Tag Archives: evangelical Christians

A Letter of Faith

A Trump supporter carries a Bible outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (Photo by John Minchillo, Associated Press)

Earlier this week more than 500 evangelical Christian faith leaders composed a letter denouncing “radicalized Christian nationalism” that many of the January 6 rioters used to descend upon the U.S. Capitol Building in an attempt to undermine certification of Joe Biden as the nation’s 46th President.  The statement is bold in its condemnation by actually calling out names of various entities now deemed as hate groups. This is the letter in its entirety:

Sign on: Evangelical Leaders Statement Condemning Christian Nationalism’s role in the January 6th Insurrection

Evangelical Leaders Statement
Condemning Christian Nationalism’s role in the Insurrection January 6

As leaders in the broad evangelical community, we recognize and condemn the role Christian Nationalism played in the violent, racist, anti-American insurrection at the United States Capitol on January 6.

We recognize the damage done by radicalized Christian Nationalism in the world, the church, and in the lives of individuals and communities.

We know from experts on radicalization that one of the key elements is a belief that your actions are “blessed by God” and ordained by your faith. This is what allows so many people who hold to a Christian Nationalism view to be radicalized.
While we come from varied backgrounds and political stances, we stand together against the perversion of the Christian faith as we saw on January 6, 2021. We also stand against the theology and the conditions that led to the insurrection.

Over the centuries, there are moments when the Church, the trans-national Body of Christ-followers, has seen distortions of the faith that warranted a response. In ages past, the Church has responded by holding emergency councils in order to unilaterally denounce mutations of the Christian faith, and to affirm the core values at the heart of Christianity. It is in that spirit that we unite our voices to declare that there is a version of American nationalism that is trying to camouflage itself as Christianity –  and it is a heretical version of our faith.

Just as many Muslim leaders have felt the need to denounce distorted, violent versions of their faith, we feel the urgent need to denounce this violent mutation of our faith. What we saw manifest itself in the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, is a threat to our democracy, but it is also a threat to orthodox Christian faith. The word “Christian” means “Christ-like.” As leaders in the Church, we do not agree on everything, but we can agree on this – Christians should live in a way that honors Jesus, and reminds the world of Him.

As Jesus himself said, “They will know that you are my disciples by the way you love” (John 13:35). No Christian can defend the unChristlike behavior of those who committed the violence on January 6. Not only was it anti-democratic, but it was also anti-Christian.

On January 6 we saw the flags claiming Trump’s name, calling for violence, and raising the name of Jesus. We saw images of a police officer being beaten with an American flag and another being crushed in a doorway. We know an officer was murdered in the act of insurrection. We witnessed the cross and the gallow being erected. We saw and heard the prayer the insurrectionists prayed from the Senate desk in Jesus’ name. Many of us recognized the content, the structure, and the style of that prayer as matching our own churches and faith.

But we reject this prayer being used to justify the violent act and attempted overthrow of the Government.

We have witnessed the rise of violent acts by radicalized extremists using the name of Christ for its validity in the past, including the deadly actions in Charlottesville in 2017. We join our voices to condemn it publicly and theologically.

We recognize that evangelicalism, and white evangelicalism in particular, has been susceptible to the heresy of Christian nationalism because of a long history of faith leaders accommodating white supremacy. We choose to speak out now because we do not want to be quiet accomplices in this on-going sin. But we also want to celebrate the long tradition of prophetic Christian witness in this nation that has challenged white supremacy and violent Christian nationalism. Though the KKK in the South claimed the symbol of a Christain cross, prophetic Black Christians formed and discipled children in Birmingham, Alabama who led a nonviolent witness in the face of dogs and firehoses. Though an appeal to “biblical values” has been used to demonize immigrants, undocumented Christians in America today have led a movement that insists upon the dignity and full humanity of all undocumented people. There is a powerful Christian witness for the common good in our past and in our present. White evangelicals in America can grow in faithfulness by following this cloud of witnesses, including the many white freedom-fighters who risked their lives standing up for love in the face of violence and hatred.

We urge all pastors, ministers, and priests to boldly make it clear that a commitment to Jesus Christ is incompatible with calls to violence, support of white Christian nationalism, conspiracy theories, and all religious and racial prejudice.

Just as it was tragically inconsistent for Christians in the 20th Century to support the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi ideology, it is unthinkable for Christians to support the Proud Boys, Oathkeepers, QAnon, 3 Percenters, America Firsters, and similar groups.

We urge faith leaders to engage pastorally with those who support or sympathize with these groups, and make it clear that our churches are not neutral about these matters: we are on the side of democracy, equality for all people, anti-racism, and the common good of all people.

