Jesus VS. Trump
Putting political party aside, what does it mean to vote your conscience? I’m not politically savvy, but as an American, my opinion and vote counts. Watching the primaries unfold was amusing at first. With every divisive and hateful comment, I thought, “surely, this will solidify Trump’s loss.” To my surprise, the more he spewed misogynistic, xenophobic and prejudicial rhetoric, he grew in popularity. Now I am stunned Donald Trump has succeeded as the Republican National Candidate for President. According to the Pew Research Center, 70.6% of Americans identify themselves as Christian. After listening to Trump propaganda, can a Christian in good conscience vote for Trump? This is a question I keep asking myself.
I don’t usually incite long passages from the Bible, but since I am trying to appeal to a specific Christian audience, I feel obligated. We rely on God’s word to give us wisdom and direction. It speaks to our hearts and minds and draws us closer to God. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
As Mike Pence said, “I am a Christian, a Conservative and a Republican. In that order.” Well, I’m not a conservative or a Republican, but I am a Christian. As Christians we all contribute to the body of Christ, regardless of political affiliation. I want to challenge all Christians to put aside for a moment, their political and conservative or liberal agenda and really listen to Trump’s message. How does it measure up with God’s word? If we truly are Christians first, we have to take a deeper look at him and what he stands for. Is it possible that God’s word is powerful enough to separate us from our political party?
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Luke 6:45)
Trump has mocked a reporter with a disability, degradingly commented on a journalist’s menstrual cycle, called some woman “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals,” labeled Mexicans liars and rapists, banned Muslims as a whole, allowed inferences to Obama being a Muslim, and the list sadly goes on.
What is the foundation of Christianity and what is the example Jesus gave us. He came in the form of a man, that we might physically experience, even just for a short while, God himself. He lived among us and showed us through his example, how we are to love one another. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
When people brought their children to him, his disciples rebuked them. Jesus responded by telling them, “Let the little children come to me…for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these…anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:13–15) In this passage, we are taught we must have the faith, innocence and openness of a child to believe in Jesus. He also warned us against deceptive leaders. Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:15–16) It is a cautionary warning against those who would lead us astray from God and his path of love, for God is love. (1 John 4:8)
I brought up those 2 passages because I see the American people as the little children God wants us to be. We are open to listen to ideas and are searching for a hopeful tomorrow. We are also cautioned to be discerning. As sheep we can easily be led off course, not realizing we are about to jump off a cliff. What is the Christian response to a presidential candidate who has countlessly used his platform to incite division, callousness and hate? What is the fruit Trump has produced?
When Jesus made his journey from Jerusalem to Galilee, he purposefully travelled through Samaria. In those days, Jews took the long way, crossing the Jordan twice, in order to avoid contact with Samaritans. They were considered unclean. It is here Jesus met a Samaritan woman, who may have been living an immoral lifestyle. He did the unthinkable. He asked her for a drink of water. He chose to communicate with an outcast among an outcasted society and offered living water, salvation. By acknowledging her, he made an open declaration of acceptance. He set the tone for his disciples to cross all boundaries.
Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he promised he would send a helper, his Holy Spirit. In Acts chapter 2, we see God’s gift of himself, this time in the form of his Spirit. This gift came as a violent wind and tongues of fire, resting on each believer on the day of Pentecost. The Spirit enabled them to speak in other languages. People from all around the world gathered in Jerusalem for the special holiday and were now hearing the gospel preached in their own language. The Holy Spirit included everyone, from every nation and every tongue. It set a new precedent of inclusiveness into God’s promise of salvation.
As Christians is our attitude towards others limited to the setting of a church building or are we also responsible for the social and political policies we endorse outside the church? What does “Christian first” mean? Jesus was furious with the Pharisees and Sadducees because they lost the heart of God’s message and distorted his commands. They burdened the average person with legalistic rituals and impossible demands of holiness. Their hypocrisy was more than Jesus could bear. Is closing Planned Parenthood and denying access to free or low cost health care an act that would align with Jesus’ message? Is punishing a woman who has an abortion something Jesus would endorse? In an attempt to keep girls holy, conservatives have managed to lose sight of the true needs of the underprivileged.
Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 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, 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…Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25:34–36,40)
What are we looking for in a leader? What is the legacy we want to leave our children? What is the example we want them to follow? Do we want our children to know that every life is valuable, no matter their religion, race, gender, sexuality or economic class? We are all equally living under God’s grace. Even if we don’t agree with one’s lifestyle, it’s not our place to judge. The mercies of Jesus exceed our understanding. God’s command to us is to love and embrace as he does. We are supposed to stand up for the poor, marginalized and hurting.
Jesus shared a parable about a good Samaritan who rescued a man that was robbed, beaten and left to die. Again, he purposefully chose a Samaritan to reveal that the heart and actions of an “unclean person” matters more than a title of a priest or Levite. When Jesus finished the parable, he asked the people, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36–37)
When refugees flee their country in desperation, what should be our response? As Christians we believe we have a higher calling and are set apart, but to what purpose? Is it to promote and elevate ourselves or is it to represent God’s never-ending mercy through generosity and grace? But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)
What does it mean to be “the light of the world” or a witness of Jesus? You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14–16)
How can we say God is love when we deny basic human necessities to the poorest among us? He sent his Holy Spirit to create unity and break down walls. As Christians where do we find our identity first and foremost? Is it in Christ or in our country? Christianity and America are not synonymous as some would like to think. We are called to be foreigners on this earth. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world… (John 15:19)
To denigrate the entire Muslim faith is to poopoo on God’s promise to Ishmael. It is generally accepted that Muslims are descendants of Abraham through the line of Ishmael. As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him and make him fruitful and multiply him exceedingly; he shall be the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. (Genesis 17:20)
If we were to hold an entire religion responsible for a few radicals, Christians could possibly out-terror Muslims. Our faith has spent centuries wiping out entire tribes and ethnic communities, all in the name of Christ. We even used scripture to justify slavery. People hid behind white masks as they terrorized innocent Black Americans. They set fires to crosses and burned down churches with the notion that God was on their side. If we aren’t careful, our country will regress to our darker days in history.
