RELIGION: Gary Silverman In Financial Times: How White Evangelicals Traded The Mercy & Hope Of Jesus Christ For The False “Profit” Donald Trump!

https://www.ft.com/content/b41d0ee6-1e96-11e7-b7d3-163f5a7f229c

Silverman writes:

“Trump’s efforts to reach evangelicals during the campaign were marred by technical difficulties. After an appearance at Liberty University in Virginia, which was founded by Falwell, Trump was lampooned for quoting from a section of the Bible he called “Two Corinthians”, rather than “Second Corinthians”, as would customarily be done. Ultimately, Liberty University split over Trump. Its current president, Jerry Falwell Jr, endorsed his candidacy. But Mark DeMoss, a member of the university’s board of trustees and a former chief of staff for the elder Falwell, objected and resigned as a trustee. In a Washington Post interview last year, DeMoss described Trump’s rhetoric as antithetical to Christian values.

“Donald Trump is the only candidate who has dealt almost exclusively in the politics of personal insult,” DeMoss said. “The bullying tactics of personal insult have no defence — and certainly not for anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ. That’s what’s disturbing to so many people. It’s not [the] Christ-like behaviour that Liberty has spent 40 years promoting with its students.”

Nonetheless, Trump was backed by 81 per cent of white voters who identified themselves as evangelical Christians, more than recent Republican candidates such as Mitt Romney and John McCain, according to the Pew Research Center, and more even than George W Bush, whose strategist Karl Rove made wooing them a priority of the campaign. Analysts say Trump made evangelicals an offer that they could not refuse. Unlike his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton — who was both disliked by conservatives and uncompromising in her support of a woman’s right to choose — Trump pledged to appoint an anti-abortion justice to fill the vacancy on a Supreme Court that was split between conservatives and liberals.

The white evangelical flight to Trump has caused “deep heartbreak” for “evangelicals of colour” who see him as a bigot, says Jim Wallis, a progressive evangelical leader in Washington. “It’s the most painful divide I have seen in the churches since the beginning of the civil rights movement.”

. . . .

But that’s not the way things look at the house on a hill in Auburn, Alabama, where Wayne Flynt lives with his wife of 55 years, Dorothy. As evangelical Christianity has grown more successful in the political realm, Flynt fears that it has been reduced to a sum of its slogans. Lost in the transition, he says, is the traditional evangelical standard for sizing up candidates — “personal moral character”, which includes such criteria as marital fidelity, church attendance and kindness.

“No one I know of would argue that Donald Trump inculcates moral character,” Flynt says. “What has happened to American Christianity is there is this afterglow of what a candidate is supposed to represent. It’s no longer moral character. It’s policy positions on things that bother evangelicals.”

Flynt says evangelical Christians are mainly mobilising against the sins they either do not want to commit (homosexual acts) or cannot commit (undergoing an abortion, in the case of men). They turn a blind eye toward temptations such as adultery and divorce that interest them. In 2010, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution calling the rising incidence of divorce among its members a “scandal”. A Pew Research Center study in 2015 found that evangelical Protestants in the US were more likely to be divorced or separated than Catholics, Jews, Muslims or atheists.

“Jesus says four times in four different places: do not divorce,” Flynt says. “Does divorce bother evangelicals? No, absolutely not. Does adultery bother evangelicals? No, not really, because if so they wouldn’t have voted for Donald Trump. So what bothers them? Abortion and same-sex marriage. Beyond that, there’s no longer an agenda.”

Flynt, who left the Southern Baptist Convention in 1979 to protest its turn to the right, notes ruefully that his former denomination has lost members for nine years in a row.

Into this religious void, he believes, stepped Trump, an unabashed materialist and hedonist — “What is right to Donald Trump is what gives him pleasure,” Flynt says — who thinks that he alone can make America great again.

“To be sure, every politician has some element of narcissism, but he has perfected narcissism, he has made it the supreme element of his life, and not only that, evangelicals have responded in an almost messianic way that he is the saviour, which makes him feel really good because he does believe he is the saviour,” Flynt says. “It is kind of curious evangelicals would not be offended by this. I am as an American Christian. I’m offended because I already thought following Jesus was going to make us great again.”