Instead of seeing the United States as God’s chosen nation we thank God for the church around the world that calls people of all races, tongues and nations to the knowledge and love of God. Instead of seeing any particular political leader or party as divinely appointed, we believe in the prophetic and pastoral ministry of the church to all political leaders and parties. Instead of power through violence, we believe in and seek to imitate the powerful, servant love practiced by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Our faith will not allow us to remain silent at such a time as this. We are also aware that our world needs more than a statement right now… we need action.

Every one of the signers of this declaration is committed to taking concrete steps to put flesh on our words. We will combat bad theology with better theology. We will resist fear with love. We will tell the truth about our nation’s history.

We will seek to repair and heal the wounds of the past. We will seek racial justice on a personal, ecclesial, and systemic level. We will support organizations led by people of color. We will listen to and amplify the voices of people of faith who have been marginalized by the colonizing force of white supremacy and Christian Nationalism.

We will do our best to be faithful to Jesus, and to those Christ called “the least of these.”

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Dead Friend

Have you ever had a friend with whom you disagree on something?  You know what I mean – someone you’ve known for a while; shared things with; commiserated with; know some of their family; treated to lunch or dinner for their birthdays.  I have a few of those friends.  As a bonafide introvert, I don’t have many friends in the first place, so I value those relationships I’ve managed to maintain over any length of time.

I had one such friend, Pete*, until recently.  He and I have known each other for over 30 years.  Ironically, we attended the same parochial grade school in Dallas.  I didn’t know him back then, as he’s three years younger.  Even more curious is that our fathers had known each other; they grew up in the same East Dallas neighborhood and attended the same high school.  When Pete’s father died several years ago, my father was heartbroken, as the two hadn’t spoken in a while.  I attended the funeral service at a church in downtown Dallas.  In turn, Pete attended my father’s memorial service in 2016; his sister and her young daughter joined him.

Pete used to host annual Christmas gatherings at his apartment; his sister and her two sons, along with many of that family’s mutual friends, joining us.  In effect, I became part of their family.  I was fond of Pete’s parents, as he was of mine, and was truly excited when one of his nephews joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2006.

So what happened?

Politics.

Last month “The New Yorker” published an editorial on the sudden and unexpected support for Donald Trump among Latinos.  In Texas trump won a larger share of the Latino vote in the last election than he did in 2016.  Reading the piece left me stunned – and curious.  How could a man who made such derogatory comments about Mexicans in general, the same one who hurtled rolls of paper towels at people in Puerto Rico, find greater support from others in those same groups?  Even though Trump had disparaged Mexican immigrants, I felt it was just a small step away from demonizing all people of Mexican heritage or ethnicity; people whose Indian and Spanish ancestors had occupied what is now the Southwestern U.S. since before Trump’s predecessors arrived on the East Coast.  Many of those people are also among the nation’s working class; the blue collar workers who form the unappreciated and under-appreciated backbone of any society.  And yes, even the white collar workers, such as myself, who have struggled through the chaos of corporate America.  Regardless of race or ethnicity we’re the ones who suffered the most in the last Great Recession and in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  That an arrogant, elitist, tax-cheating buffoon of a charlatan can find kindred souls in this crowd truly boggles my mind.

Pete, on the other hand, said the editorial made “perfect sense” so him.  He had already expressed some support for Trump, especially in relation to his reactions to China.  He then went on to demonize both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris; dubbing them “evil” and decrying what he perceived to be their socialist agenda.  In other words, Pete was reiterating the paranoid mantra of right-wing extremists.

But he went further.  He bemoaned the stimulus payments coming out of Washington; claiming they were unnecessary and that anyone suffering financial distress during the pandemic and the ensuing economic downturn deserved no help or sympathy; that they should have prepared better for such a calamity.

Seriously?

I pointed out that I was one of those people struggling now.  I had taken off a lot of time to care for my aging parents and had managed to save some money over the years; adding that a lot of that hard-earned money was now gone and reminding him I have had trouble – like so many others – finding a job.  I also noted that it’s that people don’t or won’t save money; it’s that they can’t – not with both the high cost of living and stagnant wages.

Pete sounds like many evangelical Christian leaders – the folks he once denounced as the heathens of Christianity – the idiots who propagate the myth that poverty is a result of moral failings; that people choose to be poor because they have no desire to work hard and sacrifice.  He got upset with me over that; he – a devout Roman Catholic – being compared to an evangelical Christian?!  The people who read and study only half the Christian Bible?!  How dare I make such an analogy!

