“Nothing is easier and more pathetic than being a critic, because they’re people that can’t get the job done,” President Donald Trump said from the podium at Liberty University on Saturday morning. The line, delivered by the leader of the free world—who has criticized via his Twitter account everyone from Rosie O’Donnell to recently fired FBI Director James Comey—was delivered in a commencement speech rife with generalized aphorisms and motivational quotes one might see on a local yoga studio’s Instagram account.
If you’ve ever doubted how thoroughly corrupt much of the American Evangelical movement has become, all you had to do was check out the President’s commencement speech at Liberty University. That a pathologically dishonest, thrice-married racist and bigot was welcomed at a Christian university speaks to the accuracy of my argument.
Donald Trump has historically represented everything anathema to the teachings of Jesus Christ…but 80% of White Evangelical voters cast their ballots for him. This President is a follower of Jesus Christ in the same way Snoop Dogg is an avowed anti-drug warrior. His cheap pandering feeds the persecution complex of the Evangelical community, who still haven’t realized it’s not possible to be a persecuted 75% majority.
“As long as I am your president, no one is ever going to stop you from practicing your faith,” Trump said to the crowd of newly minted graduates. He had already delivered, at least symbolically, on a promise he made the last time he spoke at the university as a candidate in January 2016.
“We’re going to protect Christianity, and I can say that. I don’t have to be politically correct,” Trump said at the time, at which point he also referred to one of the books of the Bible as “Two Corinthians.”
Never mind that freedom of religion is a constitutionally-guaranteed right. Never mind that it’s not really about religion at all. In this case, “persecution” is defined as denying Evangelical Christians the absolute right to force their narrow morality and intolerance on those who don’t share their beliefs. It’s about sitting in a pew and feeling holy…and then reverting to racism, bigotry, and intolerance as soon as your SUV peels out of the church parking lot.
Liberty University is as much about the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the Cleveland Indians are about winning World Series championships. The version of Christianity espoused there is an authoritarian, intolerant, bastardized doctrine intended to validate the pursuit of wealth, political power, and social control. It’s about a narrow worldview in which Christians sit at the top of the theological/ideological food chain. Those who can’t be brought to heel should rightfully expect to be destroyed- whether in actuality or metaphorically hardly matters. Evangelicals believe they and ONLY they have been ordained by Almighty God to rule the world. All others worship a false god and are therefore “less than” and unworthy of equal treatment.
Donald Trump isn’t one of them. His “faith” is a matter of convenience and political need. Evangelicals are willing to hear what they want and believe it to be an endorsement of their faith and desire for power. I have to believe that most good and decent Christians, those actually endeavoring to lead Christ-like lives, are embarrassed for their faith. Unfortunately, they’ve yet to find their voice…and so the Pharisees continue sucking up all the air in the room.
Nice work, America.