I admit that Trump doesn’t scare me as much as the reality that the Republican Party has control over the majority of state governments and the federal legislative, judicial and executive branches. It is the Republican values of unfettered capitalism, unregulated industry, an aggressive military, an everyone-on-their-own health care system, a diminished emphasis on human and civil rights and a return to White patriarchy that scares me.
Sadly, Christians echo these values. It was Christians who formed the core constituency that elected this option for radical change, not only in the presidency but also congressional and state elections.
Nationally this is the breakdown of faith community support for the Trump message: 81 percent of White evangelicals; 61 percent of Mormons, 58 percent of nonevangelical Protestants, 52 percent of Catholics. Only 29 percent of other faiths supported Trump, 26 percent of those who have no formal faith connection and 24 percent of Jewish voters.
What this means is that Christians elected politicians whose rhetoric raises some very troubling questions. What if there is a political move into authoritarian governance? What if dissent is met with police and judicial force? What if immigration imprisonment and private prisons increase in volume? What if anti-Muslim rhetoric becomes a policy of deportation, exclusion and harassment? What if LGBTQ prejudice becomes acceptable? What if there are increased attacks upon public education and its unions? What if the Affordable Care Act is taken off the table with no new plan to include the poor? What if federal funding for low-income housing and social welfare are eradicated? What if Roe v. Wade is abolished? What if surveillance increases and a tightening of civil liberties ensues? What if Muslim hate crimes spike and a backlash against Hispanic people continues to rise? What if there is a savage destruction of regulations (checks and balances) concerning the health of Earth? What if we really do pull out of Paris climate agreement and a policy of fossil fuel expansion is implemented? What if there are legal and cultural moves toward defining America as a Christian nation?
What if this rhetoric becomes political policy? Will the church be silent or will it organize its members to resist? Trump is a buffoon but if you watch old reels of Hitler, he also was a theatrical bozo who captured the imagination of the masses. For Christians, that isn’t actually surprising given that our pulpits are occasionally filled by whack-jobs who act bizarrely while pontificating profound pieties about power. Remember Mark Driscoll? Remember the old adage, “There’s a sucker born every minute?” Will we hear giant sucking sounds in the sanctuary? Or will we hear the Prophet from Nazareth finally speak?
Rev. Rich Lang is the district superintendent of the United Methodist Church in King County. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.