Thursday, January 25, 2018

Have Trump Supporters Killed Christianity?

That's what Miguel de la Torre says.  At least in the US: 

See the source image
A typical evangelical worship service. 
"Christianity has died in the hands of Evangelicals. Evangelicalism ceased being a religious faith tradition following Jesus’ teachings concerning justice for the betterment of humanity when it made a Faustian bargain for the sake of political influence. The beauty of the gospel message — of love, of peace and of fraternity — has been murdered by the ambitions of Trumpish flimflammers who have sold their souls for expediency. No greater proof is needed of the death of Christianity than the rush to defend a child molester in order to maintain a majority in the U.S. Senate."

Miguel isn't the first liberal Christian to express concerns in such rhetoric.  While I did not vote for Donald Trump, and indeed wrote an e-book in the vain hope of stopping him in the primaries, after the election I responded to such worries at The Stream.  

But De La Torre is exceptionally overwrought.
(1) Do "evangelicals" really have the power to kill "Christianity?"  Wouldn't Catholicism at least survive the apocalypse?  What about Christians who are not white evangelicals?  Shouldn't a remnant survive among the black churches, even on his End-Times premises? 

(2) Was Jesus mainly teaching "justice for the betterment of humanity?"  No doubt justice and progress were in there somewhere, but I seem also to remember other teachings about loving your enemies, for instance.  To whom would that apply in Mr. De La Torre's case?    

(3) I met a lot of evangelical Trump voters last fall, as I traveled around the US speaking on Jesus is No Myth.  But what they most often expressed concern about, the reason they said they were going to vote for the man, was to save the lives of unborn children.  Is the devil really in favor of that?  Last I recall, it was God who got mad when idolaters sacrificed babies to the gods.  So far as that goes, seems to me those voters were on the side of the unfallen angels. 

(4)  Roy Moore LOST.  That is quite an achievement for a Republican in the state of Alabama.   Would a Democrat lose to a Republican in Washington State if forty years ago, he had dated a teenage girl?  Are you kidding?  The last mayor of Seattle won despite (apparently true) allegations of abusing boys.  

I doubt if Moore had really enjoyed the solid support of evangelicals that he could have lost that seat.  And that despite the fact that a Democratic Senator is bound to support the nomination of Supreme Court justices who will go along with the legal fiction that the Constitution disallows the states from passing laws against killing unborn children.  

(5) Yes Moore dated teenage girls when he was in his early 30s.  Yes he made passes at some of them.  And Mohammed married a 9 year old girl when he was in his 50s, yet you also identify fear of the religion he founded, and that continues such practices by law in some Islamic countries, as a "phobia." 

Maybe I'm wrong: I haven't followed all the details.  But it seems to me that you have to stretch things pretty far to describe the Moore of 40 years later as a "child molester" based on those early, consensual dates.  And I think we should be careful about calling people that name: use it too often, and it looses potency where it is needed.  

De La Torre is on a tear, though: 

"Evangelicals have constructed an exclusive interpretation which fuses and confuses white supremacy with salvation. Only those from the dominant culture, along with their supposed inferiors who with colonized minds embrace assimilation, can be saved. But their salvation damns Jesus. To save Jesus from those claiming to be his heirs, we must wrench him from the hands of those who use him as a façade from which to hide their phobias — their fear of blacks, their fear of the undocumented, their fear of Muslims, their fear of everything queer.'
(6) Which evangelicals have "fused white supremacy with salvation?"  What is this man even talking about?  I've been to hundreds of evangelical churches around the world (with fellow believers of all colors -- this morning's worship here in China was led by a group composed of about 70% Zimbabweans 30% Americans), and have never run into even a hint of such nonsense.
Isn't it a bit odious to glibly accuse a whole class of Christians -- big enough to destroy Christianity, so we must not be talking about a few fringe cases - of such awful crimes?
(7) Given that more than 60% of Christians in the world today live outside of Europe and North America now, where does De la Torre get off implying that such believers have "colonized minds?"   In my little cohort at the Oxford Centre for Missions Studies where I worked on my PhD, we had an Indian working in Japan, a Romanian, a Burmese, a Nigerian, an English, and Americans working in China (me) and Romania.  Dozens of countries were represented in our meetings, as we sang  one another's songs, read one another's articles, critiqued and received criticism.  If my work was supervised by a Chinese in Hong Kong and an Indian in Calcutta, then critiqued by an Indian from Kenya teaching at the University of Bristol, the thought never even crossed my mind that anything was amiss, still less that I was the colonizer and my supervisors and critics those colonized.  
What a small, sad little world Mr. De La Torre seems to live in. 
(8) Fear of Islam?  The premise is that there is nothing to fear in Islam.  Is that because ideologies in general never hurt people?  Or that in his career of aggressive conquest, rape, enslaving, and assassination, Mohammed in particular set no worrisome example for the likes of Osama bin Laden to follow?
Why are evangelicals evil because some supported a 34 year old who once dated (not raped) a 14 year old, and also evil because they don't support a 53 year old who raped (not dated) a nine-year-old?  
Anyway, calling the fear a "phobia" begs the question. 
(9) "Fear of the undocumented?"  Is the assumption that nations have no right to enforce their borders?  Or does that rule only apply to one nation?  
(10) Given that radical "queers" have taken to driving Christians out of business for not affirming their unions, it appears fear in some cases is justified.
(11) I think De La Torre just adds "fear of blacks" because he wants to build a coalition against evangelicals, and that kind of coalition (otherwise known as a lynch mob) is best assembled in this way.   
De La Torre tears on: 
"Evangelicalism has ceased to be a faith perspective rooted on Jesus the Christ and has become a political movement whose beliefs repudiate all Jesus advocated.  A message of hate permeates their pronouncements, evident in sulphurous proclamations like the Nashville Statement, which elevates centuries of sexual dysfunctionalities since the days of Augustine by imposing them upon Holy Writ. They condemn as sin those who express love outside the evangelical anti-body straight jacket."

