesus taught, and lack of empathy for LGBTQ people and other people whom Republicans despise.
What would Jesus say about politicians who claim his endorsement but violate his ethics? What would Jesus say about people who claim that we are “a Christian nation” but violate Jesus’ ethics? What would Jesus say about presidents who make speeches declaring cruel wars and end them by saying, “God bless America”?
Jesus never said anything against abortion of LGBTQ people, but the Religious Right have made it seem that those were the core principles of Christianity. The Religious Right has merely wrapped bad theology around their own biases. Actually, Matthew 6:24 quotes Jesus saying, “You cannot serve both God and money.” I never hear the Religious Right quote any of Jesus’ many, many strong condemnations of greedy rich people. Why don’t they denounce greedy wealth, as Jesus did REPEATEDLY?
The Old Testament prophets and Jesus lambasted religious hypocrites who paid lip service to orthodoxy but failed to practice the deeper, more valid aspects of faith. In modern America the Religious Right is the opposite of what Jesus taught. They worship nationalism and capitalism and patriarchy and xenophobia and privilege instead of standing with Jesus in solidarity with the poor and the outcasts. The Religious Right has sold its soul to the dominant worldview and has no spiritual value. Jesus would lambaste those hypocrites.
Some Christians are blowing the whistle on Trump’s abuse of conservative Christians. One evangelical pastor blasted religious leaders who are violating Jesus and morality in order to support Trump and Republicans. See www.tinyurl.com/yceltvqm