I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times and I think that he wanted Donald Trump to become president, and that’s why he’s there and I think he has done a tremendous job in supporting a lot of the things that people of faith really care about.
The GOP believes they are GOD’S ONLY PARTY; the party of Christian family values and morality. The following hilarious video shows what Jesus might have said if his teachings reflected the policies and values held by many Republicans. Enjoy.
As White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow recently put it, “The single biggest story this year is an economic boom that is durable and lasting.”
Really? Look closely at the living standards of most Americans, and you get a very different picture.
Yes, the stock market has boomed since Trump became president. But it’s looking increasingly wobbly as Trump’s trade wars take a toll.
Over 80 percent of the stock market is owned by the richest 10 percent of Americans anyway, so most Americans never got much out of Trump’s market boom to begin with.
The trade wars are about to take a toll on ordinary workers. Trump’s steel tariffs have cost Ford $1 billion so far, for example, forcing the automaker to plan mass layoffs.
What about economic growth? Data from the Commerce Department shows the economy at full speed, 4.2 percent growth for the second quarter.
But very little of that growth is trickling down to average Americans. Adjusted for inflation, hourly wages aren’t much higher now than they were forty years ago.
Trump slashed taxes on the wealthy and promised everyone else a $4,000 wage boost. But the boost never happened. That’s a big reason why Republicans aren’t campaigning on their tax cut, which is just about their only legislative accomplishment.
Trump and congressional Republicans refuse to raise the minimum wage, stuck at $7.25 an hour. Trump’s Labor Department is also repealing a rule that increased the number of workers entitled to time-and-a-half for overtime.
Yes, unemployment is down to 3.7 percent. But jobs are less secure than ever. Contract workers – who aren’t eligible for family or medical leave, unemployment insurance, the minimum wage, or worker’s compensation – are now doing one out of every five jobs in America.
Trump’s Labor Department has invited more companies to reclassify employees as contract workers. Its new rule undoes the California Supreme Court’s recent decision requiring that most workers be presumed employees unless proven otherwise. (Given California’s size, that decision had nationwide effect.)
Meanwhile, housing costs are skyrocketing, with Americans now paying a third or more of their paychecks in rent or mortgages.
Trump’s response? Drastic cuts in low-income housing. His Secretary of Housing and Urban Development also wants to triple the rent paid by poor households in subsidized housing.
Healthcare costs continues to rise faster than inflation. Trump’s response? Undermine the Affordable Care Act. Over the past two years, some 4 million people have lost healthcare coverage, according to a survey by the Commonwealth Fund.
Pharmaceutical costs are also out of control. Trump’s response? Allow the biggest pharmacist, CVS, to merge with the one of the biggest health insurers, Aetna — creating a behemoth with the power to raise prices even further.
The cost of college continues to soar. Trump’s response? Make it easier for for-profit colleges to defraud students. His Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is eliminating regulations that had required for-profit colleges to prove they provide gainful employment to the students they enroll.
Commuting to and from work is becoming harder, as roads and bridges become more congested, and subways and trains older and less reliable. Trump’s response? Nothing. Although he promised to spend $1.5 trillion to repair America’s crumbling infrastructure, his $1.5 trillion tax cut for big corporations and the wealthy used up the money.
Climate change is undermining the standard of living of ordinary Americans, as more are hit with floods, mudslides, tornados, draughts, and wildfires. Even those who have so far avoided direct hits will be paying more for insurance – or having a harder time getting it. People living on flood plains, or in trailers, or without home insurance, are paying the highest price.
Trump’s response? Allow more carbon into the atmosphere and make climate change even worse.
Too often, discussions about “the economy” focus on overall statistics about growth, the stock market, and unemployment.
But most Americans don’t live in that economy. They live in a personal economy that has more to do with wages, job security, commutes to and from work, and the costs of housing, healthcare, drugs, education, and home insurance.
These are the things that hit closest home. They comprise the typical American’s standard of living.
