Tag Archives: evangelicals

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.

How does POTUS cling to his political base?

I don’t hang out exclusively with Anti-Trumpers. Really. I don’t.

Many of my friends and family members stand staunchly with the president of the United States. They’re all good folks. They are straitlaced and God-fearing — and I mean that in a good way, not in the prudish, stuck-up version of the words.

I haven’t asked many of them personally a question that continues to nag at me, so I’ll pose it here. Perhaps some of them will respond to me personally. Hey, they might even join the occasional social media frenzy that usually accompanies any discussion involving Donald Trump.

The question? How do these folks justify standing behind a president who embodies almost every possible personal trait that they would find detestable in any other politician?

I do not get it. Not at all.

It simply baffles me that a man who said he has never sought “forgiveness” retains such high standing among those who understand that forgiveness and grace are essential to their Christian faith. It also strains credulity to understand how this politician scarfs up the support of evangelicals even after he admits to grabbing women by their pu***. Think of how they would respond if any other politician would make such a hideous admission.

I am speaking as well not just to my pro-Trump family members and my actual friends, but also to the social media “friends” who are kind enough to read my blog and offer comment on my musings from time to time. I won’t presume to know them as well as I know those with whom I am close, but surely they must harbor some misgivings about how they feel toward this fellow … don’t they?

I have said from the very beginning of his political career — which began with that celebrated/infamous escalator ride in Trump Tower in June 2015 — that Donald Trump is fundamentally unfit to hold the office he now occupies. His unfitness spans the gambit: professionally, politically and personally.

And yet this individual continues to cling to that base of support, to whom he speaks exclusively whenever he pops off on Twitter or speaks to us through the media he continues to call “fake news” and the “enemy of the people.”

It blows my mind! All of it.

VP ignores hypocrisy in his commencement speech

Vice President Mike Pence told graduating students at Liberty University this weekend that they will be “shunned” and “ridiculed” because of their Christian faith.

He said his wife, Karen, has been subject to such bad behavior because she hooked up with an evangelical-based educational institution.

“Some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs,” Pence told the Liberty U grads, calling himself “a brother in Christ.” “As you go about your daily life, be ready.”

For those who ridicule others merely because of their faith, yes, that is wrong, hateful, hurtful and not in keeping with any great religious faith of which I am aware.

However, the VP might be missing a critical element in the criticism that comes toward those who proclaim their Christian faith. It is the hypocrisy associated with Christian leaders who talk a good game about faith, but who continue to stand with a president whose own life and his brief career in public service have been testaments to practically everything counter to what Jesus teaches the world.

I would put the vice president in that category.

I don’t doubt Pence’s faith. I have serious doubt about Donald Trump’s proclamations of faith. I cannot wrap my noggin around the idea that just because the president says he’s a believer that he actually is one.

His entire life prior to becoming a politician has been focused exclusively on one element: enriching himself. Yet there is the vice president standing with him as he panders openly to evangelicals who comprise the political base that keeps buttressing his support.

Scripture instructs us to be truthful. Has the president followed the commandment that we “must not testify falsely against your neighbor”?

It’s the hypocrisy, Mr. Vice President, that puts evangelicals too often in a position to be “shunned” and “ridiculed,” even if they aren’t deserving of either.

Do these symbols speak for a community?

CLARENDON, Texas — We have been traveling through this community for more than two decades en route from Amarillo to the Metroplex … and occasionally beyond.

During a relatively recent span of time, though, I have been struck by the plethora of religious symbols that have sprouted up on both ends of the highway that courses through the Donley County community.

Some of them are crosses, symbols of Jesus’s crucifixion. There are signs, too. They speak about God. There’s a touch of preaching in them; some of the signs speak of the “only path to salvation.” That kind of thing.

I’ve long wondered: Who put these messages out there? Did the city sanction them? I’ve sniffed around only a little bit.

Then I found a link to an Amarillo TV station that rooted out an answer or two.

As KFDA NewsChannel 10 reported: A local resident, Jim Griffin, put the signs up. They are meant to predict consequences far worse than 9/11. They seek to espouse Christian belief.

Not everyone is happy about the signs, or the crosses, or the message some have construed — which is that Clarendon is welcome only to Christians.

Hmm. I don’t buy that. I’ve never felt “evangelized” when I read the signs or look at the crosses.

The signs generally speak of hope and faith. Is there something really wrong with that? I think not.

Yes, it is a curious community feature. I have noticed that all the signs and the crosses are sitting on private property. I haven’t noticed anything on the Clarendon College campus, or at the Donley County Courthouse, or at Clarendon City Hall. There clearly would be a constitutional concern were there to be such messages delivered on public property. That First Amendment prohibition, after all, does prevent government from sanctioning any specific religion.

Not everyone is happy about it. Read the editorial in the Clarendon Enterprise here.

As for non-Christians’ feelings as they motor through Clarendon, I am sensitive to that, too. However, I am unaware of anyone forcing individuals to abide by whatever message the signs convey.

