Civil religion is back. With a vengeance.
Feast your eyes on this announcement from the website of First Baptist Dallas. Their pastor, Robert Jeffress, has been one of American evangelicalism’s most vociferous supporters of Donald Trump.
People, this is not Christianity. Never has been, and never will be.
I get it. Well, I’m trying to, at any rate. Many of you are longing for a return to what you see as a more stable, moral, and prosperous period of our history back in the mid-20th century. You think back on those times as the “good old days”. But there were no good old days. There were, however, times when certain expressions of Christian culture and morality held sway in the halls of power and in the cultural imagination. So when you say you long for the “good old days”, it’s just a thinly veiled way of saying you long for the days when we white Christian males were in charge.
Not a very Christian attitude, people.
You see, the so-called “good old days” had a seamy underbelly, and many who were not straight white Christian males experienced the full brunt of it. Segregation was the order of the day. The KKK was rampant. A woman’s place was, by and large, in the home. And all of this was considered part and parcel of the Christian message and witness.
What we had back then was a Christianity that basically wiped its ass with the very people for whom Jesus Christ came to earth and died on a Roman cross. As long as they were not straight Christian white males.
People, our calling as Christians is to love God, love our neighbors, and even to love our enemies. These elements are notoriously lacking in the civil religion that now holds sway in much of evangelicalism.
Our calling as Christians is not to promote the civil religion of any nation or political party, to seek power at any and all possible cost, and then to wave the flag and/or the cross in the face of any and all who hold dissenting views. Such behaviors fly in the face of loving God, loving our neighbors, and loving our enemies.
I find it appalling that so many prominent evangelical leaders like Robert Jeffress are falling all over themselves to support this…I don’t know how to call him. Though he is courting white evangelicals as part of his power base, it is perfectly clear that he shares nothing whatsoever in common with us except the lust for power and control.
This is not going to end well, people.
I’ve said this before and will say it again: Think of it through the grid of “What does love require of me?” I refuse to accept that what love requires of me is to support a candidate whose message consists entirely of sheer, unbridled hatred and anger directed against those who are not straight white Christian males. No one can convince me otherwise. Not even Robert Jeffress.