January 23, 2017
Evangelical Christians, You Flunked Your Own Litmus Test – A Letter to My Conservative, Christian Friends
By Warren Holleman
In the Baptist church where I was raised, we learned to judge a person’s character based on Jesus’ simple instruction: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” The Apostle Paul spelled out for us just what those “fruits of the spirit” should be: “Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.”
It should come as no surprise when I say that my Sunday school teachers would have rated Donald Trump as O for 7 on the Christian character scale.
Yet last June, evangelical godfather James Dobson cynically declared this moral and spiritual no-show-of-a-man to be, of all things, a born-again Christian. And you, in the name of Christ, rallied behind him and elected him.
Most of the world cringed when Donald Trump publicly humiliated a disabled man–but you didn’t. Decent people everywhere were appalled when he showed up in porn films and the dressing rooms of teenage beauty pageants–but you weren’t. Most Americans were embarrassed and apologetic when he called Mexicans “rapists”—but you considered such language par for your political dis-course. You should have been outraged when you learned his favorite sport was grabbing women “by the pussy.” Instead you laughed it off as locker room talk.
Any one of these actions should have disqualified him as being your candidate, but somehow the cumulative effect blinded you to the evil of his ways. And, because of your complicity, your own sin as well. You keep shrugging it all off as Donald being Donald and politics being a contact sport.
And then there were those startling occasions when candidate Trump said that being Hispanic or Muslim disqualifies a person from being a judge, a citizen, or even setting foot on American soil. I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t know or care about the US Constitution. But I was shocked to discover you didn’t, either. After all, this is the same Bill of Rights that protects your religious freedoms and grants you your precious gun rights.
You should have been shocked, offended, and demanded an apology when Donald Trump made the offensive claim—repeatedly for years and without foundation—that Barack Hussein Obama was not American enough to be President. Instead you sat back and enjoyed the political theater.
Now look at the mess we’re in. This Dennis Rodman of politics has become the leader of the free world. Like Dennis, he’s unable to do what 99% of other adults do—control his impulses and speak without dissembling—and yet you deemed him qualified.
Sometime in the next few months he’ll be faced with his first international crisis. Lives will be on the line. Our national security may be on the line. Yet when he enters the room to negotiate with Vladimir Putin and other powerful enemies and friends, he himself won’t know what words will come out of his mouth until the moment he says them. And he’ll be doing it all with undisclosed financial assets and conflicts of interest. Corruption, blackmail, and betrayal aren’t just possible—they’re inevitable.
I’ve been quiet these past few months because I knew you wouldn’t listen—you’d dismiss my complaints as sour grapes from a sore loser. I was quiet during the Inauguration, too–I believe in the peaceful transition of power, and I didn’t want to rain on your parade. The other reason I kept my concerns to myself is that I was hoping you’d wake up and see how far you’ve strayed from those basic values we all learned in Sunday school. But that hasn’t happened. So I’m calling you out.
For years I disagreed with James Dobson and the evangelical mainstream on important social issues, but I never questioned your sincerity or integrity. Now I do.
I’m sad to say it, but you, my evangelical friends, have become the most cynical people I know. Whether electing your candidate or delegitimizing ours, whether fighting against abortion or restricting the powers of an incoming democratic governor in my home state of North Carolina, you’ll say or do almost anything in the name of political expediency.
Even to the point of condoning Donald Trump’s immoral behaviors. Even to the point of trampling on the dignity and constitutional rights of your political enemies. And even to the point of doing obsessively ludicrous things, like passing laws specifying whether people should use the bathroom that matches their current genitals or the ones they were born with.
Can’t you see what you’re doing? You’re flunking your own litmus test! And, in the process, you’re creating a generation’s worth of collateral damage by giving Jesus a bad name and driving thoughtful, caring people away from the church.
In that same passage where Jesus teaches about “fruits” as evidence of character, he also warns us to beware of those who fail the litmus test, calling them “false prophets” and “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” James Dobson and all the evangelical mainstream can anoint Donald Trump an agent of righteousness if they want to, but that don’t make it so. Jesus had it right: “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
I don’t usually talk about politics in this blog; I focus on “life balance” and “work-life wellness.” But wellness begins with moral and spiritual wellness, and I’m concerned because so many seem to have lost their moral compass. Perhaps it’s time to sober up and realize whom you’ve been sleeping with!