Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

This is what happens when you are to sanctimonious and ardent in your beliefs. When something reveals itself from your past you immediately go to your bible and accuse everyone but yourself. This couldn’t have happened to a better person. All is fair in love and war. We send him our coldest regards…all those christians camping for this derelict, you have and share in his values. 

Roy Moore’s brother compared the U.S. Senate candidate to Christ in an interview with CNN on Friday, saying that the Alabama Republican is being persecuted “like Jesus” in the wake of accusations of sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old girl.

Jerry Moore told CNN correspondent Martin Savidge in a phone interview that allegations about his brother’s history with teenagers when Roy Moore was in his 30s, reported Thursday by The Washington Post, are “not true at all.” He said that the Democratic Partywas behind the “false allegations,” adding: “These women are going to … have to answer to God for these false allegations,” Savidge reported. He said that his brother was being “persecuted like Jesus Christ was,” Savidge told CNN anchor John Berman.

Savidge described Jerry Moore as “very defiant and very outspoken, relying on his faith and defending his brother to the hilt.”

Jerry Moore also said he was worried about what effect the allegations would have on the brothers’ 91-year-old mother.

Roy Moore has denied the accusations. Asked Friday on Sean Hannity’s radio program if he remembered dating teenagers when he was in his 30s, he responded: “Not generally, no.” He said he didn’t recall dating “any girl without the permission of her mother.”

It was at least the third biblical reference someone has used to defend Roy Moore since the Post article Thursday. One of the four women interviewed in the article, Leigh Corfman, said that she was just 14 years old in 1979 when Moore, then a 32-year-old assistant district attorney, took her to his home, removed her shirt and pants, fondled her and asked her to touch him. Three other women said Moore sought dates with them when they were 16 to 18 years old and he was in his 30s.

After the story was published, Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler compared Moore to the biblical Joseph.

“Take Joseph and Mary,” Zeigler explained Friday. “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”

He also compared the situation to the biblical description of an elderly Zechariah and wife Elizabeth, who were the parents of John the Baptist.

“There is nothing to see here,” Zeigler told the Washington Examiner.

 

Roy Moore tweeted after the Post story: “We are in the midst of a spiritual battle with those who want to silence our message.”I believe you and I have a duty to stand up and fight back against the forces of evil waging an all-out war on our conservative values!

Our nation is at a crossroads right now — both spiritually and politically. (3/4)

President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have said Moore should withdraw from the Dec. 12 special election — if the accusations are true.

Corfman told the Post, “I wanted it over with — I wanted out,” when she was at Moore’s home. She said she recalled thinking: “Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get it over.”

By Mary Papenfuss/HuffPost

Posted by John the Revelator

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The House Republican tax bill released Thursday would allow churches to endorse political candidates, rolling back a 1950s-era law that bars such activities.

The proposed change is listed at the end of the 429-page legislation.

It states that churches should not lose their tax-exempt status based on statements about political candidates made during the course of religious services.

The change to what is known as the Johnson Amendment has long been a priority of leaders on the religious right. They say the policy violates the First Amendment.

The Johnson Amendment prohibits 501(c)(3) nonprofits from engaging in certain political activities.

President Trump vowed to repeal the amendment during the campaign, saying it would “give our churches their voice back.”

Shortly after taking office, Trump said he would “totally destroy” the amendment, which allows the IRS to revoke a church’s tax exempt status if it’s deemed to be participating in a political campaign.

A group of more than 4,000 religious leaders from around the country wrote a letter in August opposing efforts to repeal the Johnson Amendment, saying it “would harm houses or worship, which are not identified or divided by partisan lines.”

BY BRETT SAMUELS/TheHill

Posted by John the Revelator

I am not the first person to point this out: There’s been a cultish quality to President Trump’s most ardent supporters. He seemed to acknowledge the phenomenon when he boasted that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and not lose voters.

Throughout the campaign, and in personal appearances since then, Trump has harnessed the kind of emotional intensity from his base that is more typical of a religious revival meeting than a political rally, complete with ritualized communal chants (“Lock her up!”).

As we approach the one-year anniversary of Trump’s election victory, the zeal of some of his followers seems increasingly akin to a full-fledged cult.

I use the word “cult” in its pejorative sense, meaning a deeply insular social group bound together by extreme devotion to a charismatic leader. Such groups tend to exhibit a few common characteristics.

They are usually formed around an individual whom they’ve elevated to prophetic and near divine status.

During the campaign, Franklin Graham,Trump’s most enthusiastic evangelical Christian supporter, dismissed his many moral failings by comparing him favorably to the flawed patriarchs and prophets of the Bible: Abraham, Moses and David.

Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, told a talk radio audience that Trump was a better presidential candidate than someone who “embodies the teaching of Jesus” because Trump fit the biblical preference for a “strongman” in government.

Frank Amedia, an Ohio pastor who briefly had ties to the Trump campaign, explicitly cast the president as a prophet receiving divine revelations: “I believe he receives downloads that now he’s beginning to understand come from God,” he said in July.

The authority that a cult leader exercises comes from his self-ascribed role as the one true information source for his followers. Competing ideas and facts are not just wrong; they are demonic.

Trump, of course, characterizes most media outlets as “fake news.” He calls journalists“liars” and “sick people” who are “trying to take away our history and our heritage.” In a May HuffPo/YouGov poll, a whopping 60% of Trump supporters agreed with him that the media are “the enemy” of people like them.

The cult leader is generally believed to possess special knowledge. No matter how demonstrably false his pronouncements, they become, by definition, truth for his followers. Trump has been spectacularly successful at getting his supporters to believe his blandishments rather than their own eyes. Consider the fact that in another HuffPost/YouGov poll, conducted after allegations of sexual harassment and assault surfaced against producer Harvey Weinstein, only 8% of Trump supporters believed the claims of sexual assault made against him despite the evidence of the “Access Hollywood” tape.

One of the ways a cult leader maintains his unquestioned authority is by creating a siege mentality among his followers and presenting himself as the antidote. In Trump’s view, the country is a wasteland of empty factories “scattered like tombstones” and crime-ridden cities that are more dangerous than war zones. “Our military is a disaster. Our healthcare is a horror show,” he declared during the campaign. And as Trump has often said, “I alone can fix it.”

This dark view of the U.S., in which honest, hardworking white Christians are under attack by hostile forces, has convinced Trump’s followers that they are among the most oppressed people in the country. In a survey after the protests in Charlottesville, Va., 45% of Trump supporters said white people were the most discriminated against racial group in the U.S., and 51% said Christians were the most discriminated against religious group.

