I don’t usually write about politics, since it can land me in a heap of trouble. But honestly — this time, I can’t resist. This is too important.
I don’t believe anyone could have missed it: Donald Trump is the only guy left in the race for the Republican Party’s nominee for president. He seems to have locked the nomination up. Everyone else is gone.’
As an aside, scary as Trump is, Ted Cruz is even scarier. Cruz is a reconstructionist, a Christian who holds to the fundamentalist belief that modern societies ought to be governed by the law of Moses. This modern understanding of Mosaic law is nothing less than the Christian form of Islamic sharia law. You can see the problem. What’s even scarier about reconstructionists is that anyone who deviates from their understanding is to be condemned.
Needless to say, I’m glad Cruz is out. Can you imagine him with his fingers on the pulse of power?
At the same time, I’m still terrified by a Trump candidacy. It has become commonplace to compare what Trump is doing with what Hitler and Mussolini did in the 1930’s. In some ways, that kind of comparison is not very helpful. But that doesn’t change the fact that the comparison works for a reason. As those fascist leaders appealed to the worst in the German and Italian character, so Trump appeals to the worst in the American character.
Trump’s campaign has incited horrific violence against black and queer people, and also against women. Trump has directed a stream of foul invective against women. He has attacked female candidates in the Republican race, female news anchors, and now he’s ramping up his attacks on Hillary Clinton. His diatribes have nothing to do with their ability or qualifications. It’s a pure stream of hatred and invective.
Aside from his hatred, lewdness, and blatant dishonesty, aside from the fact that he has advocated for torture and war crimes, aside from his obvious hatred of women, Trump is the precise opposite of the teachings of Jesus.
Trump is, quite literally, an anti–Christ. He stands in direct opposition to everything Jesus Christ taught us to do. Pope Francis was right when he said that “a person who thinks only about building walls … and not of building bridges, is not Christian.”
Trump tells us that we must fear and hate our enemies. Jesus tells us to love and forgive our enemies, and to radically resist oppression by turning the other cheek.
Trump is a xenophobic hate–monger who tells us to ostracize or exile those who look different, who act different, who believe different. We should barricade them behind a wall. Jesus tells us that all people are our neighbors, and that our example is the Good Samaritan who sacrificially brought aid to a stranger.
Trump is a bully who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Jesus calls on us to love our neighbours and to put ourselves in their place as we seek to try and understand them.
I understand how powerful Trump’s appeal can be. He wants to “Make America Great Again”, appealing to the fear and loss that Americans have felt as the American Empire dwindles in the eye of the world. It’s the same demagoguery practiced by Hitler, who promised that the Third Reich would last for 1,000 years. Germany would no longer be weak.
In the same way, Americans feel threatened, and they want someone who can promise them security. Trump does that, he exposes the ugly underbelly of America’s greedy for power, for control, for prestige, for wealth, for domination.
But Jesus invites us to walk a different path.
Jesus teaches us to love our enemies, to welcome those who are different than us, to walk in the ways of reconciliation rather than the ways of estrangement and alienation. Jesus invited us to knock walls down rather than building them up. Jesus reached out to the whole world with a message of radical love and inclusion.
For Jesus, there are no outsiders. None are beyond the reach of love. None can resist God’s grace and love. We can’t write anyone off as being unimportant. All people, all creatures, are included within what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the beloved community.”
Trump proclaims the bad news of white supremacy and misogyny and xenophobia. He hates those who are different than us. Trump believes he can bully those who are weaker or those who cannot speak for themselves.
Jesus reminds us again and again that in God’s economy, no single person, no single creature, is expendable. In God’s economy, all are welcome. In God’s economy, the rich are called precisely to take care of those who are tired or poor or anxious or homeless.
Trump believes that only those who make it on their own are worth anything. “I’m very rich, you know,” he proudly proclaims. And every act he does, every word he speaks, goes on to indicate that everyone who isn’t rich is worthless.
As for me, I’ll subscribe to #NeverTrump. The guy is just plain scary.
Yme Woensdregt is Pastor at Christ Church Anglican in Cranbrook