Heavy decisions often come with a heavy heart. My personal life was one framed around secrecy of my spiritual beliefs. I was raised in a Christian home. My father a minister from the Assemblies of God churches. If you’re not familiar, it’s a charismatic Christian church system (evangelical.)
I could write for ages about my experiences, instead, I’d rather focus on a theme in the church system that has come to fruition these past few days.
The Political Agenda of Christianity
My life experience in the evangelical churches taught me that church system was based upon politics. The pulpit of many churches (though not my father’s) would direct the congregants on how they should vote (and this was always a conservative choice.)
My father pastored a church when I was a child (Church of the Crossroads) and his views were different. He was focused on spiritual matters and didn’t dig into politics within the church. My dad always strived to find equanimity within his churches, which meant that politics couldn’t be embraced.
When my father retired from pastoring churches, he shifted into the role of church congregant. In this role we attended many Assemblies of God churches over the years. By the time I was a teenager, the political nature of Evangelical Christianity became very clear. During election years many pastors would openly decree that the Republican party was the only voting choice for a “true Christian.”
Family Values – a Political Christian Agenda
In the early 80’s Jerry Falwell worked to create a Christian Coalition that established a need for “Family Values” and raise up the “Moral Majority.”
While the organized system dissolved in the late 80’s the idea of continuing to push for “Family Values,” remains a core feature of the Christian paradigm.
For 30 odd years, I have heard the term “Family Values” passed down from the Religious Right to instruct adherents on how to vote. It’s always a vote to the Right and a dismissal of the Left.
I’ve listened to passionate parishioners march against gay marriage or abortion and stick to the theme of Christian values enacted through law.
Deviation From the Core Teachings of Jesus
Jesus was not a political figure. While some wanted Him to bring about freedom from Roman rule, He taught about the spiritual and not the physical worlds.
Jesus did give instructions for believers on how to live our lives:
- The physical world and its kingdoms are not the Kingdoms to fight for (John 18:36)
- Not to be afraid of those who could harm/kill the body (Matthew 10:27-28)
- Serve others with humility (Denying Ourselves) (Mark 8:34-38)
- Love the enemy and pray for those who use us (Matthew 5:38-48)
- Give to the needy (Matthew 25:35-46)
- Let the “stranger” in (Matthew 25:35-46)
- Not to judge others, but to work instead on ourselves (Matthew 7:1-3)
- Don’t use physical means to invoke spiritual goals (Mathew 26:51-53)
- Not to get caught up in government affairs (Luke 20:24-25)
While there are man other teachings, let’s take the ones above. These are not mooted by any other verses. In some cases (such as Matthew 25:35-46) the commands bring on the penalty of hell if they are not followed.
If one followed these ideals they would feed the hungry, let the stranger in, not judge others, work on improving themselves, not get caught up in politics, love their enemies, pray for those that use them, and they wouldn’t worry about the minority of individuals who might abuse them or kill them. They would operate solely from love.
Yet the Evangelical church dismissed these ideas for the most part, citing Paul in Ephesians that we are saved by grace and not by good works. (Ephesians 2:9)
The Early Christian Faith
Prior to Constantine’s Roman rule, the early Christian faith was a pacifist faith. So true to the teachings of Jesus were they that they were often punished to the arena in an effort to make them fight for their lives. Nero is perhaps the most notable Roman leader to punish Christians in this way.
The Christian religion was actually illegal to practice until the year 313AD. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Christian_policies_in_the_Roman_Empire#Nero
A year prior to the legalization of Christianity, came the conversion of Emperor Constantine. Constantine believed that he was given a sign to “conquer in Christ’s name” (or in the sign of the cross.) This transition marks the deviation of the pacifist church, into a church that was tied with the state government. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_pacifism
Fast Forward to Today
Without going into an entire history of the religion, let’s simply skip to this modern version of the faith. It comes packaged in many flavors (a few are listed below):
Each variation of Christianity comes with a change of vision. Some focus on miracles, some on saints and ritual, others on legalism and so on. In America, the Evangelical Christian (which can be an umbrella for Pentecostals, baptists and other forms of Protestant denominations) took root as a primary focus of Christianity. Through Evangelical television, their influence became very strong in the American households.
Famous Evangelical ministers such as Billy Graham, Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Baker became household names. People donated millions to their causes, sometimes this led to scandals.