Nurturing a cult following has its dangers. Cult members tend to believe that they are taking part in a cosmic performance, that they are fighting in a battle between the forces of good and evil. And if “good” doesn’t win — if cold, hard reality overtakes the cult leader’s lies and fantasies — the whole enterprise may collapse, sometimes violently.

That some of Trump’s supporters view the president in cosmic terms is clear. A month after the inauguration, Pat Robertson said those who oppose Trump are “revolting against what God’s plan for America is.” Paula White, the pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Florida and a Trump spiritual advisor, recently told her congregation that resisting Trump is tantamount to “fighting against the hand of God.”

As to cold, hard reality, the Trump administration is beset with multiple campaign investigations, ethics lawsuits, members of his own party abandoning him, open talk of invoking the 25th Amendment and impeachment.

Trump’s truest believers have sounded downright apocalyptic: “This is not a battle between Republicans and Democrats,” Jeffress said in 2016. “It’s a battle between … righteousness and unrighteousness, light and darkness.” Amedia declared that God personally told him that Trump’s presidency was paving the way for the Second Coming.

And then there is this warning from Trump confidant Roger Stone: Any attempt to remove the president from office, he said in August, would result in “a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you’ve never seen.”

If Trump’s presidency deteriorates further, expect the religious fervor of many of his followers to reach a fever pitch. That poses a risk for the country. Because the only thing more dangerous than a cult leader is a cult leader facing martyrdom.

By Reza Aslan/LATimes

Posted by The NON-Conformist

I read this drivel and had to pause. I came to the conclusion he’s scared to speak up to address the real issue at hand. As jesus didn’t come back last saturday he’s not coming back tomorrow. Meaning, if we don’t at least try to fix it…what! Blacks didn’t create racism white supremacy yet we are the ones always trying to fix it. Pastor, get from behind jesus and take a stand. The bible and quoting it isn’t going to fix shit. Its really the elephant in the room. The kkk believes in your same bible and your same jesus to be white, guess you may have some things in common. Stop trying to appease white people to seem sympathetic, this is shameful. I agree and stand with Kap, we can stand or kneel doesn’t matter. Next time the there is an white nationalist march take your ass out there and preach the good news. I believe in love as well as non aggression. Only small movements will change anything, and protest are meant to be uncomfortable, stop using your pulpit to support white supremacy. “Riots are the language of the unheard” MLK. I will also add Protesting. 

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Notwithstanding the myriad reasons professional athletes in America are protesting the national anthem, President Donald Trump, law enforcement officers, the military, or other social, civil, or political issue, entity, or individual, there appears to be a certain degree of naivety connected with the stated goals and objectives of these demonstrations.

Many of these athletes have stated that the protestations in which they are involved are meant to show ‘unity.’ But my question is, unity by whose or what standard of measure?

In Amos 3:3, the question is asked, rhetorically, “How can two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?”

The question is deserving of thoughtful and contemplative consideration because unity, however one chooses to define the term, is not an abstract concept. It is not an idea that is devoid of contextual boundaries or parameters. If there is to be unity between individuals, whether three or three hundred million, it is established and maintained on the basis of objective principles that are fixed and immutable, not on precepts or propositions that are subjective and changeable.

I, personally, deem it inexcusable and irresponsible that the President of the United States, regardless of political party or ideology, would refer to anyindividual, let alone any American citizen, as a “son of a bitch” (as has been reported in the media.) It is with that thought in mind that I believe President Trump should publicly apologize to the individual(s) to whom his derogatory remarks were targeted.

The President of the United States, irrespective of ideological or political differences between himself and those whom he is charged with governing (Rom. 13:4), is nonetheless the representative of all of this nation’s citizens, not merely those who elected him to office. As such, he must endeavor to consistently exhibit a level of personal integrity, maturity, and, as situations warrant, restraint, as is befitting the office which he happens to hold not by his own volition but by the will of the American people.

That said, however, I find the protests being engaged in by these athletes to be somewhat short-sighted, particularly with regard to their stated purpose and intent which, to me anyway, seems rather ambiguous.

You will get no argument from me that the pursuit of unity is an admirable undertaking. But what makes it an admirable endeavor, for the Christian especially, is that the Lord commands and expects it of us.

In 1 Cor. 1:10, the apostle Paul writes to the church at Corinth, “Now I exhort you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.” Conversely, in Rom. 12:18, Paul urges, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”

Understanding that the admonitions in the aforementioned texts are directed toward believers and not unbelievers, the point is no less germane to those who are outside the church in that unity, as a pursuit, requires context. In the case of these professional athletes, one cannot say that their protests are designed to ‘show unity’ if there is no objective definition of what ‘unity’ is.

You see, it is one thing to appear unified but another thing altogether to be unified.

This point is underscored in 1 Jn. 2:19 where the apostle John, in addressing believers about imposters within the church, declares, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.”

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As I observe the current wave of civil disobedience in America, I am reminded that such protestations are nothing new. The act of taking a knee or raising a clenched fist, among other such gestures, has for decades (if not longer) been embraced by countless individuals as symbols of ideological, political, and religious disagreement and dissent.

As a veteran of the United States military (Army), I consider it both an honor and privilege to have spent six years of my life defending the Constitutional right not only of professional athletes, but of all Americans, to peacefully express such opposition as that of many professional athletes today without regard to ethnicity, sex, socio-economic station, or political ideology or party affiliation.

I took an oath to defend these rights because they are grounded not in subjective propositions but in the objective truth of imago Dei (Gen. 1:27). That is, the biblical precept that human beings are created in the image God and that, as His image-bearers, they inherently possess certain unalienable rights, privileges, and protections under the God-ordained mandate that governments – all of which are established by God – are responsible for ensuring those rights are protected and applied equally and indiscriminately (Rom. 13:1-7.)

As theologian Dr. William Edgar writes:

“Humanity clearly shares certain attributes with God. What is certain is that there is a tacit connection between the image of God and the honor due the human being.”Created & Creating: A Biblical Theology of Culture, p. 164

All this to say that, like the idea of ‘rights’, the idea of ‘unity’ must be objectivelyconceptualized in order to be considered a universally valid argument. It is not enough merely to profess to be “against” injustice apart from an objective definition of what justice is, and it is God, through His Word, who provides that definition.

“Blessed are those who keep justice, who practice righteousness at all times.” – Psalm 106:3 (NASB)

In our efforts to navigate the current milieu on matters of social justice, what we often fail to realize is that at its most fundamental level, the call for justice is essentially a call for human beings to practice God’s standard of righteousness “at all times.”