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Whatever happened to the Christian message of humanity, humility, faith, self-sacrifice, generosity to all, mercy, forgiveness, understanding, peace, elevating the spiritual over the material, and grace? I hear those things from Pope Francis (although I’m not a Catholic). But, not from Trump and his zealots. Go figure!

PWS

06-25-17

NYT Sunday Maggie: The “Deportation Resistance” In Trump’s America — Re-energized Or Outgunned? — The “country woke up in Arizona!”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/magazine/is-it-possible-to-resist-deportation-in-trumps-america.html?em_pos=medium&emc=edit_ma_20170525&nl=magazine&nl_art=1&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

Marcela Valdes writes:

“On Monday, Feb. 6, two days before Guadalupe García Aguilar made headlines as the first person deported under President Donald Trump’s new executive orders on immigration, she and her family drove to the modest stucco offices of Puente, an organization that represents undocumented immigrants. It was a postcard day: warm and dry, hovering around 70 degrees, the kind of winter afternoon that had long ago turned Phoenix into a magnet for American retirees and the younger, mostly Latin American immigrants who mulch their gardens and build their homes.
García Aguilar and her family — her husband and two children — squeezed together with four Puente staff members into the cramped little office that the group uses for private consultations. Carlos Garcia, Puente’s executive director, had bought a fresh pack of cigarettes right before the talk; he needed nicotine to carry him through the discomfort of telling García Aguilar that she would almost certainly be deported on Wednesday. Until that moment, she and her family had not wanted to believe that the executive orders Trump signed on Jan. 25 had made her expulsion a priority. She had been living in the United States for 22 years, since she was 14 years old; she was the mother of two American citizens; she had missed being eligible for DACA by just a few months. Suddenly, none of that counted anymore.
García Aguilar’s troubles with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began in 2008, after police raided Golfland Sunsplash, the amusement park in Mesa, Ariz., where she worked. She spent three months in jail and three months in detention. (ICE booked her under the last name “García de Rayos.”) In 2013, an immigration court ordered her removal. Yet under pressure from Puente, which ultimately filed a class-action lawsuit contending that Maricopa County’s work-site raids were unconstitutional, ICE allowed García Aguilar (and dozens of others) to remain in Arizona under what is known as an order of supervision. ICE could stay her removal because the Obama administration’s guidelines for the agency specified terrorists and violent criminals as priorities for deportation. But Trump’s January orders effectively vacated those guidelines; one order specifically instructed that “aliens ordered removed from the United States are promptly removed.” García Aguilar, who had a felony for using a fabricated Social Security number, was unlikely to be spared.
Orders of supervision are similar to parole; undocumented immigrants who have them must appear before ICE officers periodically for “check-ins.” García Aguilar’s next check-in was scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 8. She had three options, Garcia explained. She could appear as usual and hope for the best. She could try to hide. Or she could put up a fight, either from a place of sanctuary or by appearing for her check-in amid media coverage that Puente would organize on her behalf. Whatever she decided, he said, she would be wise to spend Tuesday preparing for separation from her children.
The family was devastated. García Aguilar left the meeting red-faced with tears.
The next day a dozen activists gathered at Puente to strategize for García Aguilar’s case. After reviewing the logistics for the usual public maneuvers — Facebook post, news release, online petition, sidewalk rally, Twitter hashtag, phone campaign — they debated the pros and cons of using civil disobedience. In the final years of the Obama administration, activists in Arizona had come to rely on “C.D.,” as they called it, to make their dissatisfaction known. Puente members had blocked roads and chained themselves in front of the entrance to Phoenix’s Fourth Avenue Jail. Yet Francisca Porchas, one of Puente’s organizers, worried about setting an unrealistic precedent with its membership. “For Lupita we go cray-cray and then everyone expects that,” she said. What would they do if Puente members wanted them to risk arrest every time one of them had a check-in?