I rarely stop in Clarendon for anything other than gas or perhaps a convenience snack or cold drink. I might feel differently about the crosses and the signs if a convenience store clerk were to start preaching to me.

My response would be: Talk to me on Sunday — in church!

Evangelicals continue their stunning hypocrisy

The Rev. Franklin Graham speaks for a lot of evangelical Christians. Thus, I’ll presume for a moment that those who follow him buy into the nonsense he espouses about Donald J. Trump Sr.

Oh, the hypocrisy of this preacher. It’s stunning to the max.

Graham recently told The Associated Press that Trump’s extramarital affairs are no one’s business. He said voters knew what they were getting when they elected him president in 2016. Back off, Graham implores us, because Trump’s marital infidelity is old news and has nothing to do with the here and now.

Why, he messed around with Stormy Daniels a dozen years before he became president, said Graham. He hasn’t messed around since then. OK, then. That makes it all right. It’s all good, right Rev. Graham?

How does that square with what Graham said about Barack H. Obama, Trump’s immediate predecessor as president?

Let’s see. He questioned President Obama’s faith because he was born to a Muslim father, a man the president barely knew. The president is a practicing Christian and has over the years declared his love of and devotion to Jesus Christ multiple times.

Oh, and then there’s this: Barack and Michelle Obama have been involved in a loving and faithful marriage for more than two decades, which is decidedly more in keeping with Biblical principles than the life that Donald Trump has led throughout much of his adult life.

So, the Rev. Graham gives Donald Trump a pass on his hideous moral indiscretions, but doesn’t extend the same Christian grace to, say, former President Bill Clinton. Graham wrote this in 1998 of President Clinton: If he will lie to or mislead his wife and daughter, those with whom he is most intimate, what will prevent him from doing the same thing to the American public?

So help me, this so-called “man of God” possesses an amazing reservoir of hypocrisy.

Evangelical infatuation with Trump still confuses

Someone has to explain something to me in simple language.

My question goes like this: How does Donald J. Trump continue to hold tightly onto support from the evangelical Christian community?

I ask because of a blog posted by R.G. Ratcliffe in Texas Monthly. Ratcliffe writes about a potential Republican challenger for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz next year from an evangelical TV network executive who is angry that Cruz didn’t endorse Trump at the 2016 Republican presidential nominating convention.

The challenge might come from Bruce K. Jacobson Jr., vice president for LIFE Outreach International and an aide to James Robison, a noted televangelist.

I do not get this! Honest! It confuses me in the extreme!

Christians line up behind Trump

The president of the United States would seem to be totally anathema to the evangelical movement, given the president’s past. He has bragged about his marital infidelity; he has admitted to groping women; he never has been associated with faith-based causes or associated openly with religious organizations.

Sen. Cruz has been much friendlier to evangelical causes than Trump ever had been prior to his becoming president. Jacobson, though, holds Cruz’s non-endorsement at the RNC in 2016 against him.

As Ratcliffe writes: Cruz had signed a pledge to support the party’s nominee, Jacobson said, but then didn’t follow through at the convention. “I’m concerned about anybody who doesn’t keep their word. I’ve very concerned about that. In Texas, when we give our word, it’s our word,” Jacobson said.

If memory serves, Cruz made that pledge early in the GOP presidential primary campaign, only to be humiliated personally by Trump’s insults and lies. Trump disparaged Cruz’s wife with a cruel tweet and then suggested the senator’s father was linked somehow to the assassination of President Kennedy. Cruz called Trump an “amoral” liar, which I also happen to believe he is.

Did the eventual Republican nominee conduct himself as a “good Christian” with that kind of behavior?

I don’t know about you, but I am not at all surprised — nor displeased — that Ted Cruz chose not to “endorse” Trump at the 2016 Republican convention.

So here we are. Cruz stood on a principle of fair treatment and for that he might get a Republican Party primary challenge from an evangelical Christian leader?

Explain it to me. Please.

Who, what is Donald J. Trump?

A family member and I had an exchange earlier today about Donald J. Trump in which my kin sought to make a point that the president isn’t a conservative.

This family member is the real deal. He considers himself to be a true believer and that Trump is not of the same mindset as he is.

I’ll concede that point to my young relative.

The truth, as I see it, is that Trump has no ideological grounding. He entered politics seeking to shake up the world. He said he wants to “make America great again.” As I’ve watched him stumble, bumble and fumble his way through the first seven months of his presidency, I am left to wonder: What in the name of all that is holy does this guy believe? What does he stand for?

He appointed a White House communications director who used to support Barack Obama. Indeed, the president himself used to be friends with Bill and Hillary Clinton. He used to be pro-choice on abortion. The president once favored some controls on guns ownership.

He ran for president as a populist, vowing to restore American jobs. Trump then vowed to propose a trillion-dollar infrastructure improvement program. He wants to overhaul the tax code.

He has trashed our intelligence community. Trump has disparaged our nation’s most valued allies.

Through this maze of ideological confusion and nonsense, he remains the favorite son of the evangelical Christian community … even though he’s never — that I can tell — spent any significant time understanding the teachings of Jesus Christ.