It is our failure to uphold this standard that has given rise not only to the contemporary protests of today, but also those of the past.

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But the reason you and I don’t practice God’s righteousness at all times is we’re innately incapable of doing so.

As much as we’d like to believe that, as human beings, we innately possess the moral and ethical capacity and ability to change ourselves for the better, the truth is we do not. As God declared to Noah, “…for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth (Gen. 8:21b).”

To subscribe to a paradigm of injustice that is measured against anything other than God’s standard of righteousness is an exercise in futility. Because, ultimately, human-centered solutions will prove insufficient, to say the least, to address what is fundamentally a spiritual problem.

And unless our innate sinfulness becomes central to the ongoing conversation on matters of unity and justice, we will find ourselves right back here again, incessantly engaged in circular tit-for-tat arguments which, ultimately, will prove to be of no real temporal or, more importantly, eternal benefit.

In Christ,

Darrell

Posted by John the Revelator

“A faction of church members were concerned about my speech,” he said.

ALBERTO E. RODRIGUEZ VIA GETTY IMAGES

The descendant of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Rev. Robert Lee IV, has left the Bethany United Church of Christ after receiving backlash for his denouncement of white supremacy at the MTV Video Music Awards last week.

On Monday, an open letter by Lee describing the events that unfolded after his speech was published on a website for the Auburn Seminary. In the piece, Lee wrote that some members of the church “were concerned” about his speech and that the attention it brought to the church wasn’t desired.

“My presence at the church as a descendent of Robert E. Lee and an outspoken opponent of white supremacy had already attracted attention, but with my appearance on MTV the media’s focus on my church reached an all time high,” he wrote. “A faction of church members were concerned about my speech and that I lifted up Black Lives Matter movement, the Women’ s March, and Heather Heyer as examples of racial justice work.

He went on to say that “the church’s reaction was deeply hurtful” to him.

The 24-year-old pastor had served the North Carolina church for just six months and says he doesn’t want “this episode to be a distraction from the sacred work of confronting white supremacy in all its forms.”

Adding: “My calling and my vocation has led me to speak out against violence and oppression in any form, and I want to especially challenge white Christians in America to take seriously the deadly legacy of slavery in our country and commit ourselves to follow Jesus into a time of deep reflection, repentance and reconciliation.”

At the VMA’s, the fourth-great-nephew of Robert E. Lee introduced Susan Bro ― the mother of slain Charlottesville counter protester, Heather Heyer ― and said it was his “duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin,” and advocated for viewers to “confront racism and white supremacy head on.”

Since Lee cut ties with the church, he’s been vocal on social media, expressing thanks to supporters and sharing his thoughts on speaking out:

Lee ended his open letter by saying he is “looking forward with great hope to what God’s unfolding future and what God has in store for me and ask for all of your prayers and blessings for the future of my ministry.”

Following white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Va., Lee told HuffPost that he was deeply troubled by the actions taken in his family’s name and that statues honoring his great-great-great-great uncle, Confederate General Robert E. Lee, ought to come down.

“It broke my heart to see a symbol of my family being used to allow such hate,” Lee told HuffPost. “All in the name of what my relative stood for.”

“These statues have morphed into a symbol of racism, a symbol of bigotry, a symbol of the alt-right, a symbol of white nationalist movements,” he said. “That is not okay and that can never be celebrated or honored in any way, whether you believe you should honor legacy or ancestors or not.”

By Jenna Amatulli/HuffPost

Posted by John the Revelator

Beyond Good and Evil

Beyond Good and Evil is the title of Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophical work.  It is a highly controversial book in which he successfully debunks the tenets of Christianity and in which he relativises the notions of good and evil.  There are two types of morality, he argues, the ruler-morality and the slave-morality.  It is the difference between them which is considered good and evil.  The ruler-morality considers good to be the ‘noble’ and the ‘warlike’, the strong and the powerful, the dominant with the will-to-life (which is power and control by another name).  The good in the slave-morality consists of attributes such as compassion, charity, forgiveness, fortitude in suffering etc.  – values which, he says, arise in the subjugated and the oppressed.

For Nietzsche, society and the masses should serve an elite few – the aristocracy – so that a few ‘supermen’ can be bred from this group which will contribute to the overall creativity and intelligence of the world.  It resembles a Hellenic conception of power (whose ‘democracy’ allowed for slaves).  But Nietzsche does not adopt Platonic and Socratic ideas of what is good and evil for these are absolute in concept and more interesting.

For Plato, what is good is the ‘agathon’ – the pure.  But for Nietzsche purity is an idealistic term whose original meaning escapes him.  It is the ‘pure’ of theology he deconstructs and shows how this good is linked in with the life-denying concept of original sin and pain and suffering for the rewards of a hypothetical here-after.  Such concepts were popularized by medieaval church scholars, like Thomas Aquinas.  Ecclesiastical goodness and purity is that which is non-sexual, non-physical and is burdened by a good dose of martyrdom.

It was not the Christ figure of Jesus that Nietszsche reviles, but rather the ideology perpetuated and propagated by the ruling class of the day.  The Christianity adopted by the ‘disciples’, many hundreds of years after the event, was an amalgam of Judaic and Islamic scriptural discourses.  In these discourses, god is a great punitive judge, patriarchal, and full of avenging wrath and power.  This great judge not only punishes one for his crime (whatever that was in the day) but he promises to punish generations of his children aeons into the future (sic!).  There are only a few direct quotes from the great enlightened master, Jesus and the most significant ones are not included in the Bible (all versions) but were found in Thomas’ and other gospels found in the late 19th Century. (Such revolutionary notions as we are all god’s children and heaven exists in the heart of all human beings.)

Nietzsche rightly points out that Jesus was a man of peace.  His words were in diametrical opposition to the scriptural dogma of the day.  He preached love and maintained that to love your loved ones is easy, but the aspiration should be to love your enemies.  Turning the other cheek, was a controversial idea in those days, given the ruling class’s belief in an avenging male god who judged and punished for the smallest misdemeanour.  Jesus embodied peace and maintained his silence even when the church and state crucified him.  I consider it a profound tragedy and stupidity that this brutality has been privileged as his divine purpose!  Sacrificing the man of peace is clearly symbolic of a more ancient heritage – the sacrificial lamb.  For to kill and sacrifice one’s own is to placate the war-like monster/god, or a fertility symbol, to help make crops grow.  The concession to violence because god is on one’s side, is still a prevalent and dangerous medieaval theological teaching  today.