(12) The "straightjacket" referred to here is the following horribly confining restriction from Nashville: 

"Our true identity, as male and female persons, is given by God." 

Because Jesus, as a good 21st Century Democrat, boldly and clearly affirmed that we have a right to make up our own gender identity.  

Oddly enough, on a recent visit to San Francisco, I noticed that airport restrooms even in that city are also likewise restricted to this oppressive binary choice.  When I worked on a Russian fishing ship, the biologist who was responsible for "sexing" the fish also Puritanically confined himself to categorizing them in just two ways.  

Maybe De La Terre should begin his revolution at SFO, or on a fishing boat.

(13) "Express love" here,  of course, means "sex."  The Nashville Statement never forbids anyone from washing dishes for your friend, or giving him a ride to the airport, or taking care of his kids while he's out with his wife -- means of expressing love which De La Torre seems to overlook. 

(14) "Sexual disfunction" appears to refer to life-long love between one man and one woman.  Proper function refers to, uh, putting round pegs in square . . . gee, it's hard to be vague enough to avoid being obscene, trying to explain what De La Terre thinks is proper sexual function.    

The preacher rolls on like a river: 

"Evangelicalism’s unholy marriage to the Prosperity Gospel justifies multi-millionaire bilkers wearing holy vestments made of sheep’s clothing who discovered being profiteers rather than prophets delivers an earthly security never promised by the One in whose name they slaughter those who are hungry, thirsty and naked, and the alien among them. Christianity at a profit is an abomination before all that is Holy.  From their gilded pedestals erected in white centers of wealth and power, they gaslight all to believe they are the ones being persecuted because of their faith."
(15) Translation: "Some preachers scam their flocks, as Jesus warned, and all those I disagree with in the Church support them in doing so.  (How dare you call me a liar!)  Also a bunch of poor people are getting murdered somewhere -- sorry I don't have time to tell you who or where, or report the murderers to the police -- take my word for it that the whole evangelical church is in on the crime."  
(16) "Also evangelicals are really powerful, and did I mention they're all white?"
(This pablum was shared by almost 27,000 people, can you believe it?) 
"Evangelicalism’s embrace of a new age of ignorance, blames homosexuality for Harvey’s rage rather than considering the scientific consequences climate change has on the number of increasing storms of greater and greater ferocity.  To ignore the damage caused to God’s creation so the few can profit in raping Mother Earth causes celebrations in the fiery pits of Gehenna."

(17)  Christopher Landsea says there's no measurable increase in hurricane frequency in recent decades, not related to Global Warming, anyway.  But what does he know?  He's just the Science and Operations Officer at the National Hurricane Center.  

(18) Hell rejoices because Mother Earth is being "raped" for the rich?  But what "few" is profiting from, say, oil extraction?  Does Mr. De La Terre own an automobile?  Is he raping Mother Earth?  Or perhaps that union should be counted as proper sexual function, since it doesn't involve anything so bourgeois as a man and a woman getting married?  

