By Rudy Barnes, Jr.
Christian morality in America is now as polarized along racial and partisan lines as the politics it has shaped. Radical right (and white) Republican evangelicals are at one extreme of the political spectrum with leftist Democratic Socialists at the other end--and never the twain shall meet. This contrast in Christian morality and politics is illustrated by Pastor Clay Crum’s First Baptist Church of Luverne, Alabama, and the reclaim Jesus movement of Jim Wallis.
Pastor Crum has preached on the commandment against adultery, but was careful not to condemn Donald Trump for his egregious infidelities. Crum and his congregants believe that Trump may have been immoral, but that he was sent by God to save America from Judgment, and they remain committed to support Trump. By way of contrast, Jim Wallis and his reclaim Jesus movement have condemned Trump for his personal infidelities and political immorality.
Members of Crum’s Alabama Baptist church are fundamentalist evangelicals who are pervasive in the South and West. They worship Jesus but fail to follow his teachings in their politics. Those in the reclaiming Jesus movement represent a minority of Christians who are committed to follow the teachings of Jesus in their politics. As long as the former outnumber the latter, Christianity represents a threat to libertarian democracy in America.
The differences in Christian morality run deep and resist reconciliation. Trump’s America First politics are the antithesis of the altruistic standards taught by Jesus. In America’s partisan duopoly voters must choose between the radical right politics of Trump’s Republican Party and the leftist socialist politics of the Democratic Party. There’s nothing in between. It should be no surprise that candidates on the radical right get more votes than those on the radical left.
The stubborn loyalty of Trump supporters is based on their politics being inextricably interwoven with their faith. Since religion shapes standards of political legitimacy, either Trump evangelicals will reshape the Christian religion to fit their distorted doctrines of family values and the prosperity gospel, or more progressive Christians will follow Jim Wallis and reclaim Jesus for the church. Unfortunately, Trump evangelicals now outnumber more progressive Christians.
The future looks bleak for both the church and American politics. While evangelical charlatans ignore the teachings of Jesus and promote radical right politics, mainstream Christian pastors are reluctant to promote Christian morality in politics. In America’s materialistic and hedonistic culture the politics of the right remain more popular than those on the left, and when the teachings of Jesus are applied to politics, they seem closer to the left than the right.
But Christians don’t have to be leftist socialists. They can be centrists who balance individual wants and rights with providing for the common good, with politics compatible with the moral teachings of Jesus as summarized in the greatest commandment to love God and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves—including our neighbors of other races and religions.
Politics is the art of compromise, and that art has been lost in corrupt Christian morality that has helped polarize American politics along racial and partisan lines. Many white Christians are like those in Pastor Crum’s Alabama Baptist church who believe that God sent Trump as their messiah. In reality, Trump is more like an antichrist who is aided and abetted by zealous evangelical supporters who are subverting American democracy into kleptocratic fascism.
America is engaged in a battle for the heart and soul of Christianity and libertarian democracy. Saving them from their demise depends on a moral reformation in Christianity that will enable a politics of reconciliation. In this cosmic battle between the forces of good and evil, God’s will is to reconcile and redeem people while Satan’s will is to divide and conquer them. Unfortunately, Satan has done a convincing imitation of God in both the church and in politics.
The phrase never the twain shall meet was used by Rudyard Kipling, in his Barrack-room ballads, 1892: "Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet." See https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/255800.html.
On the distorted concepts of evangelical Christian morality that rationalize the immorality of Donald in Pastor Clay Crum’s First Baptist Church of Luverne, Alabama, see https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/national/wp/2018/07/21/feature/god-trump-and-the-meaning-of-morality/?utm_term=.5c4fc48efc56&wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1.
On Jim Wallis and his reclaiming Jesus movement that counters the immoral and dysfunctional morality and politics of Donald Trump, see https://sojo.net/articles/helsinki-was-clarifying.
On how Democratic Socialists Gain Momentum and Lose Their [Political] Way, see https://www.thedailybeast.com/democratic-socialists-gain-momentum-and-lose-their-way.
Robert Jeffress has defended Trump’s sexual immorality citing the moral equivalence of other presidents (http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/398309-trump-religious-adviser-defends-trump-amid-cohen-tape-revelations-we), but none have matched the flagrant immorality of Trump in matters of sex and politics.
On Trump leading America on a trial run for fascism, see https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/fintan-o-toole-trial-runs-for-fascism-are-in-full-flow-1.3543375?mode=amp
Sacha Brown’s new show is unfunny because it’s true in depicting “all the crazy, noxious thinking that has sent our country carrenning off course” and that reflects a pervasive immorality in America. See
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