Category Archives: religious news

Trump wants to fill church pews before virus is eradicated

This is a tough message to deliver, but I’ll do so anyway.

Donald Trump could be complicit in the deaths of potentially thousands of Americans if churches across the country open their doors for worshipers on Easter. Why? Because there is no way in the world that the worldwide coronavirus pandemic will be over by then.

And yet the president of the United States is calling on the United States to get back to its “normal” living and he has targeted Easter as the date when that should happen. That’s a “beautiful deadline,” Trump has said. He wants church sanctuaries to fill up with worshipers on Easter. Yep … go ahead and cram yourselves into those pews, sitting right next to someone who might carry the virus.

Ah, but here’s the good news: The president has virtually no actual power to mandate such a dangerous, reckless and thoughtless order. That power rests in the hands of governors, who have the authority to resist calls to allow churches and other houses of worship — as well as schools and assorted businesses — to reopen.

However, should a governor be foolish enough to follow the president’s lead, then they, too, would join Trump in his complicity in the deaths of possibly thousands of Americans.

Donald Trump is fixated on the nation’s economy. He needs to focus at least as much attention on the safety, health and well-being of those he swore an oath to protect against all enemies. Hasn’t he called the coronavirus an “invisible enemy”? Well, yes he has.

The president is neglecting the oath he took. I’d say he “should be ashamed,” except that this clown has no shame.

Trump still manages to fool those of faith

A cruel, egotistical, unChristlike man pretending to be a person of faith is not fooling me.

The above statement comes from a friend of mine who posted it on a social media outlet. I happen to agree wholeheartedly with him.

The “unChristlike man” is none other than Donald John Trump, who offends me at so many levels I cannot even begin to list them all. So I’ll examine just this one level briefly.

The president pretends to be a man of faith only because it suits his political ambition, which he discovered shortly before he announced his presidential candidacy in June 2015.

You remember the showy ride down the escalator at Trump Tower when he declared his intention to run for president and then in virtually the next breath declared that all immigrants from Mexico were “rapists, murderers and drug dealers,” and then added that “there are some fine people, too.”

The man who once courted Democratic pols became a shill for Republicans.

Meanwhile, the guy who said publicly he’s never sought forgiveness for any sin he’s ever committed has become a darling of the evangelical Christian movement.

For the ever-lovin’ life of me I cannot fathom how that has come to pass.

People of faith with whom I am familiar have scolded me for not being more forgiving of this guy. They say everyone deserves grace, that even Donald Trump deserves empathy.

Sure. I just keep asking: When has he ever demonstrated an ounce of empathy? When has he shown the ability to grant forgiveness to anyone else? When has this individual ever acted like the man of faith with a devotion to God that he professes to be?

My friend is right. The president of the United States is a cruel egotist. He shouldn’t fool anyone. Amazingly, though, he does.

POTUS drags politics into National Prayer Breakfast

I have been aghast at what I heard Donald John Trump say this morning at the National Prayer Breakfast.

The event is designed to be an ecumenical gathering of all faiths. From what I’ve seen of it in the past, it generally steers far and wide from politics. Then again, that was before the Era of Trump, who today dragged the Prayer Breakfast into uncharted territory.

“I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong.” The target of that jab was U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, the lone GOP senator to vote “guilty” on one of the impeachment counts leveled against Trump; indeed, Sen. Romney is the first senator in U.S. history to vote against a president of his own party in a Senate trial..

Romney is a devout Mormon, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee. He spoke of his faith while announcing his findings that Trump had, in Romney’s mind, abused the power of his office. Trump was having none of it, actually challenging the sincerity of a fellow American’s religious faith.

Despicable, indeed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also drew some heavy fire from the triumphant president, who said he doesn’t like someone “who says ‘I pray for you’ when they not that is not so.”

What’s more, Pelosi was sitting on the dais just a few feet away from Trump when he made the catty remark.

I should say as well that Pelosi has been known for decades as a dedicated and devout Roman Catholic. She has said that she prays for the president, for the country, for its government leadership. I guess Trump was having none of that as well.

Sickening.

What I suppose makes this even more disgraceful is that this president has virtually no relationship with Scripture. He uses religion as a political tool, a doctrine to be bartered.

So he has decided to politicize what historically has been a non-political event that aims to cite the value and power of prayer.

God help us.

Hearing the unspeakable … in church

(Andrew Sentipal/Dreamstime/TNS)

I could have lived an entire lifetime without hearing the words that opened our Sunday morning worship service in church today.

A wonderful gentleman who we have befriended at our Collin County church stood before us and implored those in our congregation who have a state of Texas-approved concealed handgun permit to bring their weapons with them to worship. 

To be brutally honest, the message from our friend hit me like a punch in the gut.