"Evangelicalism forsakes holding a sexual predator, an adulterer, a liar and a racist accountable, instead serving as a shield against those who question POTUS’ immorality because of some warped reincarnation of Cyrus.  Laying holy hands upon the incarnation of the very vices Jesus condemned to advance a political agenda — instead of rebuking and chastising in loving prayer — has prostituted the gospel in exchange for the victory of a Supreme Court pick."
(19) Whatever else De La Terre  may be, he is a crap writer: even purple prose shouldn't need Google Translator to make sense.  What is that first sentence supposed to mean?  De La Terre seems to think eloquence means laying allusions on with a trowel until they stiffen into concrete and topple on the reader and crush his cranium. 
(20) I didn't vote for Trump, but I'm glad we have an honest man in the Supreme Court who will interpret, not make, the law, and probably won't pretend the Constitution sanctifies baby-killing.  (There, now I'm going purple!  It's catching!)
"Evangelicalism either remained silent or actually supported Charlottesville goose steppers because they protect their white privilege with the doublespeak of preserving heritage, leading them to equate opponents of fascist movements with the purveyors of hatred.  Jesus has yet recovered from the vomiting induced by the Christian defenders of torch-wielding white nationalists calling for “blood-and-soil.”
(21) De La Terre should have his mouth washed out with soap for the phrase "evangelicalism remained silent or supported goose steppers."  Such an ugly abstraction cannot speak or not speak: it is a reification.  
But I don't know anyone who had anything good to say about the Nazis in Charlottesville, or anywhere else.  If De La Terre has located such a clown, good for him: I've located a De La Terre, shared by 27,000 left-wingers, to balance his absurdities out:  
"The Evangelicals’ Jesus is satanic, and those who hustle this demon are “false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve” (2 Cor. 11:13-15, NIV).

(22) Now American evangelicals are all going to go to hell.  And you thought the Westboro Baptists were nasty.  

"You might wonder if my condemnation is too harsh. It is not, for the Spirit of the Lord has convicted me to shout from the mountaintop how God’s precious children are being devoured by the hatred and bigotry of those who have positioned themselves as the voice of God in America."
(23) Now evangelicals are not only killing people in the streets (but not, De La Terre does not claim, in the womb), we are eating them as well.  And the Spirit of God, which once seemed to be against homosexual acts and the killing of babies, has revealed this to our dear brother Miguel.  
Would it be crazy of me to suppose Miguel's conscience might be bothering him in some way?  
"As a young man, I walked down the sawdust aisle at a Southern Baptist church and gave my heart to Jesus. Besides offering my broken heart, I also gave my mind to understanding God, and my arm to procuring God’s call for justice. I have always considered myself to be an evangelical, but I can no longer allow my name to be tarnished by that political party masquerading as Christian. Like many women and men of good will who still struggle to believe, but not in the evangelical political agenda, I too no longer want or wish to be associated with an ideology responsible for tearing humanity apart. But if you, dear reader, still cling to a hate-mongering ideology, may I humbly suggest you get saved."

So repent and feel the Bern!  By supporting Donald Trump (to some extent), we have lost this gentle brother from the Church of Evangelicalism!  

But welcome to the club -- sort of.    

I personally do not particular identify as an "evangelical."  I think of myself, beyond my deserts, and often beyond even my honest wishes, to be a follower of Jesus.  I find my fellow believers on the Right and Left, in Catholic and Orthodox churches as well as in Assembly of God, Foursquare, Southern Baptist, PC-USA, Methodist, home churches here in China and the Three Self, High Church and Low Church, several believers in the school where I work whose politics and whose denominational affiliations I have never even thought to ask.  

Humanity is already torn apart already.  We Christians do not always solve that problem.  People in churches, like people everywhere, like to argue, and often get into fights.  

But I don't see anything in this post by Mr. De La Terre that is humble or kind or understanding or fair and helpful.  Certainly nothing that brings people on different sides of important issues together.  Miguel literally, not figuratively, demonizes those he disagrees with.  We are murderers (just not of babies) and cannibals and racists and everything vile and evil.  

I look around me, and I see Christians -- evangelical Christians -- who vote Republican and paint peoples' houses and fix pipes, who bring meals to the hungry.  Arthur Brooks tells me that those who go to church regularly give four times as much to charity as those who do not in the United States.  Most of them vote for the Party of Lincoln.  I have seen that generosity and that Christ-likeness in many (of course not all) who attend evangelical churches.  I have no trouble believing it is also true of many Christians on the left, and in other churches.  

The weird thing is, De La Terre actually thinks he stands against hatred.  Many of his other columns, in their purple prose, boldly take that stand:

"Hatred has won."  (Meaning Republicans.)

"I refuse to base my actions (dancing in the street when Fidel Castro died) on hatred."

Yet his writing is a sticky, gooey, gloppy mass of vitriol.  A large, eager market for hostility is the only explanation I can find for why so vitriolic a glop of cyber-ink as this column could prove so popular.

Indeed, De La Terre is a warning of the extremes of hatred to which polarized politics are pushing us these days.  Let us step back from the brink, and see each other with at least an attempt at understanding.  And let us not judge everyone on the other side by the sins of the worst. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is just another sign--one of many--that the populace of the US is so divided that no compromise can be reached. If you are even mildly on the right, these people will never stop calling you a racist, or a Nazi,or whatever else is the insult of the day until you bend the knee to their cause. So they must either be stopped or separated from. I choose the latter and the sooner it comes the better.