The marginalized, the abused, those culture perceives as weak — are often those whom Jesus served and defended first. In his most important sermon he called down blessing on “the meek,” “the mourning,” and those “starving for justice.” In fact, he died at the hands of those who mocked “truth” and used the legal system for self-serving ends. But his is a legacy of honor and it is a gift many of us embrace today.
With this in mind, let me list some truths I find alarming. National stats show that one out of every five women will be raped and one in six men will be sexually abused or assaulted. Such stats also unveil that less than 1 percent of rapists will be convicted of their crime, and the vast majority of sexual assaults are never reported. Research also shows that false accusations are incredibly rare (one local researcher claimed the number was .005 percent of all reported rapes are lies). So as we hear stories of sexual assault in the news and the lasting damage they have done not only to those on TV but to a large percent of our neighbors with similar stories, we need to acknowledge the abuse and marginalization of many among us. And Christians in particular need to be reminded that these kinds of people were those Jesus turned to serve and bless first.
When a sexual assault victim comes forward and tells her story at great cost to herself. When she says she remembers their laughter. She remembers fearing being suffocated more than being raped. She remembers bouncing from the bed when the second man jumped on it. She remembers locking herself in the bathroom, but cannot remember what day it happened or who else was in the house — these stories matter and they are the identical accounts of many not on TV. They have the ping of truth for sexually abused teens will not know what to do after they have been violated. They will often hide their shame and try to put that memory as far away from themselves as possible — just so they can function.
The Kavanaugh nomination process for the Supreme Court this week shows how hopelessly broken the American government is right now, and as such how broken American society is. I am a white evangelical male, and I have been shocked that it is my Evangelical brothers and sisters — who for decades have been the most outspoken about high moral standards regarding sex — who have been among the most vocal in silencing the testimonies of sexual assault victims this month. In fact, according to a recent Marist poll, 48 percent of white evangelicals think a proven history of sexual assault should not disqualify someone from the Supreme Court, and 16 percent of white evangelicals would not answer the question at all.
When white evangelicals choose to support those accused of sex crimes without considering evidence, those who have been assaulted are listening! For those of us who were sexually abused when we were young, the words of Senators and the President and Christians around the country about the woman on TV aren’t about her. They are about us. You are speaking about our past which we haven’t told anyone. You are accusing us of having bad intentions and calling us liars. You are choosing not to advocate for the abused and marginalized, but to hold our hearts out, place them in an ashtray and smother them because you need to fill a government job.
How unlike Jesus. How truly pathetic. White evangelicals, stewards of Christ’s words and power, are sacrificing relationships and trust with the very kinds of people Jesus served and blessed first — and it needs to end now.
What follows was started by a woman named Lori Gallagher Witt. The brilliance is hers; the rest has been edited to best express similar, though not identical, opinions of those passing the main ideas on. I didn’t write this from scratch, but edited and added to a similar post to reflect my personal beliefs. I found this particular post on my editor’s Facebook page and have edited it to reflect my personal beliefs.
I’m a liberal. I wasn’t always a liberal. There was a day when I was a conservative. For many years I was a Fundamentalist Christian, a supporter and foot soldier in the Evangelical culture war. Today, I am a liberal, though I suspect many readers don’t know or understand what the word means.
Some of you suspected. Some of you were shocked. Many of you have known me for years, even the majority of my life. We either steadfastly avoided political topics, or I carefully steered conversations away from the more incendiary subjects in the name of keeping the peace. “I’m a liberal” isn’t really something you broadcast in social circles where “the liberals” can’t be said without wrinkling one’s nose. I live in a community where seven out of ten voters are Republican and even the Democrats tend to be religious conservatives.
While most of the readers of this blog skew towards the left, a fair number of you are Republican and voted for Donald Trump (or Jill Stein). You love my critique of Evangelicalism and you love my atheism, but you despise by liberal politics. I hope what follows will give you a better understanding of my political beliefs.
