Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Christians and the Trump

Christians come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. They belong to many denominations or sometimes none at all. They can be found in every country of the world. They belong to different political parties or no party. Some are rich, but the majority are poor. And very few are famous.

The Trump comes in only one size, shape, and color. He lives in the United States at the most prestigious address in the country. He belongs to a political party (although some contend that he is his own party). He is rich. And he was famous even before he became president.

What are Christians to make of Trump? This question is absurd in a way since there are maybe as many opinions about the American president as there are Christians in large parts of the world. Moreover, although it may hurt Trump's ego, there are still many Christians all over the globe who have never heard his name. There are also many Christians who never want to hear his name again, except for his resignation or departure from office in some other way.

My previous post was entitled, "Dump Trump!" That represents my own personal view. Other Christians may agree with me, but some Christians will not. That is why I could not call this post. "The Christian and Trump." There are many Christians, not just one.

Thus there is no thing as the Christian. Their diversity precludes such a title. Even Jesus cannot be called the Christian. He is the Christ. but he is not a Christian. As I repeatedly tell a Jewish friend who worships in church with me but  had promised his mother to remain a Jew, "Christ was born a Jew, lived as a Jew, and died as a Jew."

This is not the Jesus we learned about in Sunday School

Christ never became a Christian, since that name refers to someone who follows Christ. For Christ that is a logical impossibility. Thus he cannot be the Christian or even a Christian.

We should not ask Christ what he thinks of Trump, although we may be able to surmise his opinion. Christ is God. God alone can make the final judgment about any human being. This includes Trump.

His followers, however, those who bear his name,  do make judgments about Trump, just as I did in my previous post where I wrote that Trump must go. The sooner the better. But he must leave through Constitutional means. And his leaving must not lead to civil war.

That is my opinion as a Christian. Nearly all American Christians have opinions about Trump. They have made up their own minds about him. Many Americans (as well as people all over the globe) condemn him. But others continue to support him in spite of what he says and does.

Polls reveal that 81% of white evangelical Christians voted for Trump in the last election and many will continue to vote for him.  Similarly, 60% of white Catholics voted for him. It has been observed by many that white Christians awarded the White House to Trump.

The term "evangelical" is hard to define. Today it has acquired even more negative connotations because of the association with Trump. Many who identified themselves as evangelical in the past prefer not to do so now. I admit that I find it increasingly difficult to identify myself as such today.

Christian leaders responded in different ways to Trump after Charlottesville. Leaders from mainline churches condemned Trump's but very few evangelical leaders did. The few who did condemn hatred and violence were for the most part silent about white supremacy and racism.

Evangelical leaders did not mention Trump by name. Their silence and refusal to name Trump are part of my motivation for distancing myself from these evangelicals. They give evangelicalism a bad name. That is also what motivated me to publish my previous post.

It is not too late to ask all Christian leaders, whether Catholic, mainline, or evangelical, to speak out and universally criticize Trump for his racism and his reluctance to condemn white supremacy. The people sitting in the pews largely echo their leaders. No wonder the deafening silence.

Churches everywhere must pray, of course, for those who are the victims of racism and white supremacy, but that is not enough. Racism and white supremacy must be soundly condemned. In addition, they must reject a president who openly displays such racism.

Racism runs so deep in the American soul that it is almost impossible to eradicate. But that does not mean that Christians must not attempt to do so. As followers of Christ, they are commanded to love everyone, just as God does. There is no room for hate. They must love even the Trump.

How can people listen to sermons every Sunday in which they are reminded that God loves them unconditionally, and then spew hatred against those of another color or religion? In Charlottesville, Jews and Muslims were also made the targets of hatred?

Why the disconnect between what the message Christians hear on Sunday and their behavior outside of church? How can they support a president who is a racist and a sexist (and the list seems endless)? For me, the argument against him remaining as president is very simple: Trump is a racist (and lots of other evil things) and therefore he must be dumped. QED.

Do I hate Trump? No! But I do hate much of what he stands for and represents. I must respect the office he holds and I must and do pray for him, but I despise his policies and the way he treats people, including members of his own family.

Do I hate his supporters? No! Many of them are fellow believers and followers of Christ who have chosen to support a man whose behavior is unchristian. They may be Christians, just as I am, but that does mean that I have to agree with them.

Does this support make them racists? Not necessarily. They may support him for many other reasons: abortion or the supreme court or unemployment. Their support for Trump is often politically motivated and not necessarily theological, as they would like to make others believe.  What is so theological about the makeup of the supreme court?

I respect their right to support Trump even if I cannot agree with their choice. Similarly, I request that they would respect my right to advocate dumping Trump. Even when we sit in the same pew (especially then, I might add), we must respect each other's position on Trump.

Christians can and do differ on politics. They can and also do differ on theology. But they must never equate the two in such a way as to suggest that someone who is conservative in theology must also be conservative in politics and vice versa. There is no mutual entailment between politics and theology.

Christians come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. They also come in different political and theological guises. They differ greatly in every which way. In spite of the many differences, mutual respect must always be present. Above all, love must always prevail when they interact. (The same principle applies in relations with people of other faiths.) There is no room for hatred in the life of a Christian.

What I want to do post-Charlottesville is to continue to plead for the dumping of Trump. You may not agree with me. If so, please respect my right to advocate his dumping. There are numerous people, both Christians and those who are not, who agree with me even if you, for example, do not.

