My maternal grandfather, John, was a big believer in public praying. Every time we went out to eat with him, everyone within earshot knew we were Christians. John meant for his prayers to some sort of public masturbation — visible to all. I still remember how embarrassed I was when John went about establishing his Christian testimony. Once John was finished praying, permission was granted for us to begin eating. At least once during the meal, John would force our waitress to listen to his testimony and presentation of the Evangelical gospel. John was well-known for these verbal assaults — a man who loved Jesus so much that he just had to share him with everyone. (Please see Dear Ann.)
Tim Tebow, a former NFL player, is known for kneeling and praying during games. His behavior is popularly called tebowing. Evangelicals love the fact that Tebow would, on national TV before millions of people, pray to their God. Evidently, God wasn’t listening. Tebow washed out of the NFL and is now trying to continue his narcissistic dream as a baseball player. Other sports figures imitate Tebow on the field, giving the impression that their God is a former jock himself and a big sports fan.
Republicans are another group who is fond of public praying. Holding prayer rallies and offering up prayers at their convention, these members of the GOP — God’s Only Party — send their prayers to Jesus, asking for the destruction of Hillary Clinton, socialists, atheists, and any other group deemed to be unpatriotic, anti-American, and anti-God. Yet, despite all their prayers, it looks like Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States. Millions of prayers uttered, and the best that God could do is Donald Trump?
Evangelical churches and parachurch groups — who overwhelmingly support the Republican Party — are also fond of public displays of prayer. It is Evangelicals who are behind the National Day of Prayer and See You at Pole, annual events meant to show the numerical significance of conservative Christianity. Many government meetings are opened with prayers to the Christian God, a reminder to everyone that America is a Christian nation.
Untold millions of Evangelical prayers have been uttered to God, asking him to put a Republican in the Oval Office. Most Evangelicals wanted Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, or Mike Huckabee. These men proudly exposed their Jesus-approved genitals for all to see. Yet, when the primary dust settled, Donald Trump was the winner. Perhaps the Evangelical God has a wicked sense of humor, giving Evangelicals one of most unqualified candidates in American election history. Dear Lord, please help us elect a Christian president, Evangelicals prayed. What God gave them was a narcissistic psychopath who brags about sexually assaulting women and grabbing them by their pussies. Is Trump some sort of sick joke by God?
Perhaps it is time for Evangelicals to actually practice what Jesus said about public praying:
Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (Matthew 6:1-8)
Instead of focusing on the external forms of religion, Evangelicalism would be better served if its followers focused on good works. Thanks to Evangelical support of Donald Trump and thirty-five years of warring against American culture, Evangelicals are widely known for vitriol and hate. They love to say, we hate the sin but love the sinner, but it is now abundantly clear for all to see that Evangelicals hate sinners too. Drunk with political power, Evangelicals arrogantly think that their religion and divine text should be enshrined as the one, true American religion. Their arrogance has put them at odds with Christians and non-Christians alike,
In many ways, my grandfather John was a precursor of what Evangelicalism would one day become — in-your-face, my-God is-the-one-true-God, you-are-going-to-hell, I-have-a-right-to-harass-you-in-Jesus’-name Christianity. To those who only knew John as a devout, aggressive evangelizer, he was the epitome of what every Christian should be. However, many of his family members knew the other John — an angry, violent man who took out his aggression on his children and grandchildren, a man who lived a sordid violent life before Jesus, including sexually assaulting his young daughter (my mother). When confronted about his vile past, John pleaded the miracle sin-washed-away blood of Christ. Any sin before Jesus is forgotten by God, John said, expecting everyone else to forget too.
Most Evangelicals will ignore what I have written here, choosing instead to attack the messenger. In doing so, they show the world that their religion has little to do with the teachings of Jesus and everything to do with political power and cultural control. The moment Evangelicals said they planned to support Donald Trump regardless of his behavior, any hope of saving themselves was lost. Post-election, Evangelicals will lick their wounds, vowing to work harder to put God’s man in the White House in 2020. If Democrats regain control of the Senate and pick up seats in the House, Evangelicals will pray and preach harder, certain that God will hear them and grant their petitions. He won’t, of course, because the Evangelical God is a figment of Christian imaginations. The Evangelical God, as with all Gods, is of human origin. As is often (always?) the case, people craft God in their own images. Evangelicals have crafted a God that bears no resemblance to the Jesus of the Bible. Does anyone seriously think Jesus, if he were alive today, would support the Republican Party and the orange-hair vagina grabber? Does anyone think Jesus would support Republican attacks on immigrants and the poor? Of course not.
It’s time for Evangelicals to reacquaint themselves with the Jesus they say they worship. Until they are willing to apologize for past sins and make restitution by concertedly helping those they previously marginalized, Republican Evangelicals can expect to continue losing elections and their grip on American culture.