So Nietzsche tears into the anti-life theology which breeds hatred of the body and eulogizes pain and suffering.  In this theology, there is no mention of a heaven-in-life, on earth, but the mere belief in a heaven which comes only after death (if you are good that is – whatever that means).

Having tried Christianity and found it wanting on many counts, Nietzsche declares god to be dead.  This became the catchphrase of European intellectuals and artist from early 20th century culminating the nihilism of postmodernist thought.  For the latter, there is no god, no absolutes, and nothing outside of language.

Nietszche found Eastern philosophies much more to recommend them.  He liked the idea of (ego) self-transcendence and the life-affirming qualities of joy, peace and prosperity here on earth.  But being a man of words, essentially, not experience, he remained entangled by his own discursive web, finally succumbing not to self-transcendence, but insanity.  He died in a mental asylum, completely unaware of his meteoric fame and Europe’s eulogy of his works.

So we may ask is there anything beyond good and evil?  Obviously, these are relativist terms since what is good for one culture may not be good for another.  As Nietzsche cleverly points out, these notions are relative to one’s class and position in the pecking order.

Enlightened discourse recognises that even a murderer has the opportunity to know his/her own true self.  It recognises the potential of ALL human beings to know and experience (as a feeling, not a thought) a realm beyond good and evil and beyond judgment.  All human beings house the boundless and infinite power of what we commonly refer to as god.  To know this state, is to be full of peace and love (and a great many other things besides).

Socrates is rarely quoted by Plato.  One quote, however, remains ‘know thy self’ and it was inscribed on the entrance of the Delphic temple ages prior.  Plato believed that the pure, the agathon, existed in the realm of ideas (messing with philosophy for centuries later).   One cannot easily dismiss, however, his belief, that human beings exist in a land of shadows and half-baked perceptions.  Plato’s writings are a poor testament to the great revolutionary and enlightened teachings of Socrates – so revolutionary, the authorities so threatened by his influence on the young, that they poisoned him to death.

To know one’s self implies an answer, as the great man of peace, Prem Rawat, points out in contemporary times.  It implies that if one pursues self-knowledge, that the profound meaning of that inner experience will propel one into the self-transformation of a Socrates, a Kabir, a Meera, a Rumi and countless others who acknowledged the power and the knowledge of the Self (the divine within) and found in their experience, the experience of the Absolute – the one truly beyond Good and Evil.

By Eleni Pouliezou/DissidentVoice

Posted by John the Revelator

A boundary where scientists face a choice: invoke a deity or continue the quest for knowledge

Writing in centuries past, many scientists felt compelled to wax poetic about cosmic mysteries and God’s handiwork. Perhaps one should not be surprised at this: most scientists back then, as well as many scientists today, identify themselves as spiritually devout.

But a careful reading of older texts, particularly those concerned with the universe itself, shows that the authors invoke divinity only when they reach the boundaries of their understanding. They appeal to a higher power only when staring into the ocean of their own ignorance. They call on God only from the lonely and precarious edge of incomprehension. Where they feel certain about their explanations, however, God gets hardly a mention.

Let’s start at the top. Isaac Newton was one of the greatest intellects the world has ever seen. His laws of motion and his universal law of gravitation, conceived in the mid-seventeenth century, account for cosmic phenomena that had eluded philosophers for millennia. Through those laws, one could understand the gravitational attraction of bodies in a system, and thus come to understand orbits.

Newton’s law of gravity enables you to calculate the force of attraction between any two objects. If you introduce a third object, then each one attracts the other two, and the orbits they trace become much harder to compute. Add another object, and another, and another, and soon you have the planets in our solar system. Earth and the Sun pull on each other, but Jupiter also pulls on Earth, Saturn pulls on Earth, Mars pulls on Earth, Jupiter pulls on Saturn, Saturn pulls on Mars, and on and on.

Newton feared that all this pulling would render the orbits in the solar system unstable. His equations indicated that the planets should long ago have either fallen into the Sun or flown the coop—leaving the Sun, in either case, devoid of planets. Yet the solar system, as well as the larger cosmos, appeared to be the very model of order and durability. So Newton, in his greatest work, the Principia, concludes that God must occasionally step in and make things right:

The six primary Planets are revolv’d about the Sun, in circles concentric with the Sun, and with motions directed towards the same parts, and almost in the same plane. . . . But it is not to be conceived that mere mechanical causes could give birth to so many regular motions. . . . This most beautiful System of the Sun,

Planets, and Comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.

In the Principia, Newton distinguishes between hypotheses and experimental philosophy, and declares, Hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, whether of occult qualities or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy. What he wants is data, inferr’d from the phænomena. But in the absence of data, at the border between what he could explain and what he could only honor—the causes he could identify and those he could not—Newton rapturously invokes God:

Eternal and Infinite, Omnipotent and Omniscient; . . . he governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done. . . . We know him only by his most wise and excellent contrivances of things, and final causes; we admire him for his perfections; but we reverence and adore him on account of his dominion.

A century later, the French astronomer and mathematician Pierre-Simon de Laplace confronted Newton’s dilemma of unstable orbits head-on. Rather than view the mysterious stability of the solar system as the unknowable work of God, Laplace declared it a scientific challenge. In his multipart masterpiece, Mécanique Céleste, the first volume of which appeared in 1798, Laplace demonstrates that the solar system is stable over periods of time longer than Newton could predict. To do so, Laplace pioneered a new kind of mathematics called perturbation theory, which enabled him to examine the cumulative effects of many small forces. According to an oft-repeated but probably embellished account, when Laplace gave a copy of Mécanique Céleste to his physics-literate friend Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon asked him what role God played in the construction and regulation of the heavens. Sire, Laplace replied, I have no need of that hypothesis.

Laplace notwithstanding, plenty of scientists besides Newton have called on God—or the gods—wherever their comprehension fades to ignorance. Consider the second-century a.d. Alexandrian astronomer Ptolemy. Armed with a description, but no real understanding, of what the planets were doing up there, he could not contain his religious fervor:

I know that I am mortal by nature, and ephemeral; but when I trace, at my pleasure, the windings to and fro of the heavenly bodies, I no longer touch Earth with my feet: I stand in the presence of Zeus himself and take my fill of ambrosia.

Or consider the seventeenth-century Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens, whose achievements include constructing the first working pendulum clock and discovering the rings of Saturn. In his charming book The Celestial Worlds Discover’d, posthumously published in 1696, most of the opening chapter celebrates all that was then known of planetary orbits, shapes, and sizes, as well as the planets’ relative brightness and presumed rockiness. The book even includes foldout charts illustrating the structure of the solar system. God is absent from this discussion—even though a mere century earlier, before Newton’s achievements, planetary orbits were supreme mysteries.