At the same time, I will continue to respect your right to support Trump. However, if I begin to feel that you are expressing racism and you seem to be motivated by hate, I reserve the right to criticize you for that. In turn, you may also criticize me for my political stance, but you must do it out of love.

Then, and only then can we together openly discuss Christians and the Trump.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Dump Trump!

The format of this post is different from my usual ones. This one has no illustrations on purpose. I will argue that Donald Trump has exposed himself (for what he really is), and thus I do not want to portray him naked (after all, he the president). I am not partisan in what I am writing about him. I am not American, but I am concerned about a country that I have grown to love and a people that are wonderful (much of the time). Unfortunately, they have elected a truly awful leader.  Americans deserve a better president. 

It is high time to dump Trump! He needs to go for the sake of his country (and the rest of the world). The sooner the better!

When one thought that nothing worse could happen in Trump's sad saga, along came Charlottesville. The murder of Heather Heyer was tragic, but the tragedy did not end there. President Trump has made the situation much, much worse, both by what he said and what he didn't say.

First, he blamed the violence that contributed to her murder came from "many sides." Right and left, in his opinion, were equally guilty. The next day, he moderated his remarks, on orders, it seems. But the day after that, he reverted to his previous message, muddying the waters once more.

In his now-infamous news conference, he attributed the violence equally to what he coined the "alt-left." He avoided condemning the white supremacists who had organized the rally in Charlottesville, but he blamed "both sides" for all the violence.

He did criticize neo-Nazism and racism as repugnant to Americans, but he left no doubt where his own views lay by what he left unsaid. Both what he said and what he omitted saying have made him repugnant to many of his fellow citizens as well as people all over the world.

While he is not a white supremacist (at least not yet), he has revealed how deep-seated his racism is. Add that to his misogyny and mendacity, as well as his many other shortcomings, and one must conclude that he is not the leader that America needs today. He must go!

America deserves better! Trump did not receive a plurality of votes in the last election but he did get a majority in the electoral college. Thus he is legally president, but he has failed thus far in being the president the country deserves and needs, especially today.

While American infrastructure is literally falling to pieces, Trump has failed to demonstrate true leadership. Instead, he has demonstrated that he is unfit for any public office, let alone the presidency.

He is not only incompetent but also morally bankrupt, and so self-centered that he is totally unqualified to remain as president. He must go!

Even some Republicans are now waking up and openly criticizing Trump, they are ready to ask him to leave. This message goes beyond partisanship. It is now an undeniable truth unless one refuses to see his racism, his Islamophobia, his misogyny, and the hatred that his supporters have demonstrated.

The CEOs of many major companies are already deserting him. They are no longer willing to remain on his manufacturers' councils because of what happened after Charlottesville.

Trump's revelations post-Charlottesville were the last straw for them. His failure as a businessman-turned-president is now so evident that an exodus has started. There soon may be more deserters.

His character flaws are plain for all -- except for the extremists among his base -- to see. Instead of uniting the country, he has divided it even further.

That these extremists have not turned against him is proof of the divisiveness he has promoted. White supremacists and other racists use race as a tool to divide nations. Thus they support him.

The task of a president is to unite, but that is not in Trump's character. In his worldview, there are only winners and losers. He is a winner, while everyone who disagrees with him is a loser.

Now it is high time for all  Americans to join those CEOs and politicians who have seen Trump's flaws and are willing to talk about them publically. Many now also want to see him go for reasons that are not necessarily partisan. Trump has been a failure as president. A total disaster!

Unfortunately, he will not change in the foreseeable future.

He is the real loser, and he must go. The only way that the nation will be united again is if he departs. The sooner the better, in fact, for the sake of the country. 

All Americans must put aside their partisanship for the moment and urge Trump to go. By impeachment if necessary, by resignation if possible.

The reasons should be obvious by now. After Charlotteville, the emperor's new clothes can be seen by everyone, except those who are blind. Trump now stands naked before the whole world. He has exposed himself. He has shamed the United States.

Now he must have the decency to go either by himself or by force. Dump Trump for the sake of the nation and indeed the whole world!

Do I expect him to go soon? No, not unless his base deserts him en mass, which is not likely to happen. 

Trump may well risk a civil war in order to stay in office. The risk of a civil war in the Trump era has been rated as anywhere between 30% and 95% by experts. No one wants that.

Many Republicans are hesitant to ask for Trump's resignation because that would be political suicide in today's climate. Only if his base deserts him will that be possible.

Yet go he must. But by Constitutional means only. Anything less will guarantee civil war.

Trump has already been rated the worst president ever in the history of the republic.  By any measurement, he comes at the bottom of the list.  How much longer can he last?

Trump may even resort to war with North Korea if he feels threatened by the ongoing probes into his Russian connections. That same fear makes him unwilling to submit his tax returns.

Democracy itself is under threat in the Trump era. Ronald Reagan expressed that threat aptly in his 1967 California Inaugural Address: 
Freedom is a fragile thing and it’s never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by way of inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. And those in world history, who have known freedom and then lost it, have never known it again.
Remember these words. Inscribe them wherever possible. Reflect on them often.

And then respond appropriately by dumping Trump!

Dump Trump!