Remember the days when a President would do or say something outrageous and the nation had time to discuss it and then respond in some way? Well, those days are gone. Trump has seemingly decided to inject so much chaos into everything he does that there’s no time to individually react, let alone communally respond.
We will be honest with you: our blog community has struggled to keep up with everything going on. All the authors on this site have full-time lives outside the blog; to keep up with Trump, a few of us would have to become full-time bloggers!
Well, since that isn’t going to happen, we thought it would be helpful to at least mention a few of the numerous issues we were unable to cover:
1. North Korea
Consider this: our President, the face of our nation, which desires diplomacy and peace, went out of his way to declare at the U.N. that we are willing to “totally destroy North Korea.” He went on to call Kim Jong-un, “Rocket Man.” Those ill-conceived words have, unsurprisingly, not helped the tense relationship. In fact, North Korea threatened to bomb the U.S. because of Trump’s speech.
While North Korea remains a complex political situation, we can say this: war with North Korea would result in thousands, if not millions, of deaths. Supporters praise Trump’s forceful rhetoric, but what about supporters who also profess Christ? As followers of Christ, can we support national leaders rattling their nuclear sabres with little to no regard for the human casualties such rattling may produce?
And based on Trump’s speech, today North Korea accused the U.S. of declaring war, meaning they now claim to be justified if they decide to shoot down U.S. aircrafts.
Just a day after threatening to annihilate an entire country, Trump took up the next most important topic: NFL players kneeling. Trump had strong words for the NFL owners; to quote our President, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!'”
Besides being extraordinarily inappropriate and unpresidential, it further highlights the racist overtones to Trump’s White House. Trump went out of his way to uphold the dignity of neo-Nazis, and here he ridicules an entire group of athletes for exercising a Constitutional right. And if one responds by saying players must honor our military service people, we’d be wise to remember that Trump recently denounced and then “fired” thousands of soldiers. Furthermore, what, in Trump’s opinion, is the negative result from kneeling? Apparently “bad ratings.”
Meanwhile, a catastrophic hurricane hit millions of Americans in Puerto Rico, which garnered zero tweets from the President.
As followers of Christ, are we more passionate about the protection of God-given freedom’s or about obeisance to “man”-made symbols?
Staying with the sports theme, Stephen Curry recently decided to forego his opportunity to visit Trump at the White House to celebrate the Golden State Warriors recent championship. Trump, ever-concerned with public perception, responded by saying:
The President rescinded the invitation––an invitation that President Ulysses S. Grant first extended to the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings––because a player chose not to attend. To recap: instead of considering the reason Curry does not want to visit the White House, Trump tells him that he is no longer invited over to his house. As followers of Christ, do we care about listening and meeting people where they are at, or do we care about how “tough” our interactions with others makes us look?
Strangely, on September 5, Trump repealed DACA. Again, the timing is odd, and the overall reason for the decision is unknown. While Trump did cite two reasons––i.e., “Dreamers” are bad for the economy and are violent––both were easily proven wrong. Deporting Dreamers would be terrible for the economy and Dreamers, as well as other immigrants, are far more likely to be law abiding than natives. Nevertheless, hundreds of thousands of people are losing their rights, which were established by the State, for no apparent reason.
This should be upsetting to Christians. Although they are citizens, the vast majority of which are working hard to better their communities, Dreamers are being told that they must leave. Interestingly, Franklin Graham, who has strongly supported travel bans and deportation, was outraged when Christian refugees were facing deportation. Yet here, Graham is silent, a posture many Christians have taken. As followers of Christ, do we care about loving our neighbors, or do we only care about our neighbors being white or Christian?
5. Title IX
Trump’s administration is choosing to remove a system that helps sexual assault survivors, who are mostly women, get the support they need. The alternative program they are proposing is undetermined and undeveloped, which is the perfect time to repeal something (see Obamacare repeal efforts). As followers of Christ, do we care about protecting women and girls, or do we care about protecting rape culture?
This focus on Trump isn’t meant to be an endorsement of any political side. We’re not advocating for Christians who are Republican to switch parties, as if Democrats better embody Jesus’ teachings––they don’t. We’re simply asking questions in the hope that we all can confront one of the biggest dilemmas facing American Christianity today: the wholesale trade-off of Christian ethics for political capital. In short, many of us seem more concerned with what our political side said than what Jesus said.
Trump, perhaps, provides just a tidy packages from which to view this dynamic. With each of these acts, and the public defense they receive from God-fearing Americans, a theme seems to be apparent: Trump’s administration is not interested in representing all Americans, or any coherent system of ethics for that matter… and many Christians seem not to care.
And while the scripted and planned actions of the Trump administration demonstrate these facts, perhaps it is those “off script” remarks which should give us the most pause. When he begins to speak his mind, his most vicious and hate-filled statements are unleashed. Those statements, in other words, represent what Trump actually thinks, which is incredibly concerning.
And while we can always minimalize, and say, “We’ll, that’s him, not me.” We should continue to be concerned by this number: 80%. That’s the percentage of evangelicals who voted for Trump, and it’s also the percentage future generations will remember as they drive past our church doors on the way to the next protest.
Note from the Editorial Team: Engaged Pentecostalism is a community that values open dialogue and respectful engagement from different perspectives. The views expressed above are the author's own and do not reflect those of every part of the community.