To those who insist that America is – regardless of its cultural diversity – a “Christian Nation,” those core values must then logically be directly connected to Christ’s teachings.
In previous articles I have contrasted the fundamentals of those teachings with the sort of theological rationale we have heard from the self-appointed movers and shakers of right-wing Christian politics.
Jesus won’t go away on this one.
In the same sense that political leaders and parties do not have a monopoly on defining patriotism in this country, neither do the biggest mouths and loudest voices have a monopoly on what constitutes Christian thinking, doctrine and beliefs in America.
Clinical Psychologist Dr. Teresa Whitehurst …
You can’t argue a person out of his or her identity. As most of us have learned the hard way, you should never try to convince a Republican that he’s a Democrat, a pacifist that she’s pro-war, or a hard worker that he’s a lazy bum … ‘I can surrender my opinions if your argument is effective and I’m in a receptive mood, but I’ll fight to the death for my identity.’
This is what we must keep in mind about Trump supporters: they may seem indifferent to suffering and uninterested in the facts, but what really prevents them from hearing what we assert when we disagree with them is fear – the fear of losing their manufactured identity, not to mention the fear of having become part of a serious electoral mistake.
Everywhere they look, they seem to project a sense of fear-driven anger, almost mindless in its imagined reality. Once having chosen to be a Trumpist, there seems to be then a real fear of being challenged.
Why? Simply put, those who committed their votes put themselves at risk of straying from the Trumpist herd and thereby suffering rejection, even hatred, from others if challenged.
I would also propose that this unfortunate circumstance is not primarily the fault of Donald Trump. No, someone else is at fault for this circumstance where the rugged idealistic American – possessor of ethical and moral goodness – “has been transformed … to a fearful child who’s willing to apply peer pressure to silence critics (even those in his or her own family) in order to avoid personal and collective punishment” [Whitehurst].
Candidate Trump capitalized on that circumstance and therein lies the real fault – but not solely the fault of Trump.
That “someone else” includes all those who years ago decided that rendering unto Caesar and rendering unto God should become one and the same. Entry into the political process began with preaching at first. But then – with popularity exploding into the notoriety – coercion through fear, shame and guilt has put before us self-constructed images of righteous crusading knights slaying dragons of evil.
Now these Shameless High Priests insist that they speak for all of us. Many let them do it at the price of their own spiritual integrity. In this regard, personal religion has been dragged out from the personal to the public for all of us whether we like it or not. Attempt to discuss religion and the old adage about not talking about religion and politics is brought forth as a shield to protect the sheep who have voted to look the other way while Jesus has been co-opted as a political bumper sticker.
Christian Crusaders historically were never heroic, not so long as they fought military battles in the name of Christ, thrusting with spear and sword through the bodies of men, women and children – all the time pretending to themselves that they believed their religious leaders who insisted that God approved.
There is nothing heroic in these current times about hiding in congregations and voting as a block according to demagoguery where the pseudo-Christian generals out front make mountains out of moral molehills. That is not the courage of conviction, not the courage of Christ, not the courage of the martyrs killed by Roman persecution nor the courage of the victims of inquisitions.
It is the ignorant moral cowardice of the Salem witch trials, gay and minority-bashing by sons and daughters of American Christian parents who for too long failed to teach the gospel of peace because they themselves perhaps were not taught it.
It is the cowardly righteous indignation that behaves as if abortion, gay-rights, school prayer, and a “war” on Christmas are all more vital to the pursuit of goodness in humanity than any prayerful study of Sermons on Mounts, Good Samaritans, Prodigal Sons and “neither do I condemn you, go your way and sin no more.”
Fear and cowardice are not the same things except when fear leads to cowardice.
Which is the harder choice?
It’s tortuous work attempting a life of quiet desperation and the uneasy conscious-stricken restlessness of having to look the other way as one’s identity gets grouped among those responsible for war, murder and human destruction. Or having to actively, mentally and spiritually question the integrity of one’s identity in order to keep it sanctified?
You don’t have to be a theological scholar to understand the depth of moral shame and anti-Christ behavior to which many American Christians have given their assent. If you must leave a congregation that leaves you uneasy inside then leave it. There are still lilies in the field arrayed in all their glory. Christianity remains at its most powerful in the individual conscience-informed life …
and at it’s weakest and most harmful in the blind submissive behavior of massed Christian irrational anger.
There is a better way – the oldest Way.