Jerry Falwell, Jr., the apple that didn’t fall far from the tree, says Donald Trump has been “born again.” The truth is that the religionists once known as conservative Christians have been “born again.” They have set Jesus aside and adopted Donald Trump as their Lord and Savior.
For mainline and progressive Christians, the departure of the religious righteous feels a little like what we might have expected during what they always described as the Rapture. We won’t have the Christian Right to kick around anymore.
Eight years ago, 72 percent of all voters believed it important that the president have strong religious views. Today that number is at 62 and falling. According to a Pew Research Center poll, one in five voters now claim no interest in religion.
That may explain why the religious right has unmasked itself as far more supportive of extreme rightwing politics than it is of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. They are likely in that group that finally admits it has less interest in the Gospel than they do in right wing politics.
Liberals used to describe the Christian Right as neither, i.e. neither Christian nor right. Regardless the Christian Right was once a powerful political force in America, always delivering a reliable Republican vote.
Over the years, the farther right they moved, the less Christian they became. In 2016, that journey has been completed. They have converted from Christianity to becoming far right Republicans.
Slate.com writer Michelle Goldberg summed it up pretty well in her report on the recent “Road to Majority” conference sponsored by the Faith and Freedom Coalition (the successor to the Christian Coalition) and Concerned Women for America. The conference was convened for the purpose of exciting conservative Christians about the 2016 Presidential race.
Ms. Goldberg observed, “The spectacle of self-proclaimed Christian conservatives cheering a foul-mouthed ex-casino owner for his pledge to turn away refugees tells you pretty much everything you need to know about what the religious right has become—or maybe what it always was.”
It’s the sacred obligation of those who claim to follow Jesus to involve themselves in politics. That is the arena in which many of the choice are made about whether our state and nation will feed the hungry, house the homeless, and clothe the naked.
Anyone who interprets Jesus’s admonition to render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar and unto God that which belongs to God as a warning to stay away from politics doesn’t understand Jesus. For him, everything belongs to God. Once you’ve rendered unto God all that belongs to God, there is nothing left for Caesar.
The Faith and Freedom folks have rendered so much unto Donald Trump that they have nothing left to render unto God. In backing Donald Trump, these folks have abdicated even their characteristic strict interpretation of the scripture.
The Apostle Paul said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Paul warned, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
The religious right has determined that Paul and the Gospel are anachronistic. They’d rather build walls to keep people out and target those who believe differently. They have rejected the Biblical command to welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, free the prisoner, and one of the two big ones, that we love our neighbor as ourselves.
The Christian right has exchanged their trademark literal interpretation of the Bible for a strict interpretation of the Republican Party platform. More important, they have tried to defy Jesus’s teaching that one cannot serve two masters. Jesus warned, “Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”
Realizing that what Jesus said was indeed true, they have made their choice between God and right wing politics and both Christianity and American politics will be the better for it.