Then the 2016 election happened, and staying quiet wasn’t an option anymore. Since then, I’ve received no shortage of emails and comments from people who were shocked, horrified, disappointed, disgusted, or otherwise displeased to realize I am a liberal. Yep. I’m one of those bleeding-heart commies who hates anyone who’s white, straight, or conservative, and who wants the government to dictate everything you do while taking your money and giving it to people who don’t work.
Or am I?
Let’s break it down, shall we? Because quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of being told what I believe and what I stand for. Spoiler alert: Not every liberal is the same, though the majority of liberals I know think along roughly these same lines.
I believe a country should take care of its weakest members. A country cannot call itself civilized when its children, disabled, sick, and elderly are neglected.
I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Somehow that’s interpreted as “I believe Obamacare is the end-all, be-all.” This is not the case. I’m fully aware that the ACA has problems, that a national healthcare system would require everyone to chip in, and that it’s impossible to create one that is devoid of flaws, but I have yet to hear an argument against it that makes “let people die because they can’t afford healthcare” a better alternative. I believe healthcare should be far cheaper than it is, and that everyone should have access to it. And no, I’m not opposed to paying higher taxes in the name of making that happen.
I believe education should be affordable and accessible to everyone. It doesn’t necessarily have to be free (though it works in other countries so I’m mystified as to why it can’t work in the U.S.), but at the end of the day, there is no excuse for students graduating college saddled with five- or six-figure debt.
I don’t believe your money should be taken from you and given to people who don’t want to work. I have literally never encountered anyone who believes this. Ever. I just have a massive moral problem with a society where a handful of people can possess the majority of the wealth while there are people literally starving to death, freezing to death, or dying because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Fair wages, lower housing costs, universal healthcare, affordable education, and the wealthy actually paying their share would go a long way toward alleviating this. Somehow believing that makes me a communist.
I don’t throw around “I’m willing to pay higher taxes” lightly. I’m self-employed, so I already pay a shitload of taxes. If I’m suggesting something that involves paying more, that means increasing my already eye-watering tax bill. I’m fine with paying my share as long as it’s actually going to something besides lining corporate pockets or bombing other countries while Americans die without healthcare.
I believe companies should be required to pay their employees a decent, livable wage. Somehow this is always interpreted as me wanting burger flippers to be able to afford a penthouse apartment and a Mercedes. What it actually means is that people should not have to work two full-time jobs and a part-time weekend job just to keep their heads above water. Restaurant servers should not have to rely on tips, multi-billion-dollar companies should not have employees on food stamps, workers shouldn’t have to work themselves into the ground just to barely make ends meet, and minimum wage should be enough for someone to work forty hours and live.
I am not anti-Christian. I have no desire to stop Christians from being Christians, to close churches, to ban the Bible, to forbid prayer in school, etc. (BTW, prayer in school is NOTillegal; *compulsory* prayer in school is — and should be — illegal) All I ask is that Christians recognize *my* right to live according to *my* beliefs. When I get pissed off that a politician is trying to legislate Scripture into law, I’m not “offended by Christianity” — I’m offended that you’re trying to force me to live by your religion’s rules. You know how you get really upset at the thought of Muslims imposing Sharia on you? That’s how I feel about Christians trying to impose Sharia-like biblical law on me. Be a Christian. Do your thing. Just don’t force it on me or mine.
I don’t believe LGBTQ people should have more rights than you. I just believe they should have the *same* rights as you and I — justice and equal protection under the law.
I don’t believe illegal immigrants should come to America and have the world at their feet, especially since THIS ISN’T WHAT THEY DO(spoiler: undocumented immigrants are ineligible for all those programs they’re supposed to be abusing, and if they’re “stealing” your job it’s because your employer is hiring illegally). I’m not opposed to deporting people who are here illegally, but I believe there are far more humane ways to handle undocumented immigration than our current practices (i.e., detaining children, splitting up families, ending DACA, etc.).
