By Dr. Mark Bear | 15 May 2019
I often receive personal messages from folks telling me how I am ruining evangelicalism when calling to account those in leadership positions in our faith.
So, please allow me to clarify:
Mike Pence, Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell Jr., Robert Jeffress, Pat Robertson, Jim Bakker, and, all the other evangelical pastors who remain silent as Trump tramples on our democratic ideals, or those who go so far as to argue how Trump was “sent to us by God, understand you aren’t persecuted for being Christians; you are however mocked for claiming to be Christians while your actions and words are nothing like those of Jesus. In a nutshell, you are hypocritical in your embrace of Trump.
Perhaps you do not believe it my right to call you to account, and those of you complaining to me via personal message might wish to understand precisely what is at stake here. When the leaders of White Evangelicalism place politics over our faith, the very people we are supposed to be setting an example for look at us only to walk away with laughter. Furthermore, these same people will never darken the doors of any church due to this blatant hypocrisy. As a person who has served in ministry I find this deeply disturbing.
As a pastor I always made clear that my role was not that of management, but of sales. These church leaders have flipped the script, being concerned with the management of others, always, while providing an excuse for their own inherent flaws. Always. 100 percent of the time these days.
Despite the disconnect, these leaders supposedly have moral convictions which are supposedly grounded in theological beliefs that they hold with absolute conviction. That, in turn, has led them to take a ‘no compromise’ stand on moral issues fearing as they do, that compromise is simply a tool of liberals to convince the public to embrace moral relativism as a way of life.
Yet, it is the leaders themselves embracing moral relativism. When a person who is not even part of the faith community decides to take a specific course of action, these leaders and their respective congregants are quick to point to the moral failure of the individual. But when they engage in the exact same behavior, the cry is “but he is saved and one of God’s chosen.” Really? Poppycock.
And what about Trump? Currently, nearly 1500 children have been separated from their parents and lost due to Trump’s immigration policy. We also have kids laying in cages at border towns and yet not one single word but accolades come from those religious leaders. So much for the party of values, huh? What about his prolific lies? Or, his mocking of a disabled reporter? Or, his taunting a gold-star family? Or, his mocking the late Senator John McCain?
What about party leaders who claim to be of faith and have done everything they can to be complicit in the lawlessness of this man? Saturday Night Live ran a Cold Open which captures this blind fealty best, this past Saturday.
To their credit, evangelical leaders told the rest of the world specifically what they were after and what they had planned to do. They would “change America by taking over city councils, school boards, state houses, and eventually the United States Congress. Having achieved their goal, we now have evangelical politicians trying with all of their political might to enact evangelical morality into law.
However, what these folks have run into is an American electorate that is as skeptical of evangelicals as it is politicians and therefore these leaders have failed to indoctrinate more Americans into their way of thinking. In fact, as The Daily Beast reports:
“Although the retreat from traditional forms of Christianity has long been apparent in western European countries, the pattern of a declining attachment to religion in the young is unprecedented in American history.”
Blame Evangelicals for the Decline in Christian Faith
When you cite the bible as justification for ripping children away from their families or for your hatred of LGBTQ Americans, you can bet that your rhetoric is going to drive people away from religion.https://t.co/fAXnAymuC6
— Andrew L. Seidel (@AndrewLSeidel) June 20, 2018
Instead of allowing the very God we say we have so much faith in to take care of matters, these leaders have been bearing down even harder finding ways to circumvent what most Americans not only believe but deserve: A society where people can worship should they so choose, or not to believe, all while allowing the all mighty and powerful God to take care of the rest. A society where one’s religious belief is their own business and ought not be forced upon those who do not believe.
It is a pity and pathetic that this is how weak the evangelical faith has become and is, so much so that we do not even trust the all powerful, all knowing, ever present God we tell the world we believe in or characterize in with these attributes. It is well past time to connect the dots between evangelicals as a republican constituency and the breakdown of our political process.
As Barry Goldwater, Senator from Arizona and presidential candidate in 1964 said:
“Mark my word, if, and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But THESE Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”
And Republicans want us to believe that Muslims are the greatest problem? No! We are.
Donald Trump: We will cherish, defend our Christian heritage
Televangelists: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
Chris Hedges: “AMERICAN FASCISTS” The Christian Right vs USA
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