Exclusion and Inclusion

Political compromise and the collusion of church and state

A Facebook friend, who attended the same church when I was a child, shared an image in support of Trump, containing the following words:

Unite for Trump

He didn’t say you couldn’t have an abortion… he said you have to pay for it yourself if you do. He didn’t say refugees were not welcome… he said let’s make sure they are not here to harm us before we let them in. He didn’t say that Mexicans couldn’t come in… he said come in the right way, not through the back door. He’s not taking away ANYONE’S freedom… he’s keeping us safe and unfunding things that never should have been funded in the first place.
That’s simply the way I see it… If I am wrong, please correct me.
#YesIStandBehindTrump

My Facebook friend defended this point of view when criticized:

Because my view is different, doesn’t mean I don’t read or listen to all points of view…my point of view is not the same as yours! Doesn’t make it wrong.

Frustrated by the centuries-old corruption caused by the collusion of church and state, I responded.

“Please correct me?” You appeal to a false equivalency of differing points of view. If you call yourself a banana, I’m going to say that you are wrong, whatever your particular point of view. You don’t appear to want to be corrected. It is not what this man doesn’t say that is terrifying. It is the things that he does say. He has admitted to being a sexual predator.

How do any of this individual’s values square with your Christian beliefs? We prayed the same creed in the same church. But something strange has happened since. “I like your Christ, but I don’t like your Christian.” Educate yourself. Consider the rise of American authoritarianism. Like all human beings, we are subject to the limitations of our own implicit biases. However, our points of view have implications for our actions, and therefore will have direct consequences as a result of those actions. If you vote for someone similar in Canada, I will hold you personally responsible for a point of view that will cause irreparable harm to our nation. If you want to be a sheep blindly following your herd, fine. That is your prerogative in a democratic nation. That does not make your point of view right. Your point of view has consequences, and it is causing irreparable harm. Stalin had a point of view. Hitler had a point of view. Nazis were Christians who also held to a point of view of German nationalism and Aryan superiority. Trump has a point of view, but it does not align with reality. Not when he can make up anything he likes in his own mind and sell it as truth. The art of the deal is in how many people he can find to fall for his sales tactics. Please tell me, which of his character traits convinces you of his Christian faith? You’ve been taken in by a salesman.

Consider the point of view of a person who grew up as a conservative Christian. You are trying to sell a sort of shoddy relativistic thinking. I’m not going to sugar coat this. You are wrong.

Facing reality means choosing sides. Christianity has a long history of people making hard choices. Consider the point of view of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He told the majority of his own countrymen that they were wrong and was willing to die for that stand.

You may call yourself a Christian. I may consider myself a Christian. But I have to take a stand for what I think is right. And I think you are dead wrong. I may be wrong, but I think we’ve already gone down this road as a human race, and I’d rather not repeat these same mistakes. The cost is far too high.

Now, don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not trying to pick a fight. I’m trying to make a rational argument, since you appear to be inviting correction. I am sincerely trying to understand how you have come to your stance in support of this tyrant. But I am beyond using polite terms in reference to a man who is clearly a danger to us all.

If you are interested in being religious in the public square, then take some responsibility for how you represent Christ to the world. Does this man really represent you? Does he really represent Christ in the world? If not, why align yourself with him?

What Trump has done is inspire a resistance movement. And part of that resistance movement is to dispel the myths of blind faith. Faith is reasonable and rational, based on evidence, on facts, and yes, on science. Trump has destroyed any shred of credibility that the American religious right might have had by the unholy marriage of the religious right and the Republican Party — by ignoring evidence, facts, science and truth. By regarding political power as the ultimate virtue, by colluding in making truth the first casualty of the Trump presidency, this union of church and state has ultimately failed the vision of the church to be a contrast society, an upside down kingdom where the greatest are the least, and a representative of God’s love in the world. Trumpism is syncretism, relativism, and a betrayal of everything that Christ represents. Now, the question is how to pick up the pieces.

As you imply that you “read or listen to all points of view,” we can discuss your point of view and your outrageous claim, once you’ve had time to digest all of these different points of view. But be prepared to consider that your point of view might be limited, and your conclusions may be wrong. I will do the same.

Having been rebuked by a friend of a friend for perhaps being unkind and unloving in my response, I replied:

Right. If this comes off as unloving, that is certainly not my intent. I speak (hopefully) the truth in love. But I also do want to find the right balance between remaining silent and resisting evil. This political compromise is such an egregious evil, that I cannot remain silent. I would much rather avoid fractious arguments that just further divide and undermine the project of reconciliation that would lead to peace and understanding. What, in this case, is the right balance?

Exclusion

My father, whom my friend is sure to remember from the church we attended together when we were children, was an immigrant. His story of moving to Canada is an unusual one. Had these sorts of immigration policies that my friend is advocating for existed at the time that my father arrived in Canada, I would not exist. When I say that my friend is wrong, I merely advocate for my own right to exist and to find a place to belong. By extension, I advocate for others who are searching for a place to belong. Trump is not the issue. People not thinking through the implications of their bias toward exclusion is the issue. And this is an issue that I am clearly losing sleep over. If I did not love, I would not care enough to point out how I feel this obsession with political power and national security is an unloving and inhospitable attitude to the very “neighbours” and “strangers” and “enemies” we are called to love. If we have lost our ability to say what is right and what is wrong, I fear we have already lost the ability to resist evil and to understand love. Have I crossed a line by using the word “wrong”? Perhaps I lose my ability to be persuasive. I apologize for engaging in what may appear to be a personal attack. My intent is not to attack, but to be heard, to be a voice for those who don’t have a voice. Facebook is probably the wrong venue to attempt a civil discussion. My attempt probably comes across as a form of trolling, as it is less a discussion and more of a monologue. Thank you for kindly responding and helping this more closely resemble a conversation.

Inclusion

Jill Rowe of Oasis UK is far more persuasive than I could ever be about the need for inclusiveness in the church. And they love much better than I do. If love is what we are about, let’s give less attention to political distractions and more to unity of purpose and spirit.

A few months ago, I would have ignored everything on Facebook as mindless distractions. Now that this social media/popularity contest has actual political policy implications, the time for silence is long past. Forgive my lack of social graces. I’m pretty new to this.

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