Ernesto Lopez argued that they needed to take advantage of this rare opportunity. A week earlier, thousands of people had swarmed airports around the country to protest the executive order barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations. “There’s been a lot of conversation about the ban, but for everything else it’s dead,” Lopez said. “Nobody is talking about people getting deported. In a couple of months, it won’t be possible to get that media attention.”
Garcia wasn’t sure a rally for García Aguilar would work. “We’re literally in survival mode,” Garcia told me that week. It was too early to tell how ICE would behave under Trump, but they were braced for the worst. Nobody had a long-term plan yet. Even as he and his staff moved to organize the news conference, his mind kept running through the possibilities: Would it help García Aguilar stay with her family? Would it snowball into an airport-style protest? Would it cause ICE to double down on her deportation? He decided it was worth trying.
Shortly before noon on Wednesday, García Aguilar and her lawyer, Ray Ybarra Maldonado, entered ICE’s field office as supporters chanted “No está sola!” (You are not alone!) behind her. Telemundo, Univision and ABC shot footage. Supporters posted their own videos on Twitter and Facebook. ICE security warily eyed the scene. An hour later, Ybarra Maldonado exited ICE alone. García Aguilar had been taken into custody. All around the tree-shaded patio adjacent to ICE’s building, Puente members teared up, imagining the same dark future for themselves. Ybarra Maldonado filed a stay of deportation, and Porchas told everyone to come back later for a candlelight vigil.
That night a handful of protesters tried to block several vans as they sped from the building’s side exit. More protesters came running from an ICE decoy bus that had initially distracted those attending the vigil out front. Manuel Saldaña, an Army veteran who did two tours in Afghanistan, planted himself on the ground next to one van’s front tire, wrapping his arms and legs around the wheel. The driver looked incredulous; if he moved the van forward now, he would break one of Saldaña’s legs. Peering through the van windows with cellphone flashlights, protesters found García Aguilar sitting in handcuffs. The crowd doubled in size. “Those shifty [expletive],” Ybarra Maldonado said as he stared at the van. ICE, he said, had never notified him that her stay of deportation had been denied.
Four hours later, García Aguilar was gone. After the Phoenix Police arrested seven people and dispersed the crowd, ICE took her to Nogales, Mexico. By then images of García Aguilar and the protest were already all over television and social media. She and her children became celebrities within the immigrant rights movement. Carlos Garcia, who was with her in Nogales, told me that Mexican officials stalked her hotel, hoping to snag a photo. “Everyone wanted to be the one to help her,” he said. “Everyone wanted a piece.” Later that month, her children — Jacqueline, 14, and Angel, 16 — sat in the audience of Trump’s first address to Congress, guests of two Democratic representatives from Arizona, Raúl Grijalva and Ruben Gallego.
During the Obama years, most immigrant rights organizations focused on big, idealistic legislation: the Dream Act and comprehensive immigration reform, neither of which ever made it through Congress. But Puente kept its focus on front-line battles against police-ICE collaboration. For Garcia, who was undocumented until a stepfather adopted him at 16, the most important thing is simply to contest all deportations, without exception. He estimates that Puente has had a hand in stopping about 300 deportations in Arizona since 2012.
Ever since Arizona passed Senate Bill 1070, one of the toughest anti-undocumented bills ever signed into law, the state has been known for pioneering the kind of draconian tactics that the Trump administration is now turning into federal policy. But if Arizona has been a testing ground for the nativist agenda, it has also been an incubator for resistance to it. Among the state’s many immigrant rights groups, Puente stands out as the most seasoned and most confrontational. In the weeks and months following Election Day 2016 — as progressive groups suddenly found themselves on defense, struggling to figure out how to handle America’s new political landscape — Garcia was inundated with calls for advice. He flew around the country for training sessions with field organizers, strategy meetings with lawyers and policy experts and an off-the-record round table with Senators Dick Durbin and Bernie Sanders in Washington. A soft-spoken man with a stoic demeanor and a long, black ponytail, Garcia was also stunned by Trump’s victory. But organizers in Phoenix had one clear advantage. “All the scary things that folks are talking about,” he told me, “we’ve seen before.” On Nov. 9, he likes to say, the country woke up in Arizona.”