But that’s how I felt.  Then and now.  His new-found beliefs and sudden change of attitude are one reason why I left the Catholic Church and why I no longer align with any branch of Christianity.

I reiterated my discussions with Pete to friends and a relative who his both agnostic and generally conservative.  The latter considers himself a Republican and has been very successful in life.  He also subscribes to “The New Yorker” and had read that particular editorial.  And he found it “awful” that so many Texas Latinos supported Trump who he does not like.  He also noted that anyone can experience financial problems and that a lack of personal resources isn’t always a sign of any kind of moral failings.  Like me he was raised Roman Catholic, but – unlike me – is not in any way spiritual.  He also reassured me that I’m not a failure.  A few other friends have told me the same.  At times like this, I need that kind of support.

It’s a shame I felt the need to sever ties with Pete.  I mean, how does a 30-plus-year friendship come to an end over an editorial?  Is that something that needed to happen?  I wonder if I was overreacting or my past hyper-sensitive persona had suddenly resurrected itself.

I’d like to know if any of you folks have encountered the same dilemma.  Have you ever felt the need to end a friendship with someone over such strong personal disagreements?

*Name changed.

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Best Quote of the Week – January 17, 2020

“I usually get angry when members of my tribe worship at the feet of Trump.  This time, I just felt sad.”

John Fea, history professor at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA, describing his reaction to a Donald Trump rally at King Jesus International Ministry in Miami.

In his editorial, Fea went on to write: “I am used to this kind of thing from Trump, but I was stunned when I witnessed evangelical Christians – those who identify with the “good news” of Jesus Christ – raising their hands in a posture of worship as Trump talked about socialism and gun rights.  I watched my fellow evangelicals rising to their feet and pumping their fists when Trump said he would win reelection in 2020.  Trump spent the evening mocking his enemies, trafficking in half-truths in order to instill fear in people whom God commands to “fear not,” and proving that he is incapable of expressing anything close to Christian humility.”

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Worst Quote of the Week – January 10, 2020

“You know what?  Trump is a test whether you’re even saved.  Only saved people can love Trump.”

– TV evangelist Jim Bakker, the “Jim Bakker Show”

Bakker’s comment actually elicited a few laughs from the show’s studio audience.  Donald Trump – who has ingratiated himself with far-right Christians and somehow found Jesus squatting in the basement of his Manhattan skyscraper – once declared that he’d never asked God for forgiveness.  And, when you have that much money, who needs God?!

Those of us in the U.S. of a “Certain Age” vividly recall the Jim Bakker of the 1980s; the self-proclaimed preacher who, along with his perky makeup-clad wife, Tammy Fay, spent more time promoting his godly hotline seeking donations than actually preaching the word of God – whatever that’s supposed to mean.  His and other evangelical scandals of the period were the worst of daytime dramas (the fluff formerly known as “soap operas”), but provided delicious fodder for the tabloid press and comedians.

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Worst Quote of the Week – November 22, 2019

“Right now I want you to click on that button, and I want you to honor God with his first fruits offering.  If God doesn’t divinely step in and intervene, I don’t know what you’re going to face – he does.”

Paula White, Donald Trump’s “personal pastor”, in an email asking followers to send her a donation of USD 229, they will get “prophetic instruction” on how to attain victory over their “enemies.”

White claims the $229 fee is “in accordance with 1 Chronicles 22:9, and that it is “a specific seed” because “numbers are important to God.”  Those who can’t manage the $229 for prophetic visions are encouraged to send $31 – the sum of 22 and 9.  Now, isn’t that clever?  But she insists the full $229 is needed to “break any chains.”

To the religiously curious, 1 Chronicles 22:9 reads: “But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side.  His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign.”

I don’t see anything in there about giving money to a man who inspired “The Joker” character and his gal-pal who’s in desperate need of a dye job.

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Praise the Lord and Tithe Your Soul!

The Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), which has some 18,000 affiliates and claims to broadcast on every continent except Antarctica, has come under scrutiny for alleged embezzlement and sexual harassment claims by some of its former employees.  Founded by Paul Crouch, his wife Janice and – believe it or not – Jim and Tammy Faye Baker in the 1970’s, the California-based entity preaches a so-called “prosperity gospel,” which promises material rewards to those who give generously.  It’s obvious from the lavish lifestyles TBN executives lead that the prosperity part is purely subjective.  It’s amazing how people keep falling for these goons.  Like the Roman Catholic Church, Christian evangelicals always screw people out of their hard-earned money; that is, people who can least afford to get screwed.

Proverbs 28:6 “Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a rich man whose ways are perverse.”

I mean, who needs a pedophile priest looking out for your kids when you have this bitch!

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