We are reeling in North Texas by the events of a week ago, when a gunman walked into the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, near Fort Worth, and opened fire. He killed two parishioners before a volunteer security guard at the church fired a single shot from his pistol and killed the gunman.

The guard is being hailed as a hero. Indeed, he did his job perfectly. It took all of six seconds to eliminate the threat by the shooter.

This is what we have come to in this country of ours. Men and women of faith are now fearing for their safety in houses of worship. In the name of God Almighty, what in the world is happening to us? Moreover, I am quite certain other church congregations all across the country heard something similar to what we heard this morning as we prepared for prayer.

Our friend acknowledged that he packs a pistol hidden away; he is licensed by the state. He said he attended a seminar sponsored by our police department that spoke to the danger posed by lunatics who venture into houses of worship to perform their evil acts.

He gave us a brief primer on what to do in the event gun violence erupts in our church. Our friend told us what he would do while standing guard at the door, as he does each Sunday.

I know I am stating the obvious, but we are living in dangerous times. I just never imagined hearing what came to us today. It illustrates the dire peril we all face … even as we go to church to pray.

God help us.

Evangelical movement showing signs of splintering

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

If the soon-to-be-former editor in chief of Christianity Today has accomplished anything with his scathing critique of Donald J. Trump, it is that he has revealed deep divisions within the evangelical movement and its love-loathe relationship with the president of the United States.

Mark Galli wrote an editorial condemning Trump, calling for his removal from office on the grounds that he is “profoundly immoral.” Galli, who is retiring soon from his post, calls the impeachment of Trump a deal-breaker, saying that the articles of impeachment suggest a president with no moral character.

Other evangelical leaders have rushed to Trump’s defense. One of them is Franklin Graham, the son of Christianity Today’s founder, the late Billy Graham. Others have joined in as well, condemning Galli for challenging Trump, who many say has done more for the issues friendly to evangelicals than any president in modern history.

The evangelical Christian movement, therefore, is having a serious debate within its ranks that, as I see it, mirrors what is occurring across the nation along more secular/political lines.

This is a healthy development within a key Trump constituency.

I credit Mark Galli for breaking this matter open, for exposing the divide for the rest of us to witness in real time.

And yes, there is a certain irony that this debate is occurring at this holy time, as Christians around the world celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth. It might be that was Galli’s intent all along, to publish the editorial, to provoke this discussion at this time of the year.

If that’s the case, then all I can add is this: well played, sir.

I want to share the editorial with you one more time. Take a look.

Merry Christmas.

Who would have thought it? Evangelical leaders rally behind Trump

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Donald J. Trump has just received a well-deserved roasting from Christianity Today, a mainstream magazine founded by the late, great Rev. Billy Graham.

The publication calls Trump “profoundly immoral” and declared its belief that he needs to be kicked out of office.

The reaction to the magazine’s blistering critique? What did current evangelical leaders say and do? They’re standing behind Trump. They aren’t criticizing the magazine’s assertions, per se. They just want their guy to remain in office so he can appoint conservative judges to the federal bench and push policies with which they are most comfortable.

There you have it. Politics and policy mean more to these folks than the behavior, the history and the proclivities of the individual who is their champion.

According to the New York Times: The response from his leading Christian supporters was laced with animosity that mimicked Mr. Trump’s signature style, and reflected the extent to which they have moved into lock step with him, even in rhetoric.

None of this is a big surprise. Christianity Today has become almost quaint in its mainstream view of Christianity. As the editor in chief, Mark Galli, has noted, evangelical Christianity is a “diverse” group that comprises faithful believers of all stripes and political persuasions. The politically active evangelical movement doesn’t seem to mirror that big-tent view.

Franklin Graham, son of the late Billy Graham, says his father would be “disappointed” in the publication he founded. I believe he would be even more disappointed in the highly partisan posture his son has assumed, given Billy Graham’s aversion to such overt political activity.

Still, the editorial is worth reading. It is worth studying. It is worth heeding. It’s a beaut.

Trump’s reaction to criticism reveals what many of us suspected

Donald Trump’s bizarre response to an editorial published in a mainstream evangelical publication appears to affirm what many of us have thought all along about the current president of the United States.

Which is that he doesn’t know a thing about the publication he is criticizing.

Christianity Today has come out with an essay calling for Trump’s removal from office. It was written by the magazine’s editor in chief, Mark Galli. It’s a brutal critique of Trump and the circumstances surrounding his impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives.

What did Trump do in response? He called it a “far left magazine.” He said the magazine founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham knows nothing about a “perfect transcript of a routine phone call.”