. . . .

On May 3, the day Arreola was to have been deported, Arreola and Andiola gathered with friends, family and supporters for a prayer breakfast at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Phoenix, which had offered to house Arreola if she chose sanctuary. Pastor James Pennington had been active in the fight for gay rights. The patio of First Congregational was decorated with several flags, including a rainbow flag, an Arizona state flag and an American flag. Inside the church, members of Puente and former members of ADAC formed a circle with several non-Hispanics who had only recently allied themselves with the undocumented. Standing together they recited Psalm 30 in Spanish:

Te ensalzaré, oh Señor, porque me has elevado, y no has permitido que mis enemigos se rían de mi.

I’ll praise you, Lord, because you’ve lifted me up. You haven’t let my enemies laugh at me.

Yet their enemies remained hard at work. A week later, Marco Tulio Coss Ponce, who had been living in Arizona under an order of supervision since 2013, appeared at ICE’s field office in Phoenix with his lawyer, Ravindar Arora, for a check-in. ICE officers, Arora said, knew that Coss Ponce was about to file an application for asylum — several of his relatives had been recently killed or threatened by the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico — and they had assured Arora several times that Coss Ponce would not be removed. They said he simply needed to wear an ankle monitor to make sure he didn’t disappear. The fitting was delayed several times until finally Arora had to leave to argue a case in court. After he departed, ICE officers handcuffed Coss Ponce and put him in a van, alone. Three hours later, he was in Nogales.”

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Read the entire, very lengthy but worthwhile, article at the link.

Wow, can’t help but think “what if” all the energy, emotion, and activity on both sides of the immigration issue were re-directed at working together to “make America greater,” rather than engaging in a dangerous, counterproductive “grown up” game of hide and seek aimed at intimidating and removing productive members of American society who aren’t causing anyone any particular harm!

I’ve got some bad news for “the enforcers.” The U.S. families of most of the deportees aren’t going anywhere. And, there will be a steep price to pay in future generations for intentionally alienating some of America’s “best and brightest,” and our hope for the future as a nation.

Actions have consequences. Hate and disrespect aren’t quickly forgotten. Witness that even today, more than a century after the event, we’re still struggling as a nation with the misguided and hateful cause that created the short-lived “Confederate States of America,” killed hundreds of thousands of Americans of all races, and ruined millions of lives.

Something to think about on Memorial Day.

PWS

05-29-17

U.S. Kids Rally At White House Against Trump’s Deportation Agenda — “Don’t make us orphans in our own country!”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/immigrant-kids-white-house-protest_us_58f0069ee4b0da2ff85f9183?r9b&ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Michael McAuliffe reports in HuffPost:

“WASHINGTON — American children whose parents are undocumented immigrants brought a heartrending plea to the White House and President Donald Trump on Thursday: Don’t make us orphans in our own country.

The kids, among dozens who were organized by the group We Belong Together, fear that Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration could deport their parents, even if they haven’t run afoul of the law in any other way.

Deportations dramatically increased during the Obama administration, but the focus was on immigrants who had committed serious crimes. The Trump administration’s orders stepping up enforcement include just about anyone.

Those undocumented immigrants often have American children. And they are afraid.

“I live with the fear of being separated from my mother every day,” said Leah, an 11-year-old from Miami whose mother is a domestic worker facing a deportation order.

“It is like when somebody you care about can die at any moment,” she added, standing outside the White House, accompanied by activists and other kids.  “Why can’t I just enjoy being a kid? I cannot sleep or do my homework. All I can think about is my mother being taken away from me. I am so worried about my life.”

A mom of two children who is in hiding narrowly avoided likely deportation in February, when she sought sanctuary in a Denver chuch. Jeanette Vizguerra, who has reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement regularly for 20 years while she sought a visa to escape violence in Mexico, fled a hearing on her case when her advocates noticed a squad of police apparently ready to arrest her.