Celestial Worlds also brims with speculations about life in the solar system, and that’s where Huygens raises questions to which he has no answer. That’s where he mentions the biological conundrums of the day, such as the origin of life’s complexity. And sure enough, because seventeenth-century physics was more advanced than seventeenth-century biology, Huygens invokes the hand of God only when he talks about biology:

I suppose no body will deny but that there’s somewhat more of Contrivance, somewhat more of Miracle in the production and growth of Plants and Animals than in lifeless heaps of inanimate Bodies. . . . For the finger of God, and the Wisdom of Divine Providence, is in them much more clearly manifested than in the other.

Today secular philosophers call that kind of divine invocation God of the gaps—which comes in handy, because there has never been a shortage of gaps in people’s knowledge.

As reverent as Newton, Huygens, and other great scientists of earlier centuries may have been, they were also empiricists. They did not retreat from the conclusions their evidence forced them to draw, and when their discoveries conflicted with prevailing articles of faith, they upheld the discoveries. That doesn’t mean it was easy: sometimes they met fierce opposition, as did Galileo, who had to defend his telescopic evidence against formidable objections drawn from both scripture and common sense.

Galileo clearly distinguished the role of religion from the role of science. To him, religion was the service of God and the salvation of souls, whereas science was the source of exact observations and demonstrated truths. In a long, famous, bristly letter written in the summer of 1615 to the Grand Duchess Christina of Tuscany (but, like so many epistles of the day, circulated among the literati), he quotes, in his own defense, an unnamed yet sympathetic church official saying that the Bible tells you how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.

The letter to the duchess leaves no doubt about where Galileo stood on the literal word of the Holy Writ:

In expounding the Bible if one were always to confine oneself to the unadorned grammatical meaning, one might fall into error. . . .

Nothing physical which . . . . demonstrations prove to us, ought to be called in question much less condemned) upon the testimony of biblical passages which may have some different meaning beneath their words. . . .

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

A rare exception among scientists, Galileo saw the unknown as a place to explore rather than as an eternal mystery controlled by the hand of God.

As long as the celestial sphere was generally regarded as the domain of the divine, the fact that mere mortals could not explain its workings could safely be cited as proof of the higher wisdom and power of God. But beginning in the sixteenth century, the work of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton—not to mention Maxwell, Heisenberg, Einstein, and everybody else who discovered fundamental laws of physics—provided rational explanations for an increasing range of phenomena. Little by little, the universe was subjected to the methods and tools of science, and became a demonstrably knowable place.

Then, in what amounts to a stunning yet unheralded philosophical inversion, throngs of ecclesiastics and scholars began to declare that it was the laws of physics themselves that served as proof of the wisdom and power of God.

One popular theme of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was the clockwork universe—an ordered, rational, predictable mechanism fashioned and run by God and his physical laws. The early telescopes, which all relied on visible light, did little to undercut that image of an ordered system. The Moon revolved around Earth. Earth and other planets rotated on their axes and revolved around the Sun. The stars shone. The nebulae floated freely in space.

Not until the nineteenth century was it evident that visible light is just one band of a broad spectrum of electromagnetic radiation—the band that human beings just happen to see. Infrared was discovered in 1800, ultraviolet in 1801, radio waves in 1888, X rays in 1895, and gamma rays in 1900. Decade by decade in the following century, new kinds of telescopes came into use, fitted with detectors that could see these formerly invisible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. Now astrophysicists began to unmask the true character of the universe.

Turns out that some celestial bodies give off more light in the invisible bands of the spectrum than in the visible. And the invisible light picked up by the new telescopes showed that mayhem abounds in the cosmos: monstrous gamma-ray bursts, deadly pulsars, matter-crushing gravitational fields, matter-hungry black holes that flay their bloated stellar neighbors, newborn stars igniting within pockets of collapsing gas. And as our ordinary, optical telescopes got bigger and better, more mayhem emerged: galaxies that collide and cannibalize each other, explosions of supermassive stars, chaotic stellar and planetary orbits. Our own cosmic neighborhood—the inner solar system—turned out to be a shooting gallery, full of rogue asteroids and comets that collide with planets from time to time. Occasionally they’ve even wiped out stupendous masses of Earth’s flora and fauna. The evidence all points to the fact that we occupy not a well-mannered clockwork universe, but a destructive, violent, and hostile zoo.

Of course, Earth can be bad for your health too. On land, grizzly bears want to maul you; in the oceans, sharks want to eat you. Snowdrifts can freeze you, deserts dehydrate you, earthquakes bury you, volcanoes incinerate you. Viruses can infect you, parasites suck your vital fluids, cancers take over your body, congenital diseases force an early death. And even if you have the good luck to be healthy, a swarm of locusts could devour your crops, a tsunami could wash away your family, or a hurricane could blow apart your town.

So the universe wants to kill us all. But let’s ignore that complication for the moment.

Many, perhaps countless, questions hover at the front lines of science. In some cases, answers have eluded the best minds of our species for decades or even centuries. And in contemporary America, the notion that a higher intelligence is the single answer to all enigmas has been enjoying a resurgence. This present-day version of God of the gaps goes by a fresh name: “intelligent design.” The term suggests that some entity, endowed with a mental capacity far greater than the human mind can muster, created or enabled all the things in the physical world that we cannot explain through scientific methods.

An interesting hypothesis.

But why confine ourselves to things too wondrous or intricate for us to understand, whose existence and attributes we then credit to a superintelligence? Instead, why not tally all those things whose design is so clunky, goofy, impractical, or unworkable that they reflect the absence of intelligence?

Take the human form. We eat, drink, and breathe through the same hole in the head, and so, despite Henry J. Heimlich’s eponymous maneuver, choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional injury death in the United States. How about drowning, the fifth leading cause? Water covers almost three-quarters of Earth’s surface, yet we are land creatures—submerge your head for just a few minutes, and you die.

Or take our collection of useless body parts. What good is the pinky toenail? How about the appendix, which stops functioning after childhood and thereafter serves only as the source of appendicitis? Useful parts, too, can be problematic. I happen to like my knees, but nobody ever accused them of being well protected from bumps and bangs. These days, people with problem knees can get them surgically replaced. As for our pain-prone spine, it may be a while before someone finds a way to swap that out.

How about the silent killers? High blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes each cause tens of thousands of deaths in the U.S. every year, but it’s possible not to know you’re afflicted until your coroner tells you so. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had built-in biogauges to warn us of such dangers well in advance? Even cheap cars, after all, have engine gauges.

