By Bill Mefford
On Sunday morning, on “Fox and Friends” a Southern Baptist pastor and long-time trump loyalist named Robert Jeffress made an astounding claim: “donald trump is the most faith-friendly President in US history.” donald trump is a documented serial sexual predator, a serial liar, and accused narcissist, but yet, “evangelicals” have taken to him like fish to water, voting for him at the clip of over 80%. Now, Scripture clearly shows that God spoke to Balaam through a donkey so perhaps God might still choose to speak through an ass. But if trump’s actions over his 100+ days as president constitute a faith, what kind of a faith would that look like? Here are a few snapshots of a faith trump and Jeffress seem committed to.
- This faith is one that believes in unlimited access to guns. Just a couple of weeks ago donald trump spoke to the NRA, the first sitting president to do so since Reagan, and in a stunningly poor choice of words in light of the tens of thousands of people each year killed by guns in this country, he said that the national “assault” on the 2nd Amendment was finally over. Poor NRA folks, I had no idea their long national nightmare of the one legislative attempt to enact watered down background checks, was such a difficult “cross” to bear. Further, trump, quietly and out of the glare of TV cameras, signed legislation which rolled back President Obama’s executive order which made it more difficult for people with serious mental illness to purchase firearms. So, forget Micah 4 and beating weapons into plowshares, and go buy that assault weapon and steal the fig tree from your neighbor to sit under.
- This faith believes that healthcare is not a right for all people. After the White House and the GOP-controlled House stopped their political spinning of the American Health Care Act they passed last week by the skin of their teeth, we are left with a health care bill that seems to care nothing for health care for people, especially the sick. It is apparent that many people with pre-existing conditions will not be covered under their plan as it allows states to apply for waivers, which would force those with the most expensive health problems to be forced into high-risk pools with a paltry sum of $8 billion to cover the entire country. Almost one trillion dollars will be rolled back from Medicaid, which is used specifically for the poor, while premiums and deductibles in many parts of the country will skyrocket. The Republicans have to cut one trillion from Medicaid to pay for their massive tax cuts for the wealthiest people. And although it is yet to be scored, similar legislation scored earlier this year showed that 24 million would be thrown off of health care in ten years. So, it would be imperative for believers in this faith to also believe that Jesus is a “great physician” who works for free because they would surely need someone they could afford after this kind of reckless plan is enacted.
- This faith fears Muslims and wants to ban them from the United States. trump has long called for a ban on Muslims (though they are hoping the courts forget all his campaign promises). trump has attempted twice to initiate his Muslim ban, but has been rightly prevented from doing so because it is blatantly unconstitutional. He also said he wants to racially profile Muslims and their communities, even encouraging law enforcement to surveil mosques. So, yeah, a convert ton this faith, must be incredibly suspicious of Islam and seek to marginalize them at every turn, scapegoating them as often as possible.
- Likewise, this faith ignores the hundreds of verses and passages in Scripture that call for care for the poor and welcome to the sojourner. Instead, the poor are categorized into a very small group of “deserving” poor who earn our good graces and the vastly large group of “undeserving”: poor who could well become “deserving” if they just tried harder and were more…..well…..like us rich folks. Likewise, the sojourner is categorized into two groups – “illegal” and legal. It absolutely matters not whether “undeserving” poor or “illegal” sojourners have been victimized or forced into their status as poor or immigrant by the systems that benefit followers of this faith. The onus is not on believers in this faith to advocate alongside of or even personally know the poor or immigrants in any real or substantive way. Our only responsibility is to be thankful we are not “like them” and to remind them what mistakes they have made.
- Believers in this faith must lie regularly and refuse to apologize. You must lie even in the face of what everyone knows to be the exact opposite. Whether it is about someone trying to wiretap you or the number of those who attended your inauguration, lie as though you really believe it because if you really do believe it then it isn’t a lie. You can apply amoral relativism to everyone else while remaining unbendingly absolute in your confidence and belief in yourself. If what you say doesn’t make sense it doesn’t matter because if you believe it then it is true and just. And when you are always right and always tell the truth then there is absolutely no need to apologize. Apologize for what?
- Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, believers in this faith must have as their highest and only goal the advance of the United States, particularly the powerful and affluent elite that live here. Indeed, it is America first as spoken so ineloquently at trump’s inauguration. Along with America first is the adjoining call for religious triumphalism – everyone must accommodate the unofficial (soon to be official) religion of the United States: white, evangelical, masculine Christianity. Any rebuke or refusal to accommodate white, evangelical, masculine Christianity is a certain form of persecution. Though Jesus promised his believers that they would endure persecution he also clearly told them, “do whatever the hell you want because following me is a ticket to paradise on earth and woe unto those who prevent you from securing your rights on this earth.” (1 Hesitations 4:18)
We didn’t get to cover treatment of women and the invention of “locker room” talk or the rollback of regulations on the holy corporations that are the true gleam in God’s eye. But what we know from even just the few dot points above is that this faith is not a new one begun by trump. It is one we have seen quite often and have become very familiar with, maybe too familiar, which is why we don’t refute it more often. This faith really is white, evangelical masculine Christianity and yes, it has as much to do with the biblical Jesus as trump does.