“Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words."
--attributed to St. Francis of Assisi
The other day, Fred Clark of slacktivist put up a post entitled Trumpism IS white evangelical witness, the whole of it. Slacktivist generally writes about white evangelical Christianity. Read the article -- we'll touch on it.
I grew up attending an evangelical church. Having a witness was important. It was the fundamental foundation of who we are as Christians, rooted in our conversion and transformation in the Holy Spirit when we confess our sins to Christ. When we go forth to convert others -- spread the word of the Lord -- a central part of the, well, sales pitch is what this transformation has done to us.
Unfortunately, despite the quote attributed to St. Francis, most Christians I knew -- and I'm not going to exempt myself when I was part of that subculture -- tended to use a whole lot of words in explaining our witness, our transformation in the Holy Spirit. Why would we need so many words? Maybe we needed all of them because that transformation wasn't obvious in other aspects of our being.
Look, I know Christians aren't perfect. It's taken me a lot of time to realize that people are imperfect. Since Christians are people and not aliens from Saturn, they, by simple logic, must be imperfect as well. It's an impossible standard to hold Christians to perfection -- they say it themselves, they're sinners. But shouldn't we hold them to a higher standard? Shouldn't we expect them to follow Matthew 7:12  (The Golden Rule) and Matthew 22:37-40  / Mark 12:30-31  / Luke 10:25-28  (The Great Commandments).
(An aside: You think that last one might be important given that it's brought up in three of the four gospels?)
I think, therefore, that something should change in Christians -- their kindness and generosity towards their fellow man should shine through them. They should become pro-life, not in the narrow sense of the term that applies merely to the unborn, but for all of us poor sinners walking this cruel old world. Wasn't Jesus the one who brought an end to the law of 'an eye for an eye'? Wasn't he the one who commanded his followers to turn the other cheek? It should be like the Christian hymn "We Will Know They Are Christians By Their Love". It should be obvious.
This brings us back to Fred Clark's post. There was a lot of hullabaloo in white evangelical circles over Donald Trump in 2016 and how, to put this delicately, his imperfections would affect their witness. I mean, here's a man who's broken most, if not all, of the ten commandments. Of all the Republicans on offer in 2016, he's the last man I'd have picked to represent my community if I were still in it.
But when he was elected by the help of the evangelical community, I heard all the excuses. He's a Cyrus. He converted on the campaign trail, so you have to give him some slack because he's a baby Christian. Besides, don't we need to make America great again?
Then we had four years. Four years of lie after lie, of a man attempting to force reality to his will. A man who sent away the desperate -- and worse, stole their children from them for simply attempting to make their way to what they hoped was a better life. A man who, while ripping children from their parents, forced those lonely and temporarily orphaned children to sleep on cold concrete floors in cages. A man who said there were very fine people on both sides, when one side had been caught on tape shouting "Jews will not replace us!" the weekend before. A man who bore false witness against his neighbor, spitting smear after smear of anybody who would dare oppose him or make him look bad. A man who insists he must be at the center of attention at all times -- to the point of tweeting policy decisions at six AM without saying anything to his advisors beforehand.
A man who, as of this writing, has presided over the deaths of 234,000 people -- more than two of my hometowns! -- to a virus that could have been managed and mitigated to a point where more than half of those people didn't have to die. Why? It has been a mix of incompetence and malice. There were early resource battles in which the federal government forced the states into a free-for-all in an attempt to obtain desperately needed supplies. There was the President fretting so much about "making the numbers look bad" and "slow the testing down please" that there never was a robust test-and-trace effort -- thus we never suppressed the virus to a point where we could safely reopen the economy. (Then we opened the economy despite it.) There was discouragement of mask-wearing when the science became clear that even cloth masks could cut down on the spread of this virus. There was a deliberate effort to hold events that would attract lots of people and the virus could be spread easily. There was a tendency to shove aside the experts in disease control and epidemiology for people who would tell the President what he wanted to hear. There has never been a word spoken by the President in memory or sorrow of what we've lost. Last and most dangerously, there has been the decision to simply throw up the administration's collective hands and declare that the country is going to try to burn the virus through the population the hard way -- a decision that will likely condemn a million Americans to their grave and millions more to permanent disability.
Now, as we wait, balanced on a needle, we find that so many Americans have decided that all of the above is acceptable and perhaps even desirable. Maybe it's because they're getting the pro-life in the narrow sense judges. Maybe it's the absolute (and literal, in some cases) demonization of the other party. Maybe it's the chance to stick the shiv in those who are not like them. Or maybe it's simply because power is seductive and riding the high is always easier than admitting there's a problem.
But there are those not in the evangelical bubble. I'm one of those folks outside that bubble, and I will probably be ignored as not one of the tribe anymore. But I still want to speak to them and to tell them this. I see you practically in thrall to the President. I see that he seems to be more important than Jesus to you. I see the delight you get in 'owning the libs' and I see your cruelty disguised as piety. I see your attempts to force your beliefs on the rest of us out of a misguided sense of persecution. And most importantly, I see how you have gained the worldly power you wanted, but you don't seem to realize that it's been at the cost of your soul.
I've heard your witness. St. Francis was right. You don't need to say a word.
 "Jesus said to him, ''You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (NKJV) BACK
 "'And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these.”(NKJV) BACK
 "And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, 'Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?' He said to him, 'What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?' So he answered and said, ' 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself.' ' And He said to him, 'You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.' (NKJV) BACK 
 The Luke variant responds with the questioner being a smart-ass and asking 'Who is my neighbor?" and Jesus responding with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In the future, I'm going to examine this story because it's not what people think it is.BACKThis entry was originally posted at https://katster.dreamwidth.org/767333.html. You are welcome to comment there or here.