His Republican Party “base” adores him because he “tells it like it is.”  Good grief, man! That’s it?

I have said until I am nearly hoarse that Donald Trump has no business being president of the United States. However, that’s what he has become.

As I continue to watch his flailing and — so far — failing administration, I am left to wonder: What in the world does this clown stand for, what are his core beliefs and what in the world is he doing to this great nation?

Trump is evangelicals’ ‘dream president’?

Jerry Falwell Jr. attended an executive order signing ceremony today and declared that Donald J. Trump is the “dream president” for the nation’s evangelical Christians.

Wow. Let’s ponder that one.

* Trump has been married three times. I don’t fault him for that, per se. However, he has boasted about cheating on his first two wives.

* The president was riding a bus a dozen years ago with Billy Bush and was overheard telling the “Access Hollywood” host that he grabbed women by their private parts. He said he could get away with that kind of behavior because he is a “celebrity,” a “star.”

* The president has mocked a reporter with a serious physical disability.

* Trump has talked about how he was able to walk in on half-dressed beauty pageant contestants because he owned the pageant.

Today, though, the president signed some executive orders that allows preachers to endorse political candidates from the pulpit. He also signed an order that enables business owners to cite religious objections when they refuse to provide services to, say, gay customers.

He did all this in the name of “religious liberty,” which pleases Falwell, the president of Liberty University.

Thus, evangelicals’ dream has come true. All the other stuff, the boorish behavior, doesn’t matter.

Oh, boy.

Evangelicals are splitting along gender lines

beth-moore

A friend made me aware of what looks like a significant development in a key part of Donald J. Trump’s coalition of political supporters.

It reveals a split among evangelical Christians. The men among them are sticking with the Republican presidential nominee. The women, however, are splitting away.

Listen to the women, fellas.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/10/10/beth-moore-the-christian-women-speaking-out-about-trump-s-bad-news.html

The evangelical women are aghast, appalled and repulsed by the revelations disclosed in that hideous recording of Trump boasting about his sexual proclivities.

According to an article published in The Daily Beast, one well-known evangelical preacher, Beth Moore, once was in Trump’s camp. Now she’s out, shocked and horrified at what she heard on that recording.

As The Daily Beast reported: “But something changed for Moore after Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president of the United States, was caught on tape bragging about his ability to sexual assault women. When Trump said, ‘When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything,’ Moore had had enough.”

She’s apparently not alone among women who call themselves evangelical Christians.

Also, from The Beast: “Beth Moore wasn’t alone in her condemnation of Trump. Her comments sent ripples around the evangelical world and were seconded by Christian mega-speaker and author Christine Caine. Sara Groves, the Dove Award-nominated Christian artist, told me, ‘Someone like Beth can go a long way in helping Evangelicals recognize these major blind spots.’”

We hear a lot about hypocrisy during every election cycle. This one is no different. Conservatives accuse liberals of being hypocritical by criticizing Trump’s behavior while being silent about, say, Bill Clinton’s own transgressions.

To my way of thinking, though, the greater hypocrisy occurs among conservatives — notably evangelicals — who continue to support Trump despite the candidate’s known history of behaving in ways and doing things that evangelicals say they detest.

The revelations out of Trump’s own mouth have delivered what ought to be a disqualifier among those who adhere to spiritual values. Beth Moore and other evangelical women are stepping up and declaring that, indeed, they are as disgusted as the rest of us.

Pastor baffled by evangelicals’ support of Trump

max-lucado

Max Lucado is baffled.

The noted Christian pastor cannot understand the fixation that many evangelicals seem to have with Donald J. Trump.

Amen, preacher! So am I! So are a lot of us out here!

Trump’s support among evangelicals goes against the norm, said Lucado. Republican presidential nominees previously have had at least had a working knowledge of Christian theology, said Lucado.

Trump doesn’t have it. Nor does he have any semblance of a record devoted to doing the Lord’s work, Lucado writes.

Here’s what Lucado told National Public Radio, for example:

“I’m curious why we’re giving him a free pass on this behavior. Typically, evangelicals have tried to hold our leaders up, if they call themselves Christians, to a standard consistent with the faith and then of course consistent with whatever office they hold. But it seems like we’re more than willing to give Mr. Trump a free pass. The classic one was in Iowa when he was asked, ‘Do you ever ask for forgiveness of sins?’ and he said, ‘No, I don’t need to.’ I nearly fell out of my chair. That’s right at the heart and core of the Christian faith, that we’re all sinners, we all need forgiveness of sins.”

Here’s more of the interview:

http://www.npr.org/2016/03/06/469371887/pastor-max-lucado-still-baffled-over-evangelical-trump-supporters?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social

I have run out of ways to explain away the rationale of voters this year. I join Pastor Lucado in the crowd of baffled observers who cannot comprehend how — and why — this election has taken this turn.

I’ll more to say — probably quite shortly — about how wrong I’ve been to date in trying to predict the unpredictable about this goofy election.