“My mom has been going through the struggle of getting threatened and us getting scared by ICE,” said her son, Roberto, 10.

I think it’s not fair for children to be living in fear or for parents not to be able to be with their children,” said her daughter, Luna, 12.

While those children and others all spoke of the worry they have of their own government, they also declared they would not relent in their bids to keep their families and other kids’ families whole.

“I want to tell Mr. Trump that he is a bully, and no matter how mean he is, and no matter how hard he tries, he will never break out spirit,” Leah said. “We are not afraid of you.”

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What kind of country makes “orphans of their own children?” What kind of national values do these “instill fear” programs represent? Whatever happened to the positive national values set forth by FDR and JFK?

Way back before there were Presidents, an inspirational leader once said:

“Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Luke 18:16

Not a bad thing to think about on Good Friday and over Easter weekend.

Sadly, some of today’s leaders seem to have shifted the message to “let me make the little children suffer.” Wonder what He would have thought about that?

PWS

04-14-17

RELIGION/POLITICS/REFUGEES: Pope Francis Puts Migrants’ Lives First — World’s Top Catholic Stands Tall Against Those Who Would Shun Most Vulnerable — Pence’s Values Might Bar Meeting With Women, But Haven’t Stopped Him From Supporting Policies That Hurt Refugees, Migrants, Transgender Children, Gays, The Sick, The Poor, The Starving, Many Women & Almost All Other Vulnerable People! Big Time Disconnect!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/how-pope-francis-is-leading-the-catholic-church-against-anti-migrant-populism/2017/04/10/d3ca5832-1966-11e7-8598-9a99da559f9e_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-more-top-stories_no-name%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.1dbd72f3d9a0

Anthony Faiola and Sarah Pulliam Bailey report in the Washington Post:

“VATICAN CITY — As politicians around the world including President Trump take an increasingly hard line on immigration, a powerful force is rallying to the side of migrants: the Roman Catholic Church led by Pope Francis.

Catholic cardinals, bishops and priests are emerging as some of the most influential opponents of immigration crackdowns backed by right-wing populists in the United States and Europe. The moves come as Francis, who has put migrants at the top of his agenda, appears to be leading by example, emphasizing his support for their rights in sermons, speeches and deeds.

The pro-migrant drive risks dividing Catholics — many of whom in the United States voted for Trump. Some observers say it is also inserting the church into politics in a manner recalling the heady days of Pope John Paul II, who stared down communism and declared his opposition to the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The Vatican is standing in open opposition to politicians like Trump not just on immigration but also on other issues, including climate-change policy.

But the focal point is clearly migrant rights.
In the United States, individual bishops, especially those appointed by Francis, have sharply criticized Trump’s migrant policies since his election. They include Newark Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, who last month co-led a rally in support of a Mexican man fighting deportation. Tobin has decried Trump’s executive orders on immigration, calling them the “opposite of what it means to be an American.”

In Los Angeles, Archbishop José H. Gomez, the first Mexican American vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which leads the U.S. church, described migrant rights as the bishops’ most important issue. He has delivered blistering critiques of Trump’s policies, and instructed his clerics to distribute cards in English, Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese informing migrants of their rights in 300 parishes .
Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, one of Francis’s closest allies in the U.S. church, has issued orders that if federal immigration authorities should attempt to enter churches without a warrant in search of migrants, priests should turn them away and call the archdiocese’s lawyers. Catholic school principals were given the same instructions by the archdiocese, which Cupich said was an attempt to respond in a way that was firm “but not extreme.”

He said Francis has helped bishops shape their response.

“The pope makes it a lot easier for me to be a bishop because he’s very clear in his teaching, and [on] this one in particular, he’s trying to awaken the conscience of the citizens of the world,” Cupich said.

Francis has long been an advocate of migrants — kicking off his papacy in 2013 with a trip to an Italian island used as a waypoint for migrants desperate to enter Europe. In a highly public spat early last year, Francis and Trump exchanged barbs — with Francis declaring that anyone who wants to build walls “is not Christian.”