And what comedian designer configured the region between our legs—an entertainment complex built around a sewage system?

The eye is often held up as a marvel of biological engineering. To the astrophysicist, though, it’s only a so-so detector. A better one would be much more sensitive to dark things in the sky and to all the invisible parts of the spectrum. How much more breathtaking sunsets would be if we could see ultraviolet and infrared. How useful it would be if, at a glance, we could see every source of microwaves in the environment, or know which radio station transmitters were active. How helpful it would be if we could spot police radar detectors at night.

Think how easy it would be to navigate an unfamiliar city if we, like birds, could always tell which way was north because of the magnetite in our heads. Think how much better off we’d be if we had gills as well as lungs, how much more productive if we had six arms instead of two. And if we had eight, we could safely drive a car while simultaneously talking on a cell phone, changing the radio station, applying makeup, sipping a drink, and scratching our left ear.

Stupid design could fuel a movement unto itself. It may not be nature’s default, but it’s ubiquitous. Yet people seem to enjoy thinking that our bodies, our minds, and even our universe represent pinnacles of form and reason. Maybe it’s a good antidepressant to think so. But it’s not science—not now, not in the past, not ever.

Another practice that isn’t science is embracing ignorance. Yet it’s fundamental to the philosophy of intelligent design: I don’t know what this is. I don’t know how it works. It’s too complicated for me to figure out. It’s too complicated for any human being to figure out. So it must be the product of a higher intelligence.

What do you do with that line of reasoning? Do you just cede the solving of problems to someone smarter than you, someone who’s not even human? Do you tell students to pursue only questions with easy answers?

There may be a limit to what the human mind can figure out about our universe. But how presumptuous it would be for me to claim that if I can’t solve a problem, neither can any other person who has ever lived or who will ever be born. Suppose Galileo and Laplace had felt that way? Better yet, what if Newton had not? He might then have solved Laplace’s problem a century earlier, making it possible for Laplace to cross the next frontier of ignorance.

Science is a philosophy of discovery. Intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance. You cannot build a program of discovery on the assumption that nobody is smart enough to figure out the answer to a problem. Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes. We know when and where they start. We know what drives them. We know what mitigates their destructive power. And anyone who has studied global warming can tell you what makes them worse. The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms.

To deny or erase the rich, colorful history of scientists and other thinkers who have invoked divinity in their work would be intellectually dishonest. Surely there’s an appropriate place for intelligent design to live in the academic landscape. How about the history of religion? How about philosophy or psychology? The one place it doesn’t belong is the science classroom.

If you’re not swayed by academic arguments, consider the financial consequences. Allow intelligent design into science textbooks, lecture halls, and laboratories, and the cost to the frontier of scientific discovery—the frontier that drives the economies of the future—would be incalculable. I don’t want students who could make the next major breakthrough in renewable energy sources or space travel to have been taught that anything they don’t understand, and that nobody yet understands, is divinely constructed and therefore beyond their intellectual capacity. The day that happens, Americans will just sit in awe of what we don’t understand, while we watch the rest of the world boldly go where no mortal has gone before.

BY NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON/NATURAL HISTORY MAGAZINE

Posted by John the Revelator

 

Evangelicals say Christians are being persecuted. They are. But not in the United States. In fact, the U.S. doesn’t even make the top 50 according to Open Doors’ World Watch List. Worldwide, persecution of Christians is rising, but evangelicals’ claims of persecution in the U.S. are unfounded and rooted in intersecting legacies of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and colonialism.

Much of recent U.S. evangelical history has assumed conservative Christianity’s preeminent place in U.S. policy, law, and practice. That assumption also presumes whiteness, maleness, heterosexuality, and U.S. citizenship as characteristics of U.S. Christianity and the dominant U.S. culture. It has also presumed God as white, male, heterosexual, and probably American.

To a great extent, theology ― even a great deal of progressive theology ― has affirmed that view of God and thereby reinforced notions of Christian expansion and dominance. As the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Movement, Gay Liberation, Black Lives Matter, immigration, Queer and Trans movements, and other forces have challenged the dominance of white Christian heteropatriarchy, many evangelicals have experienced the progress of these groups as persecution as evangelicals have been expected to follow state and federal laws that have granted rights to various minorities. Now, for some evangelicals, expecting a conservative Christian bakery owner to provide a wedding cake for a lesbian couple gets framed as persecution.

Rooted in a theology that claims to know the “one right answer,” these evangelical Christians then cannot allow room for diverse, complex, and sometimes competing understandings of God or even more radical possibilities for God’s ongoing revelation ― the possibility, as the United Church of Christ puts it, that “God is still speaking.”

In academic theology, “outsider” voices have emerged in theologies of liberation, theologies that begin, not with a sacred text or a set of doctrines, but with the lived experiences of oppressed peoples. These theologies present new possibilities for imagining God from perspectives of the poor, people of color, women, queer and trans people, people from “the two-thirds world,” or the global South.

Unfortunately, these theologies rarely make it into the Sunday school lessons or sermons in most conservative Christian churches. Sometimes, these theologies themselves also neglect to examine the intersections that shape people’s experiences. Early Latin American liberation theologies were written by men and often ignored gender. Early feminist theologies were mostly written by white women who often overlooked race. Rarely did questions of the role of colonialism arise. And very seldom did straight white male theologians take into account the perspectives of the people at the margins of social power and theology.

And so we’ve mostly continued to have theologies that focus on questions of sin, redemption, the church, and social issues without reference to the diverse experiences and perspectives of the entirety of the human race.

When a theology can ignore all perspectives but its own, making the short jump from believing oneself to hold The Truth to claiming persecution for being expected to bake a wedding cake begins to make sense. It’s easier and much more comforting than dealing with the possibility that other perspectives may be equally or perhaps more valid.

The idea of intersectional thinking comes to us from a long tradition of Black feminist thought. The term “intersectionality” was coined by law professor Kimberle Crenshaw. Intersectionality takes note of how race, gender, social class, sexual identity, and other forms of difference shape one another within a matrix of social institutions that confer power differentially. An intersectional theology, as we have proposed, centers intersectional thinking in our doing of theology.

A truly intersectional theology is messy. It encompasses all the contradictions, differences, and difficulties of human experience, and that means that sometimes we won’t find a direct line from point A to point B to ultimate Truth. Instead, we will find questions, people who are nothing like us, ideas that terrify and challenge us.

