This week, I’ve been compelled to start a list I call “Things I Never Thought I’d Do.”
This list goes back to Election Day, but most have occurred within the past week. Here’s what’s on the list so far:
- Voted for a Democrat
- Began posting politically on social media
- Attended not one, but two major protests
- Got into an Uber with a stranger on the way to one of the two protests (when they shut down the airport trains)
- Found out the publishing house I’m writing music for plans to allow the ACLU full access to their library (including my music) for free–and I was actually okay with that
- Unfriended one of my long-time Christian friends on Facebook for making repeated sarcastic pro-Trump comments
Most of these were out of character for me, but the last one, believe it or not, was the most painful. I hate feeling like I’m all alone on one side while so many I’ve grown up with are on the other. Yet conscience will not allow it to be any other way.
Although I’ve been quiet here lately, I’ve actually spent the time trying to write blog post after blog post, reworking and reworking, trying to encapsulate my feelings in a way that didn’t sound like sour grapes or angry rambling. Most of this content is in long fragments of disorganized rhetoric in my drafts folder.
This is NOT the post I was going to lead with.
I was going to lead off a series of posts describing at length how I felt about why Donald Trump should not have been supported by the church, what the ramifications are now that he’s been elected, and where I feel the church should go from here.
Then I thought, maybe I should just share my feelings. Instead of trying to frame a logical argument, perhaps just share how I felt abandoned and betrayed by the church because they bought into the empty promises and voted for a morally bereft narcissist who seriously could endanger us all.
And then, Saturday happened, and all that changed. Now, I’m just plain pissed.
This week has been the most chaotic and unsettling week I think I’ve ever experienced as an American old enough to vote. And what happened on Saturday was the icing on the cake, the deciding factor. The last straw. It’s an issue that should spark the righteous indignation of any human who claims to follow Christ.
Mr. Trump issued an executive order that not only closed our borders to millions of refugees, but went much further, blocking even legitimate U.S. residents (green card holders) from coming home after visiting overseas. It came without warning. It was poorly executed. It instantly struck fear into the hearts of innocents all over the world. It separated family members from their loved ones, blocked dozens of travelers who had already been granted permission to enter. Some had sold their homes to make the trip. Some who were detained were active service members. One of the people who now cannot enter the United States is an Iranian filmmaker whose film is nominated for an Oscar.
Beyond the inconvenience and chaos was the sheer principle of the thing: Trump claimed the ban was not religiously motivated, but then said Christians would receive preferential treatment over Muslims. The fact that Christians were the favored ones in the equation is no reason to celebrate. This is a level of religious discrimination the likes of which we have never seen since this country was founded, and something I don’t believe for one second that Jesus would condone. The claim that it was not religious discrimination was a boldfaced lie.
Hence the trip to JFK Airport to protest, and the Uber ride with a stranger.
I am well aware of the concerns about terrorists entering the country, and I don’t deny that more could be done to protect our borders–although most terrorist acts that have occurred on our soil since 9/11 have been at the hands of long-time American residents or citizens, and far more Americans have died because other Americans shot them with guns. But there is a threat to our way of life that is even greater than terrorism, and the name of that danger is fear. Namely, the irrational fear that causes us to alienate and exclude the innocent in the name of protection and self-preservation. This is in direct contrast to the teachings of Christ: we were never given permission to protect ourselves at the expense of others. In fact, we are not to love our lives, even unto death. And in fact, if you know your Bible, you know that this type of fear and panic is the very thing that prompted King Herod to exterminate all children under the age of two, in a desperate attempt to kill the one Child he believed was a threat to his kingdom.
It is a fear that is diabolical. It is of the devil himself. It is as anti-Christian as you could get. And it is the primary basis behind Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban.
Yes, I’m angry about the executive order. I was angry enough to leave the comfort of my home last night with my family and go to the airport to show my displeasure.
But what angers me even more is the deafening silence from those who should be standing against it. I’m angry at the silence of the lawmakers, especially the GOP, who are quietly pretending that this didn’t happen.
But astoundingly, someone else has fallen largely silent: the church.
That’s why I’m pissed off.
For people who call themselves Christ followers…there is simply no excuse not to stand up for the victims of this ridiculous and inhumane act that ultimately will NOT make us one bit safer, but in fact might make us even less safe.
During the election, the church was singing Trump’s praises. Memes, fake news, all sorts of propaganda polluting my Facebook feed. This past weekend…crickets. Not very many are cheering Trump on–they’re just laying low.
I watched as the ACLU, an organization I have historically been at odds with, led the charge for what was right. I watched friend after friend on Facebook stand up and express their outrage.
Except for almost all of my evangelical friends.
Do you know what they posted? Pictures of their lunch. Pet photos. Vacation pics. Memes.
Pretending it wasn’t happening.
This isn’t the first time the church has failed to defend the defenseless. The last time it happened on a large scale was in Nazi Germany during World War II, when churches of all stripes essentially “went along to get along” and never resisted Hitler’s persecution of the Jews. Horrific stories are told about Sunday morning church bells, and German Christians walking to church while the stench of burning human flesh wafted in from the death camp just outside of town.
Yes, no one got burned alive or gassed yesterday. But this is where it starts, and if you think it couldn’t happen here, you are terribly naive. The church should have been leading the protests yesterday, not the ACLU or Amnesty International. Yet most of the church–even those who deep in their hearts KNOW this is wrong–stayed silent yesterday. After all, many of them supported this man, and it would be embarrassing to admit that maybe they’d made a mistake in voting for him.
If this doesn’t demonstrate how far the western Church has strayed from the teachings of Christ and the priorities of His kingdom–I don’t know what does.
I think the reason my emotions are so taut on this issue is that it strikes the chord of exactly why I think the church supported Trump in the first place. This election was a test, and the church failed the test. For the first time, we had a choice between voting our political agenda or voting with the teachings of Christ in mind. The church chose its agenda. Evangelical Christians told themselves they were voting to protect the unborn, even though there are many other things we could all be doing to protect the unborn besides fight a culture war we should never have been fighting in the first place. (More on that in another post.)
But in reality, if we look at it honestly, this was a vote for self-preservation. The church backed the most ungodly candidate of our lifetime, despite his track record and his obvious erratic behavior, simply because he promised to make things easier for them and to support their agendas. So the church lied to herself, told herself Trump was the conservative pro-life candidate, and even her so-called prophets falsely prophesied that Donald Trump was God’s choice for President. In so doing, the church sacrificed her witness to the world on an altar of self-preservation, all out of fear of what she had to lose.
The church sold its soul by voting for Trump. And this weekend it showed. The silence was deafening.
If you supported Donald Trump–and even if you didn’t–if you aren’t standing up to this atrocity, I have no choice but to call you out on it. If this offends you, or if you think I’m being too harsh… I invite you to take a moment and read this passage from Matthew 25: 31-46:
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”
Even though we are not currently at judgment day, I believe this event is singling out the sheep from the goats. Which one are you?
Your silence is the tell.