Tag Archives: Christianity

The terrorists prayed? To whom?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Now we see video of the Capitol Hill terrorist mob “praying,” I presume, to  while they are ransacking the Senate and House chambers … and while they are seeking to kill — reportedly — the speaker of the House and the vice president of the United States.

Wow, man. That is as rich as it gets.

I’ve already commented on how these perverts are every bit as heinous as the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. Now we see video of them offering prayers.

Are these Christians? If they are, do they read the same Bible I have read since I was a little boy?

I am struggling to recall where I have read in either the Old or New Testaments where it’s OK to storm onto public property and seek to do physical harm to our elected officials.

It’s fashionable at times like this to ask: What would Jesus do?

Certainly nothing approaching what we saw unfold on Capitol Hill.

Evangelical leaders: lukewarm to man of faith

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A story I read in the newspaper this morning offered a curiously ironic tale of how a key political demographic group is awaiting the arrival of a new president of the United States.

The evangelical Christian movement — with leaders such as Dallas preacher Robert Jeffress, Franklin Graham, Tony Perkins — is giving Joe Biden a wait-and-see welcome as he prepares to become president of the United States.

The irony? Joe Biden is a man of deep and abiding faith in God and in Jesus Christ. The man he is replacing as president of the United States has what one could say generously has a flimsy relationship with Scripture. Yet the evangelical movement clung furiously to the notion of Donald Trump getting re-elected to a second term.

Why the love affair with The Donald? It’s purely political. He appointed judges who adhered to evangelicals’ world view. They are anti-choice on abortion; they favor prayer in public schools; they rule consistently against gay Americans’ rights. What does Donald Trump think about all of that? No one can say with any degree of certainty that he endorses any of it. He just makes the correct political appointments.

They’re getting now a man who attends church daily. He prays to God. His faith has held him up as he has battled unspeakable personal tragedy — such as burying his wife and infant daughter and then his grown son many years later.

President-elect Biden’s personal faith journey isn’t enough to persuade many faith leaders to back him with anything approaching the zeal they demonstrated for a guy who has only a passing acquaintance with faith and whose personal behavior betrays virtually every tenet found in both the Old and New testaments of the Good Book.

The headline in today’s Dallas Morning News declared that the “religious right” is “wary of Biden but not hostile.”

The irony of the evangelicals’ tepid response to the election of a man of faith, though, still screams loudly at me.

Evangelicals face a reckoning

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

If there is justice lurking in the election returns that have produced a new president of the United States, it well might rest within the evangelical Christian movement.

I now shall explain.

Evangelicals lined up behind Donald J. Trump, a man without even a passing acquaintance with Scripture. He is an admitted philanderer and has acknowledged groping women, grabbing them by their genitals. More than two dozen women have accused him of various forms of sexual assault. He paid a porn star $130,000 to keep quiet about a liaison she said she had with the future president, who also has denied taking the tumble with her during a one-night stand.

They stood with him as he sought re-election. Trump lost that campaign, however, to Joe Biden, a practicing Catholic — the second Catholic ever elected president.

President-elect Biden is devoted to his faith. He attends Mass regularly. The president-elect has suffered unimaginable pain through death. He has buried two of his children, one an infant, the other an adult. His infant daughter died in a car accident that also killed his first wife and grievously injured his two sons.

The president-elect has proclaimed repeatedly over the span of time that his faith in God and his belief in eternal salvation carried him through his grief.

Still, the evangelical movement stood with the alleged sexual assailant and admitted philanderer.

Yes, if there is justice in these election returns, it should present itself with the evangelical Christian movement looking deeply into its political alliance with someone many of us consider to be downright evil.

Will evangelicals ever find, um, ‘religion’ when it comes to Trump?

Our nation’s evangelical Christians still seem to be all in with Donald John Trump.

He is their guy. He nominates judges to the federal bench who will rule the way evangelicals want them to rule. Therefore, Donald Trump — who has no known active association with any church that anyone can detect — is just fine in their version of the Good Book.

The rest of the Christian community — and you can count me among that crowd of patriotic Americans — are still scratching our noggins over this clown’s vise grip on the evangelical movement.

I harken back to the time he referred to the apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians as “Two Corinthians.” No faithful Christian ever would refer so clumsily to that New Testament book, right?

And then … we had Donald Trump just this past Easter weekend wish us all a “happy Good Friday.” That made me chuckle, given that Good Friday is arguably the most somber day in all of Christianity; it’s the day Jesus Chris was crucified. The joy arrived three days later, according to Scripture, with Jesus’ resurrection.

Still, this president remains the main man among evangelicals.

I don’t get it.

