In a delicious Cosmic irony, Easter falls on April Fool’s Day this year. When one surveys the state of organized religion in the world today it certainly seems like the disparity between the teachings and the actions of religious leaders makes it seem like we have a kind of cosmic expression of “April Fools!”. It can be discouraging and challenging for people of faith, but then again, it’s discouragement and challenge that is the well-spring of faith. So, fear not for your soul, and look at who are the April’s fools.
The real existential definition of religion is found in the political arena. When religions get political power, their true nature is defined. The American Evangelical Movement is the flag-bearer for the hypocrisy of modern religions with their unconditional support of Trump. Well, it may not be entirely unconditional, but there has been no condition so far that has forced the Christian gospel out of the Evangelical leaders. Nothing seems to be worthy of criticism of Trump who routinely violates their Ten Commandments: not lying, not adultery, not greed, not stealing, not coveting, or false idols. Not even violations of the fundamental teaching of Jesus – love your neighbor as yourself – have prompted any criticism or correction by the purveyors of Evangelism. The unspoken truth is that Evangelical leaders sold their souls over an agreement to appoint pro-life judges and to allow religious colleges to receive tens of millions in tax money while continuing to trample the Constitutional Rights of minorities, gays, etc. They sold out their gospel for financial and political power. Some Christian leaders justify their silence with the prospect of overturning Roe v. Wade. Abortion, they in effect argue, is too important to let the Gospel get in the way. Evangelical Christians say faith is their foundation, but faith in God to find a solution to abortions is secondary to faith in Trump. The problem is that their investment in political power comes at a cost to the validity of their teachings. The idea that one can make a deal with the devil to do God’s will is contrary to what they claim to believe. In fact, the history of Christianity is one of making such deals. From Inquisitions to King making, from burning heretics to endorsing candidates, Christianity has always resorted to the devices and methods of the devil to do “God’s will”.
Evangelical Christians defend the hypocrisy of their leaders with strained interpretations of biblical teachings on “forgiveness”. They invoke the stories of King David, who sinned but was favored by God. They conveniently forget that the story of David and the essential part of forgiveness is confession and repentance as the necessary predicates. David was a king who was a flawed man, but he was forgiven and kept power because he recognized he sinned, confessed his sins publicly and repented (i.e. changed his behavior). Just as David was more effective as a political leader because he admitted when he was wrong and changed, Trump is much more dangerous as a president who refuses to admit he did anything wrong or change in any way. Evangelical Christians seem to have more faith in Trump than they do in their Gospel.
Just as the GOP’s embrace of a corrupt President has undermined their credibility as the Party of “family values” and “fiscal responsibility”, American Evangelical Christians undermined their credibility of their gospel with their complicity. “April fools!” compliments of your leader, Donald Trump.