I believe we should take in refugees, or at the very least not turn them away without due consideration. Turning thousands of people away because a terrorist might slip through is inhumane, especially when we consider what has happened historically to refugees who were turned away. If we’re so opposed to taking in refugees, maybe we should consider not causing them to become refugees in the first place. Because we’re fooling ourselves if we think that somewhere in the chain of events leading to these people becoming refugees, there isn’t a line describing something the U.S. did (like dropping bombs on civilians and fomenting civil war).
I don’t believe the government should regulate everything, but since capitalistic greed is such a driving force in our country, we NEED regulations to prevent cut corners, environmental destruction, tainted food/water, unsafe materials in consumable goods or medical equipment, etc. It’s not that I want the government’s hands in everything — I just don’t trust people trying to make money to ensure that their products/practices, etc. are actually SAFE. Is the government devoid of shadiness? Of course not. But with those regulations in place, consumers have recourse if they’re harmed and companies are liable for medical bills, environmental cleanup, etc. Just kind of seems like common sense when the alternative to government regulation is letting companies bring their bottom line into the equation.
I believe our current administration is fascist. Not because I dislike them or because I’m butthurt over an election, but because I’ve spent too many years reading and learning about the Third Reich to miss the similarities. Not because any administration I dislike must be Nazis, but because things are actually mirroring authoritarian and fascist regimes of the past.
I believe the systemic racism and misogyny in our society is much worse than many people think, and desperately needs to be addressed. Which means those with privilege — white, straight, male, economic, etc. — need to start listening, even if you don’t like what you’re hearing, so we can start dismantling everything that’s causing people to be marginalized.
I believe in so-called political correctness. I prefer to think of it as social politeness. Not because everyone is a delicate snowflake, but because, as Maya Angelou put it, when we know better, we do better. When someone tells you that a term or phrase is more accurate/less hurtful than the one you’re using, you now know better. So why not do better? How does it hurt you to NOT hurt another person? Your refusal to adjust your vocabulary in the name of not being an asshole kind of makes YOU the snowflake.
I believe in funding sustainable energy, including offering education to people currently working in coal or oil so they can change jobs. There are too many sustainable options available for us to continue with coal and oil. Sorry, billionaires. Maybe try investing in something else.
I’m not interested in coming after your guns, nor is anyone serving in government. What I am interested in is sensible policies, including background checks, that MIGHT save one person’s life by the hand of someone who should not have a gun. I am also in favor of removing from the market military grade firearms. No one needs a clip that hold thirty bullets.
I believe that women should not be treated as a separate class of human. They should be paid the same as men who do the same work, should have the same rights as men, and should be free from abuse. Why on earth shouldn’t they be?
I believe that life begins at viability — at the point where a baby can survive outside the mother’s womb. But that’s my own belief. I do not have the right to impose my belief on anyone else. Nor do you. Abortions have happened since the dawn of history, for a variety of reasons — some good, some bad. They are not going to go away. Government has no business legislating morality. It does have a responsibility to create and educate people on possible alternatives. But neither the government, nor you, nor, I, can make that choice for another.
I think that about covers it. Bottom line is that I’m a liberal (and a humanist) because I think we should take care of each other. That doesn’t mean you should work eighty hours a week so your lazy neighbor can get all your money. It just means I don’t believe there is any scenario in which preventable suffering is an acceptable outcome as long as money is saved.
So, I’m a liberal.
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.
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Are you angry over how Donald Trump treats women and how he denigrates them publicly? Do you have passionate opinions about the sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump or Brett Kavanaugh? Do you support the #metoo movement? Do you have a personal story to share about being sexually abused, raped, or sexually harassed? Are you appalled by Evangelical support for President Trump, Brett Kavanaugh, and the idea that what happened in high school — even sexual assault — shouldn’t disqualify a man from public office? Are you sickened by how Evangelicals abandoned any sense of moral authority, choosing instead to be shills for the Republican Party? If so, I want to hear from you.