. . . .

Those who have the pope’s ear say Francis is seeking to counter anti-migrant policies by appealing directly to voters.

“I don’t think the pope is challenging [the politicians]. I think he is challenging their supporters, both those who actively support them and those who passively allow their policies to happen,” said the Rev. Michael Czerny, undersecretary of the Vatican’s new Section for Refugees and Migrants, which opened in January, just before Trump took office. Czerny reports directly to the pope — a sign of the importance of the new office.

“Mr. Trump or Ms. Le Pen are not the root of the problem,” Czerny continued. “The root of the problem is the fear, selfishness and shortsightedness that motivate people to support them.”

. . . .

He [William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore] added that previous popes have taken similar positions as Francis on immigration. But, Lori added, Francis is “perhaps more dramatic.” His trips, such as his 2016 visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, also connected his stance on migrants to politics.
“The poor is the hallmark of his papacy,” Lori said. “It will affect our priorities and it should.”

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Meanwhile, Carla Gardina Pestana writes about “Arrogant Christians in the White House” in HuffPost:

“Mike Pence, the fundamentalist Christian whose views are so extreme that he cannot be alone with a woman other than his wife, and Donald Trump, who brags about sexually assaulting women and famously stumbled over an attempt to quote a biblical passage while on the campaign trail, seem to hold wildly divergent religious views. Yet both adhere to variations of Christianity inflected with arrogance. Together they represent two troubling trends in American Christianity, trends which appear to prove all the complaints secular liberals ever leveled against Christians.

Pence adheres to biblical literalism. Put simply, this view asserts that the Bible is a transparent document, one that prescribes specific behavioral guidelines. Glossing over the fact that the Bible is a complex text built of ancient fragments brought together by human hands, that it does not speak directly to many modern issues, and that even on its own terms it encompasses numerous contradictions, these Christians confidently declare that the Bible provides clear guidance for every Christian. Literalists arrived at this position only relatively late in Christian history, in response to various challenges from many quarters, including biblical scholarship, advances in science, and a rise in unbelief. Cutting through the complexities and the need to make choices, literalists declared all choice to be false and all discussion to be error. It was a comforting if simplistic and authoritarian solution to the problem of uncertainty.

Its arrogance lies in the hubris of those who believe that only their chosen answers are correct. Its potential to harm others comes when adherents gain political power and force their mandates on nonbelievers. One of the many dangers emanating out of the Trump White House is the power of Pence to impose not his religion but the behaviors his religion dictates onto the rest of us. Women’s rights and gender equality are on Pence’s hit list.

Trump’s religion, although very different, is similarly alarming. Unsurprisingly Trump accepts a religious viewpoint that tells him he is uniquely awesome. Whatever he has—however he acquired it—God wants him to enjoy to the fullest. Although traditional Christian social practice mandates that believers exercise humility, charity and other virtues that put others before self, Trump’s faith rejects all curbs on self-indulgence and self-aggrandizement. This religious position, known as Prosperity Theology, is newer than Pence’s literalism. It preaches that God wants the rich to be not only rich but selfish. Its attraction to a man like Trump—born to wealth, selfishly guided by his own desires, endlessly demanding that others adore him but never judge him—is transparent.

. . . .

Pence’s arrogance leads him to believe that he knows exactly what God wants us all to do and that he ought to force that on us if he has the power to do so. Trump’s faith simply endorses his own self-regard, elevating his personal whims to God’s desires. The political marriage of the two men is obviously one of expedience, given the great disparities in their beliefs and goals. Yet between them, they can do a great deal of damage. Arrogant self-righteousness and egotistical self-regard together wield power over the rest of us.

Little wonder that the pope has been modeling Christian humility and singing the praises of Christian charity, or that the supporters of these two find his lessons in what it means to be a Christian so infuriating.”

Read the complete article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/arrogant-christians-in-the-white-house_us_58e94a6fe4b06f8c18beec89?