An intersectional theology will not allow us to ignore human suffering, nor will it allow us to cause suffering in the name of God because it will underline the equal value of all of us toward our collective, contradictory, scary, and exhilarating understandings of God. It will compel us to speak out against real persecution—against Christians around the world, against Jews and Muslims in the US, who actually do suffer the most religious persecution in our country.

This kind of intersectional thinking is for all of us, not just those of us who are members of an oppressed group. In fact, the embrace of intersectional thinking by dominant groups is absolutely essential to progress for us all because dominant groups hold the social, economic, political, and religious power to make significant change. This means white, heterosexual men, for example, need to recognize that their race, gender, and sexual identity are part of the way they do theology. They cannot be objective and neutral; rather they express theology from their particular social locations.

If we Christians begin to think this way, to center questions of the role of the intersections of difference in our theological thinking and faith practice, then we can revolutionize the church, making it a leader in changing the world for good, rather than being a follower 25 years behind the rest of society. With intersectional thinking, evangelical Christians likely won’t see themselves as persecuted in the US because they’ll understand the ways power and privilege operate across social differences, and progressive Christians will remind themselves that they need to pay attention to all the differences, not just the ones that happen to affect them. Together, then, we take another step toward the kin-dom of God.

By Grace Ji-Sun Kim/HuffPost

Posted by John the Revelator

For a religion that touts the virtues of truth, large segments of American Christianity couldn’t care less about whether it’s found within the political system it helped put into power.

The bedrock of Christianity is founded upon pillars of truth — that God is real; that Jesus died and rose again; and that Christ saved us from our sins. Furthermore, Jesus himself claims to be the very embodiment of truth: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)

Truth is promoted within every facet of the Christian religion, and across denominations we use things from confession booths, accountability partners, and pastoral counseling, to small groups, prayer chains, discipleship programs, and “convicting” sermons in an effort to be honest and sincere — using a system of checks and balances to maintain our integrity.

So Christians shouldn’t be opposed to seeking accountability from their elected officials, especially from those who received votes under the guise of faith-based rhetoric and Christian morality.

The Bible says that “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight (Prov. 12:22),” and “Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool (Prov. 19:1).”

If we don’t hold our leaders to standards of truth and integrity, but continue to passively allow deceptive narratives to be preached, how can anyone take Christians seriously when we attempt to communicate our own version of the truth — the gospel of Christ?

You cannot be a Christian truth-bearer while simultaneously spewing political propaganda that contradicts the love of Jesus.

At the very least, Christians should pursue truth, defend it, then passionately promote it, because this is what it means to be a Christian: to abide in truth, to emulate Christ.

But truth isn’t always popular, and often comes from surprising sources. Within Scripture, Joshua and Caleb were condemned for speaking truth, the criminal on the cross was praised for discovering truth, the disciples scolded for not understanding truth, the Pharisees rebuked for pretending to communicate truth, and Jesus himself was ultimately crucified for claiming to be the divine representation of truth.

Unfortunately, the message of Christ — truth — is being tarnished by many Christians who would rather support a president and administration than seriously consider any forms of truth or facts that may contradict their preferred worldview.

To be honest and without blemish is an essential responsibility for followers of Christ to uphold, even if it means investigating our own president and government.

Unfortunately, political misdeeds and un-Christlike behavior is continually rationalized and theologically defended by various Christians for the purpose of propagating their own political opinions. Meanwhile, Jesus gets further alienated from the very principles he represents.

Because if we’re willing to compromise on what it means to be truthful and trustworthy, the very core doctrines of Christianity will themselves become muddled. Things that Jesus taught, commanded, and lived become corrupted by secular versions of truth and “alternative facts.”

For years, conservative Christians have warned against the dangers of postmodernism and moral relativism, but ironically, are now more than happy to apply these philosophies to their favorite political leaders. Facts are simply a matter of opinion. Morality and character are no longer important. Truth is meaningless.

When this erosion of truth happens, Jesus’ teachings of helping the poor, accepting the outcast, healing the sick, forgiving your enemies, loving your neighbor, and doing unto others and you would have them do unto you can become forsaken, and are exchanged for border walls, deportation programs, bombing campaigns, travel bans, and policies that make people’s lives worse — not better.

And when the truthful message of Jesus is sold out for the lies of political power, a transformative faith that is fueled by the Holy Spirit —exhibited by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and self-control— gets quickly transformed into a civic religion managed by federal legislation — exhibited by corruption, deception, fear-mongering, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and greed.

For the sake of Christ, may we always seek truth, no matter the cost.

By Stephen Mattson/Sojourners

Posted by John the Revelator

Last Friday, Jerry Falwell, Jr. took to Fox News to proclaim that in Donald Trump, “evangelicals have found their dream president.” Two years ago, this statement would have made virtually no sense, at least on the surface. To many outside the white evangelical world, it seemed — and still seems — inconceivable that a thrice-married serial adulterer, ultimate materialist, casino owner, habitual liar, and unprincipled deal-maker could ever become the standard bearer for a group that professes to base their vote on “family values.”

How times have changed. In the two years since Trump announced his candidacy, we have seen a remarkable moral unmasking of white Americans who call themselves Christian, and in particular those who claim the “evangelical” label. Eighty-one percent of white evangelical voters cast their vote for Donald Trump, and the most recent Pew Research poll puts Trump’s support after his first 100 days in office at 78 percent among white evangelicals (and 80 percent among white evangelicals who attend church once a month).

So it makes sense that Falwell would be asked to rate the president on his first 100 days from an evangelical perspective: Falwell was essentially a surrogate for Trump during much of the campaign. And in late January, Trump asked Falwell to lead a taskforce on higher education policy, whose aim is to recommend changes that should be made to Department of Education policies and procedures. He has indicated in particular that he wants to curb or eliminate federal rules that he views as overly burdensome, including the requirement that schools must investigate campus sexual assault under Title IX, a federal law banning discrimination in education.

Given Falwell’s close relationship with Trump’s campaign and administration, it’s unsurprising that he spoke so glowingly about what he views as the Trump administration’s accomplishments so far. Here are some of the claims Falwell made for why Trump is a “dream president” for evangelicals:

  • Trump is more pro-Israel than Obama.
  • He appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
  • He has appointed people of faith to his Cabinet.
  • Trump will destroy ISIS, thereby saving the lives of many persecuted Christians in the region.
  • Trump supports secure borders (e.g. the wall).
  • Trump is bringing jobs back to America.
  • Trump is cracking down on “sanctuary cities.”