If you are a woman and have something you want or need to say on these matters, I want to extend to you an invitation to write a guest post (or multiple posts) for this site. I think it is important for readers to hear from women on these issues. Guest posts can be any length, and can either be written anonymously or under your own name. If you are interested in writing a post but fear your writing/English skills are lacking, please don’t let that hinder your participation. I have a first-rate editor who will edit your post, making sure the grammar and structure is correct. Your point of view will not be changed in any way. My editor is a progressive woman, so you can rest assure that she will do all she can to help you. You may have noticed frequent guest posts by ObstacleChick. OC is also a woman. Her recent letter to Evangelical women was posted as written with only a few minor grammatical corrections. She will tell you that I don’t alter content. It’s your story, and I want to provide a forum for you to tell it. You don’t have to be an atheist or agree with me to write a guest post.
Interested? Please email me expressing your interest via the Contact Form. I will then provide you with my private email address to which you can send me your post. All correspondence between us will be held in the strictest of confidence.
Two years ago, I believe that the prayers that God’s people made to ask God for his provision were heard. They were heard and granted and for two years, we have lived in an unparalleled golden time in the United States. We are living in an unparalleled golden time. We have a president who has made the most pro-life actions of any president ever. We have a president who has been the most pro-Israel president ever in the history of the United States of America. Our president has put the United States on a pathway of blessing … We have the most pro-religious liberty president in the history of the United States, ever! Do you see what a golden day that we have been given? On every possible level, America is killing it. We are doing great in every possible metric, and I believe that’s because God’s people utilized the tool that he gave us.
Monday, August 27, 2018, President Donald Trump and more than one hundred Evangelical leaders met together to fawn over each other. Drunk with political power — having unprecedented access to the White House — Evangelical leaders have lost their ability to speak truth to power. Concerned more with being the power behind the king than they are advancing the kingdom of the King of Kings, Evangelicals have turned themselves into just another political action committee within God’s Only Party — albeit a PAC with tremendous (and vicious) power. These so-called servants of the most high God assure Americans that despite his immorality, vulgarity, and criminal behavior, President Trump is really a great guy, a Christian even!
What follows is a live transcript of lying President Trump telling white, aging Evangelicals what they wanted to hear: you are special and I will do everything in my power to protect your favored status; but only if you keep Republicans in power come November.
State Dining Room
6:54 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: What a nice group. Thank you very much. Please.
Melania and I are thrilled to welcome you. And these are very special friends of mine, Evangelical pastors and leaders from all across the nation. We welcome you to the White House. It’s a special place. It’s a place we love. We’re having a lot of fun, we’re having a lot of success.
Today we reached the highest level in the history of the stock market. We broke 26,000 — (applause) — so I assume you have some stock. And I view that differently. We’re respected all over the world again, and it means jobs. So it’s a lot of good things happening.
Of course, these Evangelical leaders own stocks. Many of them, following in the footsteps of Jesus, are millionaires, having made their millions ginning up paranoia and fear.
Lie #1 — We’re respected all over the world again, and it means jobs.
The President thinks the rest of the world didn’t respect the United States before he was elected. Trump thinks by bullying the heads of other countries on the world stage, he can engender respect. Nothing could be farther from the truth. What Trump sees as respect is actually fear; fear of what this nut-job is going to do next.
I also want to thank a family of faith that is truly a blessing to our nation. I want to thank Vice President Mike Pence and Karen Pence. Where are you, Mike? (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you, Mike.
And our incredible First Lady for hosting this evening. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
America is a nation of believers. And tonight we’re joined by faith leaders from across the country who believe in the dignity of life, the glory of God, and the power of prayer. Everybody agree with that?
Lie #2 — America is a nation of believers.