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Also, Allen Clifton writing in Forward Progressives quotes the views of Pastor John Pavlovitz taking Trump and the GOP to task for hypocricy on Syrian refugees, a point that has been noted several times previously in this blog: 

“There are many things concerning Donald Trump that completely baffle me, but the fact that he’s strongly and enthusiastically supported by a party that comically portrays itself as representatives for “the Christian moral majority” is right near the top of my list. Of all the major candidates who ran for president from either party, Trump was, without a doubt, the least Christian of any of them. I haven’t viewed Republicans as actual Christians for years, but Trump’s rise to the top of the GOP cemented the fact that there’s nothing Christian about the Republican Party.
A great example of what I’m talking about is Trump and the GOP’s take on refusing to accept Syrian refugees. Innocent, desperate people, many of whom are women and children, fleeing a war-torn country hoping to escape a brutal dictator who, once again, just used chemical weapons against his own people. Not only have Trump and his fellow Republicans blatantly vilified these poor people as a means of pandering to the bigotry that fuels their party, but they continually lied about the process refugees must endure before ever stepping foot on U.S. soil.
If you listen to Trump talk about the vetting process, he essentially said we never had one — which is an outright lie. Every refugee allowed into the United States endures a rigorous process that usually takes between 18-24 months to complete and these refugees never know where they’re actually going to end up. So it’s not as if some “undercover terrorist” can pose as a refugee, say they want to go to America, and they’re here in two weeks.
Nevertheless, it’s undeniable that Trump and the GOP have gone out of their way to demonize these poor people for political purposes.

That made it rather nauseating to watch Trump claim that the images of the victims of the most recent chemical weapons attack launched by Assad are what “moved” him to take action by ordering last week’s airstrike. Nothing like selling yourself as the party of “Christian values,” while vilifying and rejecting refugees, then claiming that the images of victims of a horrific chemical attack “moved you” — not to do everything you can to help people who need it — but to fire 59 Tomahawk missiles at an airbase that was up-and-running within a few hours of the attack.

I’m sorry, but you can’t claim you’re “moved” by the sickening images of what’s going on in Syria when your administration’s policy is to reject helping thousands of refugees desperately trying to flee the carnage that’s plagued that nation for over six years now.

That’s also along the lines of what North Carolina Pastor John Pavlovitz said in a recent blog post:
‘This is the human collateral damage of what Donald Trump’s been selling for 16 months now. It is the cost in actual vibrant, beautiful lives, of the kind of incendiary rhetoric and alternative facts and Fox News truths that you’ve been fine with up until now. This is what you bought and paid for. Maybe not something this sadistic or explicitly grotesque, but the heart is the same: contempt for life that looks different and a desire to rid yourself of it.
I want to believe that you’re truly outraged, but honestly your resume is less than convincing.
Honestly, you didn’t seem all that broken up when Muslim families were handcuffed in airports a couple of months ago, or when mosques were being defaced, or when many of us were pleading the case for families fleeing exactlythe kind of monstrous atrocities you were apparently so moved by this week—and getting told to eat our bleeding hearts out by MAGA hat-wearing trolls. You weren’t all that concerned when your President told terrified, exhausted refugees to leave and go home—twice.'”

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Matthew 25:

44And they too will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45Then the King will answer, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.’ 46And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”…

PWS

04-11-17

 

LINDY WEST IN THE GUARDIAN: The Party of “No Care!” — With Trump & The GOP, There Are No Positives, Only Negatives!

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2017/mar/28/america-party-less-caring-21-century-republicans-gop?CMP=fb_gu

“I don’t know that America has ever seen a political party so divested of care. Since Trump took office, Republicans have proposed legislation to destroy unions, the healthcare system, the education system and the Environmental Protection Agency; to defund the reproductive health charity Planned Parenthood and restrict abortion; to stifle public protest and decimate arts funding; to increase the risk of violence against trans people and roll back anti-discrimination laws; and to funnel more and more wealth from the poorest to the richest. Every executive order and piece of GOP legislation is destructive, aimed at dismantling something else, never creating anything new, never in the service of improving the care of the nation.

