By Bill Mefford
I had a few disjointed thoughts this morning that I just started writing down that inevitably led me to some scary, but unavoidable conclusions.
I start with the fact that this morning I read that that the Washington Post has counted for the last 7 weeks the number of times that donald trump has lied. They came up with over 1100 times, making the average 30 times a day. 30 times a day. Think about that. 30 times a day! Beyond the normal bodily functions like breathing and blinking, I am not sure I do anything 30 times a day. Much less lie. That just seems unreal.
Thinking about this reality, I remember, as I always do, that this liar is currently supported by 71% of white evangelicals. Do you think if President Obama lied 30 times a day white evangelicals would have been silent, much less supported him anywhere near 71%? Hell no. But then again, President Obama’s problem for white evangelicals seems to be more about race than integrity (meaning, his integrity). Further, do you think if trump lied 31 times a day evangelicals would say, "OK, that does it, we're done. That's too much"? Maybe 32 times? Is there an average number of lies that will finally break their support or is the better bet that the more he lies the more they like him?
I am reminded of research from Pew that found that the more often evangelicals go to church the greater the intensity they have in supporting trump. That stuns me. What exactly are they hearing from their pastor and Sunday school teachers, and the youth pastor, and the deacons, and the elders and anyone else with any kind of leadership in these churches? What Bible verses are they using? And how are they interpreting these biblical passages? In other words, what the hell kind of Christianity are these people practicing?
And, is it really Christianity anymore when all of your biblical exegesis leads you to continue to strongly and even fiercely support and defend someone who lies an average of 30 times a day?
My mind wandered with these random thoughts that only brought me back to the same conclusion - there is literally nothing that can break the hold trump has on white evangelicals. There is a word for that in Scripture: idolatry. Idolatry is the allegiance of the heart towards anything or anyone other than God. Committing idolatry was the ting that prevented Mordecai from bowing down before Haman. White evangelicals are the un-Mordecais of today. They love Haman. This is a form of captivity.
And of course, I then hear the words of Jesus telling both his disciples and those who would later kill him, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free" (John 8:32). At least in this instance, captivity is broken by acknowledging truth; the truth being that Jesus is God incarnate. Jesus has incarnated himself not only among humanity, but specifically, the lowest dregs of humanity; those most often ignored and reviled, the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized. We shall know the truth when we see, acknowledge, and know the poor and oppressed.
Since trump has repeatedly - throughout his life and especially in his brief time in the Oval Office - chosen to heap burden after burden on those already so heavily burdened (consider his demagogic targeting of the Migrant Caravan for only the latest example), white evangelicals as a movement (knowing there are individual evangelicals who are doing this) can escape their captivity through a full repudiation of trump and through their opting to live incarnationally among the poor and oppressed. Speaking very generally, white evangelicals have been discipled to hold values dear to them which are antithetical to the biblical Jesus and they have steeped themselves in the fusion of church and state until their teachings are half-truths (meaning mistruths) and their actions are oppressive towards others. They are the Pharisees of today.
The lying, we know from experience, will only continue, as will white evangelical support.
But what will also not stop is the haunting words of Jesus, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
Resistance is liberation.