No, it’s not. While it is certainly true that most Americans are Christian — at least in name — Trump seems willfully ignorant of the fact that not only is there great diversity among people who claim the Christian moniker, but tens of millions of Americans are non-Christians, unbelievers, NONES, atheists, agnostics, and humanists, to name a few.
President Trump has made no effort to engage any other religious group besides Evangelicals. In his mind, Evangelicals are a voter bloc that can be manipulated and used for political gain. End of story. When they no longer deliver votes and metaphorically allow Trump to carnally lie with them, he will drop them faster than he did Stormy Daniels.
AUDIENCE: Yes! (Applause.)
The sound of a hundred Evangelicals having orgasms at the same time.
THE PRESIDENT: If you didn’t, we’d have a big story, wouldn’t we? (Laughter.)
I want to say a special thank you to Paula White, Alveda King, Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, Darrell Scott, Robert Jeffress, Ralph Reed, Tony Perkins, Lester Warner, and everyone here tonight. So many great, great leaders. Incredible leaders. I know you, I watch you, I see you. Yours are the words we want to hear.
I also understand that tonight is the 58th wedding anniversary. So we have a very big wedding — where is he? Dr. James and Shirley Dobson. Where are they? (Applause.) Where are they? That’s great. Congratulations. That’s something.
MRS. DOBSON: Thank you for throwing a party of us tonight. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: That’s right. This is a party for you. We can look at it that way, actually. (Laughter.) Thank you. Congratulations.
We’re also joined by Secretary Alex Azar, Secretary Ben Carson –- hello, Ben –- (applause) — and Ambassador Sam Brownback. (Applause.)
Before going any further, I want to extend our prayers and condolences to the victims of the tragic shooting in Jacksonville, Florida. That was a terrible thing indeed. And how it happens, nobody really knows. But they’ve done an incredible job down in Jacksonville, as they always do in Florida and throughout the country. But condolences.
Lie #3 And how it happens [mass shootings], nobody really knows.
Yes, we do know. Guns, President Trump, guns. Want to reduce the number of mass shootings in this country? Support strict gun control laws. Stop supporting the violent policies of the NRA and second amendment extremists. One need only to look to Great Britain, Canada, or Australia to see how best to regulate firearms.
Also, our hearts and prayers are going to the family of Senator John McCain. There’s going to be a lot of activity over the next number of days. And we very much appreciate everything that Senator McCain has done for our country. So thank you very much. (Applause.)
Lie #4 — And we very much appreciate everything that Senator McCain has done for our country.
Then-candidate Trump mocked and ridiculed John McCain during the 2016 presidential campaign, saying McCain was a loser for getting captured during the Vietnam War.
Look at Trump’s childish behavior after McCain’s death: a refusal to release a statement about the senator’s death; a refusal to fly flags at half-staff.
We’re here this evening to celebrate America’s heritage of faith, family, and freedom. As you know, in recent years, the government tried to undermine religious freedom. But the attacks on communities of faith are over. We’ve ended it. We’ve ended it. (Applause.) Unlike some before us, we are protecting your religious liberty.
Lie #5 — As you know, in recent years, the government tried to undermine religious freedom.
There is no evidence for the oft-told Evangelical lie that American Christians are under attack and liberals want to restrict freedom of worship.
Lie #6 — But the attacks on communities of faith are over. We’ve ended it. We’ve ended it. We’ve ended it. Unlike some before us, we are protecting your religious liberty.
What are the real issues here? Evangelicals felt they were losing their hold on the collective scrotum of the American people. Voyeurs, they are, Evangelicals are obsessed with who is having sex with whom, when, where, and how. LGBTQ people asserting their constitutional rights has led to culture war skirmishes, but there has been no restriction of religious freedom as a result. Evangelical pastors will NEVER be required to marry same-sex couples, yet these same pastors continue to put the fear of gays in people, warning them if the Democrats (or any party but Trump’s party) regain political control, they will be forced to marry gay couples, and preaching against homosexuality will land them in jail.