Contemporary American conservatism is not a political philosophy so much as the roiling negative space around Barack Obama’s legacy. Can you imagine being that insecure? Can you imagine not wanting children to have healthcare because you’re embarrassed a black guy was your boss? It would be sad if it wasn’t so dangerous.

That void at the heart of the party, that loss of any tether to humanity, is breeding anxiety on both sides of the political divide. According to the Atlantic, Florida Republican Tom Rooney recently turned on his cohort with surprising lucidity: “I’ve been in this job eight years and I’m racking my brain to think of one thing our party has done that’s been something positive, that’s been something other than stopping something else from happening. We need to start having victories as a party. And if we can’t, then it’s hard to justify why we should be back here.”

Vindictive obstructionism, it seems, is not particularly nourishing for the soul.”

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West has a pretty good point.  Every day, the Administration repeals, cuts, removes, reduces, blocks, restricts, revokes, disses, insults, backs away from, abrogates, disputes, defunds, threatens, shrinks, deregulates, withdraws, withholds, threatens — only the rich and corporations “get” anything or are taken care of.  Everyone else is on his or her own with neither help nor encouragement from the Government. Or in the worst case, the most vulnerable among us, migrants, Muslims, the poor, gays, children, the sick, the disabled, are actually picked on, bullied, shamed, and blamed by Trump and his minions.

PWS

03/29/17

 

RELIGION: Pastor Corey Fields In Baptist News Global: Simple Term For Trump Budget: “Sin”

https://baptistnews.com/article/author/coreyfields/

Fields writes:

“More and more for machines that kill, less and less for things that invest in our future and enhance our society. There is a theological word for this kind of thing: sin.

Let me offer two important disclaimers. First, the above comparisons should not in any way be interpreted as a devaluing of our brave men and women in the armed services, nor disrespect for the incredible burden that they and their families bear, nor an illusion that we do not need a military. Secondly, I am not in any way suggesting that there is not waste and abuse present in other areas. Inefficiency is a constant problem in government, and no program holds the answers to all our society’s ills.

The above comparisons simply serve to illustrate a pretty obvious truth: we have a problem of priorities.

It is not just a question of politics and budgeting, however. It is spiritual issue. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

. . . .

Are we to become a gutted fortress with thick, fortified walls around the perimeter but with no way of life worth defending left on the inside? This is a spiritual issue, and our current reality is something against which Scripture paints an entirely different vision.

Outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York, there is a statue created by Evgeniy Vuchetich and gifted to us by the Soviet Union in 1959 as “a symbol and expression of the desire … for general disarmament.” The sculpture is a visual representation of the prophet Micah’s vision of God’s reign: “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” God has placed us here to proclaim and live this promise of a new world, what Jesus called “the kingdom of God.”

We have a spiritual problem. It is not a hidden problem; it is in plain sight in our budgets, priorities and rhetoric. But there is another vision, another way; and it’s up to the people of God to be its champion.”

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PWS

03/22/17

NYT OPINION: Nicholas Kristof — Paul Ryan Meets Jesus

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/03/16/opinion/and-jesus-said-unto-paul-of-ryan.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0&referer=http://m.facebook.com

“From everyone who has been given much,” Jesus told him, “much will be required.”

“Well, sure, this hospital would have a foundation to do some charity work. Maybe commissioning portraits of The Donald to hang in the entrance. But let’s drop this bleeding heart nonsense about health care as a human right, and see it as a financial opportunity to reward investors. In this partnership, 62 percent of the benefits would go to the top 0.6 percent — perfect for a health care plan.”

Jesus turned to Pious Paul on his left and said: “Be gone! For I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; and I was sick, and you did not help me.”

“But, Lord,” protested Pious Paul of Ryan, “when did I see you hungry or thirsty or sick and refuse to help you? I drop your name everywhere. And I’m pro-life!”

“Truly, I say to you,” Jesus responded, “as you did not help the homeless, the sick — as you did not help the least of these, you did not help me.”

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Read the full op-ed at the link.

PWS

03/16/17