One of the brothers from our community, who I respect, has been asking me repeatedly over the past 4 ½ years why more people, especially leaders in the church, have not been calling out Donald Trump (#TheLoser) for the many levels of nonsense he has subjected the nation to since his candidacy. There are several answers.
First, no one expected him to win. We thought he was just an annoying, occasionally entertaining distraction who would wear out his welcome quickly on a serious stage with serious people. We NEVER expected the Republican party would allow itself to be taken over by this un-serious man who had been a New York Democrat all his life. And once he won the nomination, we NEVER expected that he could possibly defeat one of the most qualified people to run for president in the modern era, Hillary Clinton. Indeed, he lost to her by almost 2.9 million votes. However, since the Electoral College ultimately determines the outcome, the device originally intended to serve as a safety valve to protect the republic from an unfit candidate or “mob rule” and an uneducated electorate, instead undermined the expressed will of the voters – our votes – and handed this man the keys to the White House.
(The world of sports, and college basketball, in particular, would cite NC State defeating Phi Slamma Jamma (Univ. of Houston 1983) and Villanova defeating heavily favored Georgetown Univ. in 1985 as examples of the reality of competition. Once you’ve reached the finals, anything can happen…and it did!)
Second, many of us hoped that if he were elected, once he took office and realized the presidency was a serious place for serious people, #TheLoser would “act accordingly,” drop his shtick and honor the great burden and trust of the presidency. As with the aforementioned assumption, we were wrong, again!
So “Why,” I was asked repeatedly, “isn’t the church calling the #TheLoser out on his flagrant immorality, unkindness, unpreparedness, unfitness for office and a whole list of “un’s”? There are two reasons. First, “Trump Fatigue” is a real thing and we grew weary of “feeling the need” to respond to ever single outrage. Second, we never thought it would get this bad.
Now, as we close in on the final 15 days of the Trump Misadministration, the utter lawlessness and shamelessness of the past four years is on full display. In spite of losing the election by over 7 Million votes, #TheLoser and his minions keep trying to overturn the expressed will of the people (OUR VOTES) by fomenting disproved “conspiracy theories” that are unsupported by facts. They’ve been to court dozens of times and lost every time. State elections officials, some of whom are Republicans, have been compelled by those facts to do their jobs in spite of the fact they would like to support him. Why? Because his claims are unsupportable by facts. But that is not stopping him from filing lawsuits, cajoling and threatening state legislators and elections officials to simply “ignore” the actual results and name him as the “victor.”
We NEVER thought it would get this bad! We never thought there would be an occupant of the White House who figuratively used the U.S. Constitution for toilet paper and did whatever suited him irrespective of law, custom, tradition or decency. We should have said much more much earlier. We were wrong. It wasn’t possible to speak to every single outrage and every single lie (there have been over 25,000 of them!), but we needed to say more. When he routinely attacked women in government (like the governor, attorney general and secretary of state of Michigan) we should have spoken out. Only men who are small, insecure bullies attack and denigrate women just because! When #TheLoser demonized “Mexicans” as “criminals” and “rapists” we should have shut him down. When #TheLoser stated that the racist and anti-Semitic domestic terrorists in Charlottesville, VA, who threatened and perpetrated violence, were “good people,” we needed to hold him accountable and NOT let right wing so-called “religious leaders” to provide a fig leaf for him to hide behind. When #TheOccupant and his misadministration basically took a pick ax to many components of our government, undermining both the morale and effectiveness of the State Department, EPA, CDC, Department of Education and many other arms of government, we should have insisted that the Republicans in Congress (especially in the Senate of the past 4 years) hold him accountable to some governing norms and not acquiesce with their silence to his many anti-constitutional and counter-constitutional impulses. He has made the United States a client state of Russia/Vladmir Putin. And he his team has been largely inept, anti-science and even seemed unconcerned about the reality of the Coronavirus pandemic. These obsequious tools need to be held accountable for lacking the stones to challenge #TheLoser and his uninformed supporters who are, in effect, engaging in scorched earth politics now because the votes didn’t go their way. Whatever happened to “America First”? Oh yeah, that’s right…Trump First.
Finally, the Christian church must confess being asleep at the switch while allowing self-proclaimed “leaders” who allege to speak for “The Church” to look the other way at #TheLoser’s MANY displays of indecency, crassness, poor character, ineptitude and incompetence. They would never have accepted even a hint of any of that from President Obama, but have given #TheLoser a free pass for four years, and sold the country out in exchange for some judicial appointments (“red stew” Genesis 25:29-34). These people claim to be “people of The Book” (the Bible) but only embrace it selectively. They give full-throated support to #TheLoser’s anti-immigration policies, when, in fact, the Bible says, “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner” and “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born.” It is interesting that the values Jesus spoke about (“I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” are often now deemed to be “leftist.” The personal mission statement Jesus announced was to “proclaim good news to the poor…proclaim freedom for the prisoners…(and) to set the oppressed free” are derided by the undiscerning as “socialism” and “communism.” All the while these folks have misrepresented “The Book” and our Savior and bastardized the faith, diminishing us in the very eyes of the people to whom we should be reaching out.
Many of us in the church were resigned to tolerating #TheLoser’s excesses and hoping after the election he would just go away. Now it appears the cancerous residue of his time on the campaign trail and in office could infect us for years to come. Incalculable damage has been done to our nation and her people. Those of us who serve in the church of Jesus Christ must now push back against lies, inaccuracies and prejudices under the cover of “the church.” We must not allow the ministry of Jesus Christ to be considered the province of one party or the other anymore. Our role is NOT to be agents of any party or government. Our mission is to be prophetic and to be visible reminders of the Holy. We must hold parties and government accountable to We The People all the time…even if our portion of “The People” did not prevail in a particular election or piece of legislation. I close with a passage from 2 Timothy Chapter 4:1 “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” #TruthMatters!
Submitted by Rev. Stephen Tillett, Submitted by Rev. Stephen Tillett, Pastor of Asbury Broadneck United Methodist Church in Annapolis, MD, author of Stop Falling for the Okeydoke: How the Lie of “Race” Continues to Undermine Our Country, Political Analyst for “The Lavonia Perryman Show” (910 AM Superstation, Detroit, iHeart Radio), retired Air Force Chaplain.Ne