In the last 18 months alone, we have stopped the Johnson Amendment from interfering with your First Amendment rights. (Applause.) A big deal. It’s a big deal.
Lie #7 — We have stopped the Johnson Amendment from interfering with your First Amendment rights.
The Johnson Amendment is still in effect, even though it is rarely enforced. Trump has no power to repeal the Johnson Amendment. I can count on one hand the churches and parachurch groups that have lost their tax exemption over politicking.
I actually support the repeal of the Johnson Amendment. You can read my thoughts on the subject here: The Johnson Amendment: I Agree With Donald Trump. Basically, I support its repeal. At the same time, the clergy housing allowance should be repealed, churches should be taxed like any other business, and religious institutions should be required to file annual tax returns.
We’ve taken action to defend the religious conscience of doctors, nurses, teachers, students, preachers, faith groups, and religious employers.
We sent the entire executive branch guidance on protecting religious liberty. Big deal. Brought the Faith and Opportunity Initiative to the White House.
Reinstated the Mexico City Policy we first put into place. And if you know, if you study it –- and most of you know about this –- first under President Ronald Reagan, not since then –- the Mexico City Policy. (Applause.)
We proposed regulations to prevent Title 10 taxpayer funding from subsidizing abortion. I was the first President to stand in the Rose Garden to address the March for Life. First one. (Applause.)
My administration has strongly spoken out against religious persecution around the world, including the persecution of Christians. All over the world, what’s going on. (Applause.) And for that, we’ve become not only a strong voice but a very, very powerful force. We’re stopping a lot of bad things from happening.
We brought home hostages from North Korea, including an American pastor. And we’re fighting to release Pastor Brunson from Turkey. (Applause.) And we’ve made (inaudible).
We’ve recognized the capital of Israel and opened the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. (Applause.)
We’re restoring opportunity for all Americans. African American, Hispanic American, Asian American unemployment have all recently achieved their lowest rates ever recorded in the history of our country. (Applause.) And women’s unemployment recently achieved its lowest rate in 65 years. (Applause.)
Very important to me, youth unemployment has reached its lowest rate in nearly 50 years. And unemployment for Americans without a high school diploma –- think of that — has reached its lowest rate ever. (Applause.)
We’re advancing prison reform to give former inmates a second chance. And these incredible unemployment numbers are probably the greatest thing that ever happened to people getting out and wanting a second, and sometimes a third, chance. But they’d come out of prison, and they were not hired, and bad things would happen, and they’d go back. Now they’re coming out of prison, they’re getting jobs. We’re working with them. And they are very, very thankful.
I’ll tell you who else is thankful: the employers. I have a friend who hired numerous people coming out of prison — something he never thought he’d do — and in a way, he was forced to do it, frankly. He was forced to do it by the fact that he couldn’t get people; he needed people. The numbers are so low in that community. He is so happy. He’s hired some people that he said he hopes he never loses them. They’re happy, and he is thrilled. So that’s a great story. A great story. (Applause.)
Every day, we’re standing for religious believers, because we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of American life. (Applause.) And we know that freedom is a gift from our Creator.
Lie #8 — We know that freedom is a gift from our Creator.
Without government, we would not have freedom for one and all. Without government, raw power and wealth controls who has “freedom.” It also can be argued that certain forms of religious expression result in loss of freedom. The Evangelicals who dined with Trump are, for the most part, theocrats. What do we know about theocracies? Freedoms are lost and people die.
Here in the State Dining Room, carved into this fireplace, is the famous prayer of John Adams. It says, “I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House.” And that’s really what it is. This is an incredible house. Means so much. It means so much to our country. It means so much to the world. And it means, really, so much to religion and to Christians. So it’s an honor to have you.
Lie #9 Trumps half-quote of John Adams
Here’s the complete quote:
I Pray Heaven To Bestow The Best Of Blessings On This House And All that shall hereafter Inhabit it. May none but Honest and Wise Men ever rule under This Roof.