As technology advanced upon the internet, the Evangelical Ministry has taken to social media. Through these mechanisms, a new political force has found its voice in the religion.
Donald Trump The ‘New Christian’ idol
He came with a powerful force that shook the political spheres. Most people thought he would vanish as quickly as he appeared – but his run for president was claimed as a win.
Donald Trump’s first controversial claim was in the aggression towards Illegal Immigration. Rather than propose a road to citizenship and border strengthening as many of his conservative predecessors had, Donald Trump simply wanted to build a wall along the border. A wall to symbolize his separation from the countries to the south.
He had strong words for Muslims as well. In various speeches he attacked the religion, sometimes mixing it with ISIS and bringing fear into the hearts of his supporters.
Throughout the campaign, Trump was a very strong voice of intolerance. He made statements and didn’t back down. He even was seen to parrot a disabled man, mocking him. He bragged once that he could shoot a man in the face and not loose a vote… and it appears he is all too correct.
The Christian community grabbed onto Donald Trump like he was their new savior. They ignored all the instructions of Jesus on how to love our enemies, care for strangers and love one another. They turned to fear and that lead to hatred of the “enemy.”
He even talked about breaking international law by willfully targeting the families of “terrorists,” saying they should be “taken out.” Instead of Christians looking away, they drew closer to him.
When scandal hit the Trump campaign (such as the leaked audio of Trump describing how he treats women he’s attracted to) it seemed to simply dissipate in the minds of his followers. For them, no wrong he did was worthy of invalidating him as presidential candidate.
“God Showed Up to the Polls and Elected Donald Trump”
Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham and Christian Evanglist, wrote after the election that God showed up to the voting polls and elected Donald Trump:
Read that with me… “they underestimated the God-Factor.” Franklin Graham has not only picked a political side with an agenda, he has simply picked the most extreme candidate available.
Trump, the man who reached into the angry hearts of hateful and scared Americans screaming about the illegal immigrant and their evils… the man who blamed all Muslims for terrorism… the man who said he would have the families of terrorists killed…
This man, who also was linked to many scandals of how he treated women… how he talked about their bodies (calling some “fat pigs” or talking about the “fake tits” on others) and how he wanted to “fuck” some and that they never stop him from kissing them… how they simply will do whatever he wants… this man who said he grabs women by the pussy…
This man, Franklin Graham is suggesting God choose to run this country to bring it to glory.
How, Franklin Graham, exactly do you gain good with the works of evil?
More to the point though, how did all those Family Values voters turn away to embrace all that they claimed they hated?
Trump Vs. Hillary or Trump vs 12+?
In my talks with various Christians on their choice, they have repeatedly told me that they couldn’t vote for Hillary. But you must understand, this was never Trump vs. Hillary…
This was Trump vs. Rubio vs. Cruz vs. Carson vs. Bush vs. Friona vs. Huckabee 10+ other candidates. Never in my lifetime has the Republican party run so many candidates! This fact is very important. Without this many candidates the religious right could have claimed they had their hands tied… but they simply had a dozen or more choices to choose from and they choose to run the most intolerant, Anti- Christian character among them.
The Political Agenda of Christianity
While Jesus was not a political persona… even instructing Pilot that His kingdom was not of earth… if it was He would call His powers to defend Him… but rather His Kingdom was of the spiritual realm – the modern practice of Christianity has become a political front.
Franklin Graham, Jery Falwell Jr. and many other Christian leaders have been stripped bare and exposed as the hypocrites they are.
If Christianity was about the teachings of Christ, why are these leaders demanding war with other nations? Why are they demanding we boot people from our borders, or raise walls? Why are these Christian leaders holding onto an idol of greed and wanton desire?
The answer dear ones is that this type of Christianity is not about Jesus… It is about garnering your votes to elect a conservative agenda. It is intolerant of others, it is cruel, it uses anger and hate. It is violent and at nearly all times illogical to its own principals.
How to Relate to Hypocrisy
We will all become enraged at seeing the hypocrisy… but our resolution must be to remind ourselves that each person (Trump included) has the Divine source. We must forgive them, as Christ instructs… love them and pray for them.
They will harm many, I’m sure. The likes of Franklin Graham will continue spread a false teaching, but we must pray for each of them… I myself have called Franklin a hypocrite… I have gotten enraged at his idolatry and his cruelty… but stooping to the level of anger, will only burden ourselves.
Unburden ourselves, but loving them.