My point is that Christianity Today is not a “far left magazine.” It is a mainstream publication that appeals to the broad, diverse world of evangelical Christians. Galli has sought to make the point that the evangelical movement is not a monolith. It comprises a wide-ranging school of thought among Christians who adhere first and foremost to the tenets of Christianity, starting with their devotion to Jesus Christ.

Does anyone who knows anything at all about the president believe that he shares that view, that he has any understanding of the Bible, or the teachings that Jesus and his apostles offered the world? No!

Trump is, as the author Jonathan Alter described him this week, a “religious reprobate.”

So, for Trump to refer to Christianity Today as a “far left magazine” only reveals to many millions of us what we know already: that Donald John Trump is a pandering fraud.

Christianity Today: Trump has crossed moral line

My head is still spinning over the extraordinary condemnation of Donald Trump published by Christianity Today, a publication founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham and has become a leading voice for evangelical Christians who form arguably the president’s most reliable support bloc.

The editorial in the magazine takes Trump to task for across-the-board immoral behavior and asks his supporters how they can maintain their support of him while he continues to act with no moral compass.

It’s an extraordinary commentary. Editor-in-chief Mark Galli says that the impeachment inquiry was the deal-breaker for him and for his publication. He said the inquiry has revealed without question that Trump solicited personal political help from a foreign government; that act, Galli writes, is “profoundly immoral.”

Galli has expressed in eloquent and elegant prose feelings my wife and I have been expressing to each other for the past, oh, three years. It is that Donald Trump’s pandering to the religious right should be seen as an affront to those who actually believe in Christian theology and live by its teachings.

We have noted repeatedly that Trump, in our eyes, has violated practically every one of the commandments handed down by God himself. Christianity Today agrees, saying: That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.

Will this be a decisive argument? That remains to be seen. He will keep insisting that he intends to appoint judges faithful to the issues near and dear to evangelical voters.

So far, Trump has managed to maintain that support, even while he behaves like a religious reprobate.

Mark Galli has written a superb essay. Take a look at it here.

 

Christianity Today delivers the goods

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The Rev. Billy Graham would be proud … I believe.

Christianity Today, the magazine founded by America’s Pastor, has delivered a stunning rebuke of the current president who has courted the evangelical movement as if he actually believed the teachings offered in the New Testament.

The publication has called for Trump’s removal from office. Read the analysis here.

The essay is written by editor in chief Mark Galli, who declares that Trump’s ethical incompetence and “moral deficiencies” render him unfit for high office.

Galli’s essay does take Democrats to task for having it in for Trump all along and for the nature of the impeachment process. Still, the publication’s editor states: But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.

Does this essay now mean that millions of evangelical movement votes will abandon the president? Hardly. It does, though, suggest a leading Christian publication has retained a significant sense of outrage over a man who pretends to be faithful to Christian teachings.

This individual isn’t faithful to anything other than to his own well-being, his own poll standing, his own political future.

It appears to me that Christianity Today has, shall we say, found some necessary religion.

The Rev. Billy Graham is looking down on this world with a smile on his face.

Religion and politics: as toxic a mix as you get can get

A social media meme is making the rounds calling for the elimination of religion from the world of politics.

I should add my own description: I mean “secular” politics.

Donald Trump’s re-election bid is likely to be fueled in good measure by the support he continues to have among evangelical voters who, for the life of me, cling to rear bumper of the clown car with Trump at the wheel. Why they continue to hang onto this guy’s message — such as it is — is beyond me.

However, religion in my mind has its place when discussing certain aspects of certain issues. I get the religious element to issues such as abortion, prayer in public places, same-sex marriage. I listen to those arguments and will argue my own point of view, which normally conflicts with the evangelical views on the issues I have just listed.

Then we have those on the right and the far right who continue to insist that they support political candidates on the basis of their faith. More to the point, they make judgments on candidates’ fealty to the New Testament, or whether they are devout enough in their Christian faith, or whether they worship God at all, or whether they adhere to faiths other than Christianity.

Indeed, this is where Trump’s support among evangelical voters would seem to break down, except that it doesn’t, again for reasons that escape me.

The U.S. Constitution states specifically and categorically that there should be “no religious test” applied to officeholders or those who seek to hold public office. The founders were as categorical on that subject as they were on practically any principle they wrote when building the nation’s governing framework.

And, yes, the Declaration of Independence, written 13 years before the Constitution was ratified, does refer to “God” and “the Creator.” They left it to the authors of the Constitution to develop a secular governing document which they wrote precisely that way to steer clear of injecting religious policy into the laws of the land.

So, as this campaign gets wound up and as we start heading down the campaign trail toward the White House, it is my fervent hope we can make our judgments on candidates’ fitness for the office without seeking to determine whether they are holy enough in their principles.

That’s what I want, so help me God.