It’s easy to minimize the atrocities Christians have committed when we are busy condemning others. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3–5)
Did the blood of Christ wash away all of our sins, from every corner of the earth? If America truly is a nation of Christians, shouldn’t we set the example for the rest of the world? What message are we going to send in November? Is Trump really not accountable for all the hateful, divisive things he has said because he’s Republican and a self-proclaimed Christian? I don’t deny his Christianity, but scripture puts weight on our words. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. (James 1:26) What I can do and am responsible for doing is choosing a President who has shown her commitment to the under-privileged of America. A lifelong public servant who has fought for children’s rights, healthcare and education.
If Christians are going to champion scripture as the cornerstone for mandating policy and scrutinizing our leaders, maybe we should delve even deeper.
13 Do not defraud or rob your neighbor. Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight.
Trump University scammed people to spend tens of thousands of dollars for a promised education never received. “Trump hired 200 undocumented Polish workers and refused to pay their proper wages. When they complained, he threatened to have them deported. In 1991, Trump was found guilty of conspiring to avoid paying union pension and welfare contributions.” (David A. Graham)
14 Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God.
Trump openly mocked Serge Kovaleski, an investigative reporter for The New York Times. He has arthrogryposis, a congenital disorder that causes joint contractures in the body.
15 Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.
While Trump doesn’t know how a person can live on $7.25 an hour, he wants to eliminate the federal minimum wage. According to him, competing in the global economy takes precedent over earning honest wages for honest work. In conjunction, his tax plan would benefit the wealthiest of Americans and create a greater divide between the rich and poor. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
16 Do not go about spreading slander among your people.
Trump has been a vocal skeptic about Obama’s birthplace and faith. Obama has proved his citizenship and now he has to prove his faith? Since when do Christians question another Christian’s faith and then raise the question of being a Muslim? If I were to look at Trump’s lifestyle, listen to his speeches and analyze his business practices, I might not consider him a Christian, but I don’t do that. It’s not my place. Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted…Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities… as a matter of conscience. (Romans 13:1–5)
33 When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.
Diversity contributes to this country’s greatness. Trump wants to keep Mexicans and Muslims out of America. He must be aware of how offensive and divisive his language is, as he attempts to connect with Americans who are intolerant of immigrants. Rather than rising up to defend the rights of all people, he has sunken to the lowest threshold of humanity and has affirmed and promoted hateful, bigoted ideas. Does Trump even know that California, Nevada, Utah, most of Arizona, and parts of New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming were once Mexican territory? Even more so, we are all foreigners to this country except for Native Americans. Could a person actually stand before our creator and justify Trumps wall proposal along the border of Mexico?
I understand there are many people who will vote based on one issue. For gun rights advocates, does the second amendment deny implementing reasonable gun laws? Nobody is taking away guns, just adding measures to ensure mass shootings in schools, clubs, and protests immediately stop. All things are lawful; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful; but not all things edify. (1 Corinthians 10:23) In other words, Yes, we have the right to own guns and automatic weapons, but at what expense? The Message Bible puts it this way, We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well. How are we living well when we fight against measures that will make it harder for people to hurt others with guns? As a follower of Christ, can we honestly tell a parent who lost her child in a school shooting, “Sorry for your loss, my prayers are with you, but I don’t think we need to change any laws. Owning automatic weapons is my right as an American.”
For many Christians voting your conscience means standing up for the rights of the unborn child. I am not arguing against protecting the unborn. I am drawing attention to the millions of children who are alive and breathing now and the unborn children yet to come. Isn’t it our responsibility to ensure that love and respect towards their fellow neighbor are instilled? What is the example they will receive the next 4 or 8 years? Are we going to sit idly by and allow them to grow up in an America full of hate and segregation? Is compassion and generosity no longer vital to the Christian faith?
The fear mongering Trump has infected throughout his campaign and highlighted at the RNC preys on the prejudice already existent in America. He has allowed it to fester and blaze across the country. Where God’s word tries to unite us, Trump has managed to segregate us by our gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality and religion. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
I don’t expect people who have already decided to vote for Trump to change their minds based on this article. I am hoping to start a dialogue amongst the Christian community who have an internal conflict between their faith and their party’s candidate. I would never throw scripture at an unbeliever; it would be like giving a mechanic a songbook as an instruction manual on fixing cars. Even as a Christian, sometimes I get tired of Biblical principles dictating political debate and social issues. The problem is interpretation. When Christians ask themselves, “What would Jesus do,” it can create the notion that whatever you choose to do or think is what Jesus would do or think. People start believing the conviction they feel comes straight from God. They are doing God’s will and anyone who doesn’t agree is outside his will. It doesn’t leave much room for other options, ideas or even misinterpretation.
Is it possible that our purpose on earth isn’t to dictate policy and force our Christian morals on a secular society? Jesus didn’t come here to change government, as his followers first believed. He came to change lives. Wouldn’t it be more productive to show kindness and respect one person at a time, exemplifying the love God has for them? Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…(Colossians 3:12)
I am a Christian, a Liberal and a Democrat, in that order.