FYI: I apparently lost 2 regular readers over this essay.
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision...
Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. Psalm 2:1,4,10-12
When do the ends justify the means?
When politics and religion cross, apparently.
Evangelical Christians are throwing caution - and the Gospel of our Savior - to the wind in their fervent devotion to right-wing politics. They've been fomented into this vigorous fervor by conservative talk radio hosts who earnestly predict the imminent downfall of the United States.
It doesn't help matters that, regardless of political party, America's presidential elections have already devolved into excruciating embarrassments of pugnacious narcissism. For a country as great as our leaders tell us it is, isn't it ironic that the only people who want to lead it tend to represent the worst aspects of our society?
I'm tired of the politics. I'm tired of the religious posturing. Aren't you? And haven't things gone from the absurd to the farcical when it comes to self-professing evangelicals and their adulation of Donald Trump?
Christianity's charlatans are coming out of the woodwork for New York City's boorish billionaire, and they're making a mockery of prayer, Scripture, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the process. Trump embodies no virtue that legitimate Christ-followers have historically required of their ideal presidential candidates. He's contemptuous of God, holy communion, salvation, and sin. He boasts of his serial adultery, he's publicly admitted to lusting after his own daughter, his business empire is built partly on casino revenue, and he's a flip-flopper on abortion. He's proudly rude, joyfully racist, profanely conceited, and always scrapping for a brawl.
Is this what America's Founding Fathers envisioned as leadership for a country that "trusts" in God?
Can I get an "Amen!"?
Nevertheless, this past weekend, in Iowa, the controversial senior pastor of Dallas' influential First Baptist Church practically violated his ministry's charitable status by pseudo-endorsing Trump at a Dordt College rally. Jeffress and a bevy of other bold-name Christian pastors - including Kenneth Copeland, Paula White, and David Jeremiah - had already prostituted their faith on Trump's behalf at an invitation-only forum and prayer meeting last September in New York.
Then Tuesday, the eponymous son of his father's generation of "moral majority" firebrands, Jerry Falwell, endorsed Trump.
Their reason for doing so? Falwell's son justified his endorsement of Trump by describing him as "a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again." As if America's greatness is a Biblical excuse for overlooking everything that is blatantly wrong about somebody like Trump - of any political persuasion - in the White House.
Jeffress' excuse was similarly devoid of theological integrity. Trump "is the one leader who can reverse the downward death spiral of this nation we love so dearly," Jeffress effused, using the conservative fear factor of America's cataclysmic demise as his scapegoat. So much for mankind looking at outward appearances, while God looks at the heart. That's in Scripture somewhere, isn't it, pastors Jeffress and Falwell?
According to these Christian leaders, the "end" towards which their means are focused is selecting a president who can save America from itself. Despite the reality that, after all, every president we've ever elected has been voted into office by a majority of Americans... which means it's not just a president's fault when things go badly for our country.
And these Christian leaders obviously believe that since the "end" for which Trump is suitable represents such an important prize, it's worth running roughshod over the Gospel and the qualities God expects of people in leadership. The ends justify the means.
Hey, you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette. I guess two wrongs do make a right. Trump can even propose suspending our freedom of religion, and some of the biggest lights in America's evangelical firmament still view the megalomaniac as our savior.
It's been said that a democratic republic elects the representation it deserves. Shouldn't that send chills up your spine?
If these Christian pulpiteers fear the imminent demise of America, they've anointed the right candidate to bring that about.