A meme showed up on my Facebook feed. I want to share it here. It’s a grossly overstated critique of evangelicals’ fawning fealty for this cult figure, but it speaks for many of us who are thoroughly and profoundly disgusted with the outcome of the previous presidential election.

Donald Trump doesn’t even have a passing acquaintance with the Holy Word as printed in the Bible. It is not just evident. It is obvious to any of us who have read holy Scripture and who come away with our own interpretation of what it instructs.

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.

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.

Yes, there is a church-state ‘separation’

A former colleague of mine used to insist that because the United States Constitution doesn’t contain the phrase “separation of church and state” that the concept somehow is not relevant.

Well, I would remind him that the First Amendment about a prohibition against writing laws that establish a state religion implies the separation graphically.

Enter the new man nominated to become the U.S. attorney general, William Barr. He has declared his skepticism about the “secular” state the founders created in the late 18th century. He wants to invoke “God’s law” when enforcing the laws of the land.

I am going to presume he means the laws of the Christian God. But what about the laws of all the other gods that Americans worship? The Islamic god, the Jewish god, the Hindu god, the Buddhist god, the Shinto god? Do they matter? Of course they do! Or at least they should.

Except the founders created a Constitution that say there should be no law passed “with respect” to a particular religion. It stipulates there should be “no religious test” for anyone seeking public office.

The words “Christian,” “Christianity” or “Jesus Christ” are not mentioned in the Constitution. Nor does it mention “Jewish” or “Muslim” or “Buddhist” or “Hindu.”

So, to the AG-designate, I merely want to urge him to stick to enforcing the laws of the land, as enacted by Congress, signed by the president and affirmed by the courts.

Irony just doesn’t disappear

I cannot get past the irony of the U.S. attorney general citing Scripture as a justification for a policy that came from the Donald J. Trump administration.

It is fair to presume that AG Jeff Sessions was speaking on behalf of the president when he cited Romans 13 — a New Testament passage — to justify a policy that allows border security agents to take children from their parents who enter the United States of America illegally.

When Sessions told us how the Apostle Paul instructed his listeners to follow the government’s law, I was struck by this thought immediately: Has there been any U.S. president in the past century who is less familiar with biblical teachings that Donald Trump?

Thus, if Sessions was speaking on Trump’s behalf, are we then to believe that the president (a) endorsed what the AG said or (b) even knows what Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans.

I should note, too, that Romans 13 also has been used to justify human bondage, such as slavery. Given the president’s seeming tolerance of white supremacists (such as what he displayed in 2017 in the wake of the Charlottesville, Va., riot) then maybe it’s not such a stretch after all.

I was offended in the extreme to hear Sessions cite New Testament  Scripture to defend the policy that has resulted in roughly 2,000 children being separated from their parents while enforcing this so-called “no tolerance” immigration policy.

It is inhumane, cruel and about as non-Christian as it gets. What in the name of all that is holy and sacred would Jesus Christ himself think of this policy? None of us was around when Jesus walked the Earth, but those of us who know anything about the Bible might conclude he would be aghast at such a policy.

For the attorney general, speaking on behalf of arguably the most amoral president in U.S. history, to use the holy word to justify an inhumane public policy is shameful on its face.

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!

‘Comedian’ crosses a sacred line

Joy Behar calls herself a “comedian.” She also purports to be a political pundit, using her post as co-host of the TV talk show “The View” to express her views on politics and public policy.

I’ve never considered her to be either funny or insightful.

She has, however, now established herself as a boor.

This week, Behar decided to do something I find wholly repugnant. She ridiculed another person’s religious faith. The other party happens to be Vice President Mike Pence, a self-described devout Christian.

Pence supposedly said he receives guidance daily from Jesus Christ. Behar decided to ridicule Pence, saying that anyone who hears Jesus’s voice is “mentally ill.”

Oh, my.

I’ve long held true to some tenets in my own political commentary. I do not like to poke fun at people’s appearance, their name or their religious faith. Those three areas are off limits. Period.

Behar crossed that line with her hideous ridiculing of the vice president. She does not seem to understand how people of faith are able to receive guidance from holy Scripture. For her to suggest that Vice President Pence, or anyone who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ, are “mentally ill” because they receive daily guidance from the Holy Bible.

If Behar wants to criticize Pence’s policy statements or his extensive record as an elected public official, that’s fine. She is entitled to do that. She’s also entitled to utter distasteful comments about the vice president’s faith. The same Constitution that grants Behar that right also enables folks such as yours truly to call such commentary what we believe it is.

As a conservative political commentator noted in a pithy comment about Behar, had she declared that “gay people” are “mentally ill,” ABC-TV would have “fired her on the spot” and hauled her off the set on live television.

Disgraceful.