In a recent interview, Duck Dynasty star Korie Robertson spoke out about Donald Trump’s destructive comments following the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia where Trump proclaimed that there were “very fine people” taking part in a neo-Nazis rally. Robertson, herself a Trump supporter, believed that Trump’s comments were antithetical to her religious beliefs and the teachings of Jesus Christ which promotes loving your neighbor, tolerance, kindness and goodness. Robertson said, “I don’t know how you could say there were good people marching with torches, shouting Nazis slogans and wearing Hitler t-shirts spewing all amounts of hate”.
Robertson is not the only one condemning Trump. Following Trump’s comments, condemnation came from all corners of the world with people from all ethnicities, religions and nationalities declaring with one voice that Trump’s inability to confront hate was inappropriate and unbecoming of a leader of the free world. Within days, business leaders participating in Trump’s jobs council announced that they would collectively leave the council in protest to Trump’s comments. Organizations across the country pulled their contracts with the Trump Organization and refused to continue business with the company. It truly seemed as though the entire country understood the harm in Trump’s comments and were demonstrating their moral outrage by distancing themselves from his hate filled commentary.
However, there was one group which apparently didn’t care much about the moral outrage sweeping the country. The so-called “Christian Conservatives” taking part in Trump’s Religious Advisory Council collectively refused to leave Trump’s side and citied scripture as their excuse for standing by Trump though this turmoil. Pastor Mark Burns declared that, “he was called by God to support and advise Trump”, Dr. Robert Jeffress, instead of taking the opportunity to condemn the sin while showing love for the sinner, decided it would be a better idea to say how honored he was to serve on the President’s council and proclaimed how much Trump has done to advance religious liberty in this country. The most shocking comment came from Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr. who took the time to praise the President and then added a comment about how “bold and truthful” of a statement Trump made about Charlottesville. Really?? A bold and truthful statement…which part? The part where Trump equated Nazis spewing hate with counter protesters standing against racism; or maybe the part where Trump said there were good people on both sides after a proclaimed Nazis committed a terrorist attack by ramming his vehicle into a crowd and killing a lady? Unfortunately, I don’t see the bold and truthful statement that Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr. saw, but that doesn’t really surprise me. In fact, the statement made by Falwell was reminiscent of the mentality of religious leaders throughout the South years ago who used old testament scriptures to defend slavery or segregation. These were the same types of people who would leave church services on Sunday morning and picnic while watching a lynching in the afternoon.
The sad reality of Christianity is that there have always been those who seek to use religion, not as a way of bringing people together, but as a tool for tearing people apart. There have also been those who use religion as a way of advancing their own agendas – be they personal, financial or political. In the case of Christian Conservatives, since the 1980’s, this group has used its influence to promote and defend the agenda of the Republican party. This is an agenda that embraces intolerance against the LGBTQQ and immigrant communities, advocates cuts in services for the poor and disenfranchised while giving tax breaks to the wealthy, promotes the idea that greed is somehow good for our country and encourages competition, and exploits divisions in our country in order to divide the electorate for political purposes. Each of these items are deplorable in their own unique way, however, what is most important is the fact that all of these items fly in the face of religious doctrine. How can one claim to be a Christian and yet support a party platform which runs counter to everything Christianity stands for? While I applaud Korie Robertson for condemning Donald Trump for his comments which were not representative of her religious beliefs, what I don’t understand is where the moral indignation was over Trump’s policies which do the same. As a Christian, we should defend all of the teachings of Jesus Christ and not just those that don’t impact our political ideology.
Earlier this year, during morning mass at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis delivered a revolutionary sermon which sent shockwaves throughout the religious community. The principles behind the sermon, however, encompass a religious philosophy which should be shared and espoused by all believers. While discussing Mark 9-42, a passage where Jesus warned about those who would cause believers to fall out of faith and suggested that those people would be better off being thrown into the sea – Pope Francis made a comparison to contemporary society and suggested that some so called Christians would be better off being atheists instead of living as hypocrites claiming to be of Christ, but not living lives which emulate the principles of Christ.
Pope Francis provided a few examples of what he was referring to by citing those who cheat in business or the owners of companies who stiff their employees with low wages while taking extravagate beach vacations. As I read excerpts of the sermon I immediately began to think of the millions of voters who each year support candidates and political parties who don’t exemplify the principles of love, charity and forgiveness – which are the core values of Christian philosophy. It was always perplexing to me how some people could proclaim to be a believer in the teachings of Christ, but on the other hand support public policy which seeks to limit assistance to the poor and disabled, cut aid to impoverished countries, and pollutes and destroys the earth endowed to us by God. For too many years Republican Christian voters have engaged in levels of hypocrisy which surpass anything I’ve ever seen. To see so-called religious leaders stand behind and defend the divisive comments of a man who constantly plays “fast and loose” with the truth is just a bridge too far for this particular Christian to stay quiet about. It’s time for believers to emulate the example of Pope Francis and speak truth to power in proclaiming that there are standards to calling yourself a Christian, and these standards are not negotiable!
Matthew 7:21 – Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my father who is in heaven.