Trump, Steinbeck and Jesus Christ

by Ross Decker Sr

“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” John Steinbeck

I had a life changing encounter with Jesus Christ in April of 1976. It was the traditional way, the pastor said that anyone who wanted to give their lives over to Christ should raise their hands. I did. Liz did. So we, pretty much simultaneously and altogether independently, raised our hands. That, as I believe it should, forever changed the way we looked at everything.

Liz asked me repeatedly if I fully understood what I’d done. I assured her that I did. That Tuesday night (pastors are off on Monday) the Pastor used the “pop in” to shore up our decision. And he immediately brought up tithing. If Liz had any doubts about my willingness to follow fully, my agreement to tithe must have put an end to them right there!

Sometime very shortly following that night, I began to see a push to have Christians involved in politics. Christians were taking back the culture! From my limited view, the vehicle they were using to reclaim that culture was the Republican Party. And, over the years, that Republican Party gradually hijacked Evangelical Christianity. Evangelicals fell in line with Republican “doctrine” even when it contradicted Christian teaching.

It seems only fair, though scarily so, that the Republican Party should be hijacked today by a rich white man with an aggressive position. Donald Trump entered the race for the party’s presidential nomination with inflammatory words directed against minorities, the poor, and immigrants. He has virtually no political experience, he has been associated with the Democratic party as well as flirting with a third party candidacy. But, he has surged to the top of the polls by loudly saying what Republican Christians quietly believe. He seems to embody the values they treasure.

What do the Republican Christians treasure? Well, poor Republicans seem to love any law that can make rich Republicans richer. They love anything that will help rich Republican businessmen hold onto their wealth. They love a small government that stays out of their business, but not their Liberal neighbors’ business. They love when law enforcement goes after a few kids wearing their pants too low or selling loosies on the corner but they don’t want the government regulating their boss’s salary. They love to tell dissenters to go find a better country, a revival of the sixties’ “America, love it or leave it,” but the ones who resent the government the most wave the biggest flags.

Trump infuriated Latinos (and all thinking people) by describing Mexicans who come to the United States illegally as “killers” and “rapists” in his June campaign announcement speech. He added some days later, “What can be simpler or more accurately stated? The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists…. ‘. He promised to both build a wall and to have Mexico pay for it.

On deporting the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, Trump boasted “Politicians aren’t going to find them because they have no clue. We will find them, we will get them out, It’s feasible if you know how to manage. Politicians don’t know how to manage.” It’s a problem for America, he said, because “We have a lot of bad dudes, as I said. We have a lot of really bad people here, I want to get the bad ones out…And by the way, they’re never coming back.”

Christians! We can’t be like this. We can’t confine our Christian lives to the inside of church walls each Sunday, living by a different world view once we are back in the secular world. There is no secular world for the Christian. My pastor, speaking about tithing, once said that “god’s math is different than ours. Ninety per cent goes farther than One hundred percent when the first tenth goes to God.” His reasoning was that when we “obey God in the tithe” it works out better for us in the end.

Well that’s not how it works. We don’t obey God so that we get more in the end. We obey God because we are supposed to.We aren’t checking out His program and following it if it makes sense. We follow it because we’re supposed to. We follow it whether it works or not. It certainly hasn’t worked for those who have been imprisoned, tortured and beheaded for the Gospel.They didn’t do it to see their bank account swell. They followed God because they were supposed to.

That’s what we are supposed to do regarding our neighbors to the south. Sure, we set up an immigration policy but that policy must be kind, fair and realistic. We are to follow the words of Jesus when he says to love your neighbor as yourself. He seems to think it’s a pretty important ‘suggestion.” In tandem with loving God with all your heart, loving your neighbor as yourself sums up the law of the prophets.

The remarks Trump made about Megyn Kelly after the debate are beyond the pale. His defense  of his remarks was even worse. For a man whose fans claim “he tells it like it is,” he seemed to be unwilling to do just that.  In true politician fashion he sidestepped what he really meant and accused those who were offended of perverse thinking. His Christian supporters claim he was “baited.” Perhaps he was, but so what? “He hit me first” has never been, nor should it ever be, an acceptable excuse for paid behavior. And Christians should never rejoice in someone who attacks the human dignity of another. God made us in His image and when we revile another, we revile Him.

And why do Republican Christians have such a love affair with successful businessmen?

James admonishes us, “But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?  Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?” (James 2:6,7), 

“I’m not using the lobbyists” boasts Trump, “I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich.”

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