My integrity as a follower of Jesus won’t let me.
As I shared in This American Citizen Doesn’t Support Trump: Here’s Why, I tick off most of the boxes for a Trump supporter:
- Texas resident (deep Red state)
- My living the last decade plus has come from the Oil & Gas industries
- Gun owner
- Concealed permit owner
- Own three pickup trucks
- I love my country
- I believe all life is sacred
- I am a Christian
When Jesus was approached by those trying to entrap him, they asked about paying taxes to Rome. Most folks are familiar with the answer: Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. (Matthew 22:21, NIV)
People have debated ever since the details of what this might mean, but the basics are clear: my role as a citizen is separate from my role as a child of God.
Our country’s founders understood this. The Constitutional amendment prohibiting state-established religions had sound reasoning behind it. Many of our original colonies were founded by those fleeing persecution from state-run religions. (Think Pilgrims.) Utah was founded by Mormons fleeing from areas where there supposedly was no state-endorsed religion, but in practice there was. (See America is Not a Christian Nation and Never Was.)
That doesn’t mean that my U.S. citizenship isn’t influenced by my faith; it does mean that I need to recognize that there are other faiths and values present, and I have to take that into account when it comes to appropriate laws and actions.
For example, how does an Amish family’s decision not to seek medical attention for their child differ from an Evangelical family’s decision to participate in a church service with no masks or social distancing during a pandemic?
No, I’m not going to try to answer that here. Rather, I ask you to see that there are often many sides to be considered, and just because we think our way is the right way, it may not be right for everyone. My church doesn’t automatically have the right to tell the church across the street what to do. Nor does a given church (or preacher) have the right to tell Christians or non-believers what to do from its perspective when it comes to the law of the land. That’s what the First Amendment is all about.
When Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” he made it clear that “neighbor” wasn’t limited to those who believe just like me. Therefore, it is incumbent upon me, as a Christian, to consider others when I evaluate my role in society.
So, what’s wrong with Trump?
- His very public immoral lifestyle (by most any standards and without apology), gives him no credence as the moral leader he claims to be. And holding a Bible in front of a church doesn’t make one a Christian; it just means he knows a good photo op, even if he has peaceful protesters removed to get it.
- His vilification of people of other faiths and heritage (non-white), regardless of their actual actions.
- His determination to stop immigration by any means necessary — incarcerating refugees, separating families, and warehousing children — is inexcusable. Wasn’t it the poor and oppressed that Jesus called us to champion?
- He was Pro-Choice until he decided to enter politics and flipped to Pro-Life. Who’s to say he won’t flip again when it serves his purposes? Additionally,
- He hasn’t bothered to address issues that lead to women seeking abortions.
- He has done nothing — or made it harder — for those who don’t have safety nets to raise children (wanted or otherwise): single mothers; the ill; the abused; those without access to birth control; children with special needs.
- Abortion numbers have declined steadily even in “Liberal” states where there are no laws to make it harder. (Some interesting numbers here.) Why then, should this one issue be the overriding factor in deciding who runs the country?
- He shows no regard for the lives of those killed by COVID-19, or who suffer and die from lack of the basics of clean water or access to health care. Aren’t their lives sacred also?
- In essence, Trump dehumanizes anyone he doesn’t like or who opposes him. “Love thy neighbor” has no place in his World of Trump versus Them (Everyone Else).
- He leads by fear.
Let’s talk more about this Fear dynamic.
The messages coming from the White House are all about fear:
- Refugees want your jobs
- The Democrats want to take your guns.
- The Democrats want to destroy your cities.
- All protesters are violent.
- Violence will be worse under Biden.
- If you vote by mail, your ballot won’t count. (So break the law and vote twice. Really?)
None of the above messages are true, but once we hear them and become afraid, they are difficult to challenge. And now he threatens to declare Martial Law if he loses the election (because it must be rigged). Reminds me of Herod the Great killing all the male boys in Bethlehem three years old and under because the Magi said a king had been born.
Letting Trump destroy the Constitutional election process by lies, innuendo and fear for his own personal gain serves none of us.
Fear is a basic human response, built into our brains for survival. It floods our bodies with hormones and emotions, whether the cause of fear is real or not. Because it is so basic, it’s hard to counteract with things like reason.
For example, a friend was on his motorcycle when he was hit by a driver turning left out of a parking lot. He knows that not every driver wanting to make a left turn is going to hit him, but his body still reacts out of fear when he sees one: rapid pulse and breathing, sweat, etc.
When someone repeatedly plays on your fears — real or not — your brain and body start to believe it because of the survival mechanism.
The continued Us versus Them rhetoric coming from the top is the very antithesis of Jesus’ message to love. Of John’s message to show love for one another.
Remember, it wasn’t to the orderly, law abiding, and super-religious people that Jesus reached out to in his ministry during his life on earth. He sought out the Samaritan woman at the well. He reached out to lepers, blind people, tax collectors and prostitutes. He recruited blue-collar fishermen. Some of his closest friends were women, like Mary and Martha.
If we are serious about calling ourselves Christians, then we need to be Christ-like.
Instead of protecting ourselves at all cost, we need to see the poor, the disenfranchised, the hungry, the “other” around us, and reach out. Not with pamphlets or Bible verses, but with food and water. With a hand held in compassion and solidarity. By speaking out for those who are endangered when trying to speaking out for themselves. With love.
Fear is powerful, but—
But as a Christian, I’ve been taught, “Perfect love drives out fear.” (1 John 4:18). And, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6 quoting Psalm 118:6-7 NIV). That doesn’t make fear easy to fight. But the first step is to recognize fear for what it is — not putting your trust in God.
If living out God’s love in the world was easy, the letter we know as 1 John would not have been written. But this is the life we are called to as Christians: to love — not just our families, or friends, or church, or even our country, but all of humankind and creation, whether they are “like me” or not.
Trump has proven himself divisive, selfish, self-serving, and power-hungry — the antithesis of all that God has called us to be and do. Therefore, my integrity as a Christian and my responsibility to those around me prevent me from supporting him.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 NIV)
Grace, Peace, and Hugs to you!