I have been reading increasingly alarming articles about why Christians, in particular white Evangelicals, continue to support our current president, no matter what awful thing he does or says. Several of these articles in recent weeks have talked about how Christians believe this administration will bring us closer to The Rapture by forcing a battle between “good” and “evil.”

First of all, what?

Others mention that some believe he is a modern day King Cyrus from the Old Testament, an example of God using an unbeliever “for His purpose.”

Still others see him as just a fine Christian man with no agenda other than the best interest of this country in his mind, being attacked unfairly from all sides (except Fox News).

As a Christian, I find all this deeply troubling, have always found Christian (Evangelical) support for Trump the most troubling thing in a whole pot of troubling, frightening things concerning the rise of Trump. It has been the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around and it makes my heart ache.

While Christian leaders are touting the president’s political policies they support as a major reason to “overlook” or excuse his lies, his vulgarity, his disrespect, his likely Russian ties, his cruelty, his misogyny, his deference to authoritarians and his debasement of America in the eyes of the world, etc., etc. I find myself wondering how many souls are being turned away from the teachings of Jesus.

And isn’t that the first and foremost responsibility of a Christian and of the church, to reach out to the sinner, the homeless, the poor, the refugee, the children, the stranger?

When did public policy become the biggest goal?

When did fear become the motivator for all manner of deviation from what we are called to be and who we are supposed to represent in this world?

Polls show that fewer and fewer people in the United States and around the world identify themselves as “Christian” or even as religious.

I certainly don’t think many have been drawn to Christ by the rhetoric coming from prominent Christian leaders, who have twisted and turned biblical principles every which way to try to make them “fit” the Trump agenda. Is it the goal to draw people to Christ, or to Trump?

I have far more than a few thoughts on this, but I won’t get into all of them here, I promise.

I always go back to Jesus and his teachings. In those I find nothing that encouraged his followers to have political agendas or to promote people to power (particularly a non-believer) with a particular policy goal in mind.

Instead, I read of his anger, his rage, at the money changers in the temple. I read of the times he fed the hungry and of how you could find him among the sinners, the unbelievers, the sick, the poor and the disenfranchised.

To the sinner he provided forgiveness and an admonishment to live a different life. He provided sustenance to the hungry and the poor, understanding that fulfilling basic needs is the first step to opening a mind, and a heart.

To the Pharisees, he paid little attention; after all they were self-righteous enough to think they already had all the answers.

Sound familiar?

Speaking of Pharisees, I read with real rage a Washington Post’s New Year’s story about the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Liberty University, and one of Trump’s staunchest supporters.

One particular part stood out to me. When asked if there was anything Trump could do to lose his support, Falwell gave a one-word answer, “no.”

Wow.

One would almost think Falwell has deified the president.

He was then reminded that he’s been criticized by some other evangelical leaders for supporting Trump. To that he actually answered that “it may be immoral for them not to support him,” citing record highs for African American and Hispanic employment as his basis for that statement.

“They need to look at what the president did for the poor,” Falwell continued. “A lot of the people who criticized me, because they had a hard time stomaching supporting someone who owned casinos and strip clubs or whatever, a lot them have come around and said, ‘Yeah, you were right.’ Some of the most prominent evangelicals in the country have said, ‘Jerry, we thought you were crazy, but now we understand.’”

That sounds to me exactly like something Trump would boast, citing unspecified people who have told him just how right he is.

And he went on: “There’s two kingdoms. There’s the earthly kingdom and the heavenly kingdom. In the heavenly kingdom the responsibility is to treat others as you’d like to be treated. In the earthly kingdom, the responsibility is to choose leaders who will do what’s best for your country. Think about it. Why have Americans been able to do more to help people in need around the world than any other country in history? It’s because of free enterprise, freedom, ingenuity, entrepreneurism and wealth. A poor person never gave anyone a job. A poor person never gave anybody charity, not of any real volume. It’s just common sense to me.”

And yet it is the poor, the meek, that will inherit the earth. At least that’s what my Bible says.

A lot of damage has been done to the “body of Christ” and I submit to you that the vast majority of that damage has been done by members of that body, more than by attacks from anyone or anything on the outside.

I think it is way past time for discernment, for self-reflection and for some serious soul-searching. I think it’s time to learn how to think critically for ourselves, read, research and learn for ourselves, and not just believe that if so-and-so says it, then it must be true, without question.

If Christianity is truly under attack, then I believe that the first place Christians should look for the enemy is in the mirror.

And a wall, a figurative or literal one, will do no good if the real enemy is within.

Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for The Madison County Journal. She can be reached at margie@mainstreetnews.com.

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