Falwell made a point to note that he felt “… evangelicals didn’t just vote on social issues this time, because the Republican establishment had lied to them over decades about those issues, and so instead, they went a different direction,” which was his explanation for why so many white evangelicals are “thrilled” about Trump’s hardline positions on immigration. In supporting Trump’s crackdowns and, in Trump’s words, “big” and “beautiful” wall that will keep immigrants out, Falwell is explicitly and proudly saying that white evangelicals voted for Trump not in spite of his racist and xenophobic rhetoric about undocumented immigrants, but because of this rhetoric. How that relates to Christians, including evangelicals, who are in direct relationship to the undocumented immigrants and refugees that Trump wants to deport or keep out of our country, Falwell didn’t say.

Falwell also didn’t mention that Trump’s agenda and proposed budget would brutally cut off vital support to all “the least of these” that Jesus asks us to protect in the 25th chapter of Matthew’s gospel — or that a broad cross-section of leaders from all our Christian families, including the National Association of Evangelicals, have pleaded with this administration and Congress not to do so.

As in this latest interview, Jerry Falwell, Jr. has once again shown himself to be nothing more or less than a Republican political operative, interested in advancing his preferred policy agenda much more than examining what it means to be a Christian. Famously, when the Access Hollywood tape came out with Trump bragging his ability to commit sexual assault with impunity, Falwell stood by Trump, suggesting a “conspiracy” of GOP establishment leaders was to blame for the leak. Falwell also said that “we’re never going to have a perfect candidate unless Jesus Christ is on the ballot” and defended Trump as “a changed man,” saying, “We’re not electing a pastor. We’re electing a president.”

You can imagine how jarring it was and is to see the same religious right figures who (rightly) condemned Bill Clinton’s infidelity come to Trump’s defense. A startling poll in October 2016 showed the dramatic change in white evangelical attitudes: In 2011, only 30 percent of white evangelicals agreed with the idea that “an elected official can behave ethically even if they have committed immoral acts in their personal life.” By October 2016, that figure had jumped to 72 percent. This was the largest recorded change on the answer to this question of any racial, religious, or political demographic measured by this poll.

The issue here is not Christians voting differently from each other. That is normal and likely healthy given the independence that people of faith should show over partisan loyalties. This is about the moral hypocrisy of white American evangelical religious right leaders like Jerry Falwell, Jr. causing a crisis in the church, dividing American Christians on racial lines, and astonishing the worldwide body of Christ — the international majority of evangelical Christians who are people of color — and whose leaders keep asking many of us what in the world is going on with white American evangelicals.

That number, 81 percent, has become an international symbol that tragically now represents what white American evangelicalism stands for. It dramatically and painfully symbolizes the white ethno-nationalism that Donald Trump appeals to and continues to draw support from among white American evangelicals. It is the most revealing and hurtful metric of what I will call the racial idolatry of white American evangelical Christianity, which clearly excludes American evangelicals of color and the global majority of evangelicals. The 81 percent number ultimately signifies a betrayal of the body of Christ — which is the most racially inclusive and diverse community in the world today.

Jerry Falwell, Jr. and I believe in different gospels. With Falwell, of course, this is also a like father like son history. Jerry Falwell, Sr. opposed the civil rights movement and the black churches who led it. On the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education that integrated public schools, Falwell, Sr. preached:

“If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God’s word and had desired to do the Lord’s will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision would never have been made … The facilities should be separate. When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line … The true Negro does not want integration …. He realizes his potential is far better among his own race … [integration] will destroy our race eventually. In one northern city, a pastor friend of mine tells me that a couple of opposite race live next door to his church as man and wife.”

In fact, he founded the Liberty Christian Academy in 1967, which the Lynchburg News at the time described as “a private school for white students.”

He also attacked Martin Luther King, Jr., saying:

“I must personally say that I do question the sincerity and nonviolent intentions of some civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. James Farmer, and others, who are known to have left-wing associations … It is very obvious that the Communists, as they do in all parts of the world, are taking advantage of a tense situation in our land, and are exploiting every incident to bring about violence and bloodshed.”

As late as the 1980s, Falwell, Sr. personally attacked South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu by calling him a “phony” and campaigned against sanctioning the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Falwell, Sr. later distanced himself from these views, but they remain an important element explaining the origin of the religious right and the views of too many white evangelicals today.

Racism is not a gospel issue to the Falwells, and never has been. That Donald Trump began his political career with a racist lie about America’s first black president isn’t an issue for Falwell, Jr. That Trump opened his campaign by demonizing immigrants in calling them “rapists” and “criminal” doesn’t matter to Jr. either. And Trump’s xenophobic assaults on Muslims seems to be something that Falwell. also agrees with, as his comments at the Liberty University convocation in 2015 indicate. After the San Bernardino shootings, he told his audience that he had a gun in his back pocket ready to use against “those Muslims:” “I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in … let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.”

It is important to remember that the majority of American evangelicals of color, and the 19 percent of us white evangelicals who voted with them — against Trump — did so because we are pro-life and pro-family. For all of us, Trump’s racial bigotry was a deal breaker and disqualifier of a Christian vote. That only a few conservative evangelical leaders, like Southern Baptist Russell Moore, took that stance was one of the saddest things about the 2016 election.

Racism and racial bigotry is a gospel issue, and overcoming our human divisions in a new multi-cultural community was at the center of the vocation of the early church. Last week, when I debated Eric Metaxas, an ally of Jerry Falwell, Jr., he said that raising the issue of race is not Christian — that talking about racism was racist. No. Unlike Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whom he has written about, Metaxas — like Falwell — has gotten the gospel wrong. It’s time for other white evangelicals to call out the white American evangelical leaders who have yet to speak out against the racial politics of President Donald Trump in his campaign, in his first 100 days, and going forward. The integrity of the church is at stake, as is our relationship with our brothers and sisters of color in United States, and our loyalty to the global multi-color majority of the body of Christ.

Let’s go back to Falwell’s characterization of Trump as a “dream president” for evangelicals. He can only mean white evangelicals. I can testify to a legion of conversations with African-American, Hispanic, and Asian-American evangelicals who would describe Donald Trump as a “nightmare” president. Ditto for almost all black parents and black pastors. Certainly Trump is a nightmare for Hispanic people in America, who are living under fear of their families being destroyed by the new president’s aggressive deportation policies.

That Trump is the dream president for people like Falwell and such a nightmare for the vast majority of evangelical, Pentecostal, and Catholic Christians around the world, and our brothers and sisters of color in the United States, really says it all.

This stark contrast reveals white evangelical Christianity in America as a bubble — a very destructive one, and one that is about to burst.

By Jim Wallis

Posted by The NON-Conformist