“May none but HONEST and WISE men rule under This Roof.” Indeed.
Together, we will uplift our nation in prayer, defend the sanctity of life, and forever proudly remain one nation under God. (Applause.)
So thank you again to all of my friends and faith leaders for being here tonight. You are really special people. The support you’ve given me has been incredible. But I really don’t feel guilty because I have given you a lot back, just about everything I promised. (Applause.) And as one of our great pastors just said, “Actually, you’ve given us much more, sir, than you promised.” And I think that’s true, in many respects. (Applause.)
And now I would like to ask a tremendous friend of all of ours, Pastor Paula White, to come up and bless our meal. Paula, please. (Applause.)
I have nothing more to add. Evangelical love for Trump sickens me, and I would have felt this way back in the days when I was a Bible-preaching culture warrior. Character matters. Honesty matters. Morality matters. Decency matters. President Trump has none of these things, having bought the undying allegiance of Evangelicals by throwing them a few faux jewels. These stupid men (and women) are so enamored with their own self-importance and power that they cannot see that they are being played and used for political and material gain. One day, they will awake only to find their bed empty.
I paint with a broad brush in this post. If you are not one of “those” Evangelicals, then feel free to ignore what I have written. Or better yet, please explain to me why you are still an Evangelical. Surely, you don’t believe you can rescue Evangelicalism from itself.
My two favorite preachers are Jesse Custer (played by Dominic Cooper) on AMC’s hit series Preacher and Sidney Chambers (played by James Norton), an Anglican priest on Grantchester, a British period drama rebroadcast on PBS. Both men are doubters, preachers who understand the temptations of the flesh, and even, at times, give in to their wants and desires. In other words, unlike many of the self-righteous Pharisees who claim they speak for God, Custer and Chambers are worldly and quite human.
Both men question God’s existence, whether he answers prayer, and they wonder out loud if faith in God does more harm than good. Recently, I watched the four latest episodes of Grantchester. A repeating theme in Sidney Chambers’ struggles with faith is whether certain religious concepts (beliefs) cause suffering. Chambers is romantically involved with a woman, yet struggles with the vows he made to God and the church. This tension between desire and religious belief causes what Chambers calls suffering. It’s religion that says, thou shalt not have, yet supposedly the very God who says thou shalt not is the same God who created us with the desire for sexual intimacy and fulfillment. Chambers wants what he wants and, ignoring his beliefs, carries on a torrid affair. In the end, though, his commitment to the church and his desire to help others cause him to end his relationship with his lover. Whether Chambers will stay true to his calling until the end remains to be seen.
As I watched Grantchester, I pondered the notion that certain religious beliefs cause suffering, not only for ourselves, but for those who are close to us. I am an atheist, yet I readily admit that religious beliefs can and do provide many people with a sense of meaning, purpose, and direction. Viewed from an economic/cost-benefit perspective, Christians benefit from being part of a church and holding beliefs in common with their fellow congregants. As long as the benefits outweigh the costs, people will continue to engage in religious activities. It’s when the costs outweigh the benefits that people walk/run away from organized religion. When Christian faith becomes more of a hassle than it’s worth, people stop attending church; they stop giving their money to religious causes; they stop devoting time to religious exercises and activities.
Suppose you have a hamburger joint you love to frequent. You love their hamburgers, and their fries are awesome. Several times a week, you eat lunch at this hamburger joint, always using the drive-thru. One day, the restaurant staff messes up your order. You think, well, that happens from time to time. However, as time goes on, the staff continues to mess up your order — often putting cheese on your burger, even though you ask them not to. You complain to the manager, who says, I will make sure your order is made correctly.Here are a few coupons to compensate you for our mistakes.Great, you think. Problem solved. Unfortunately, the restaurant staff continues to mess up your order. And not only that, drive-thru wait times have doubled. One day, you wait fifteen minutes just to get your order, only to find out that for the millionth time they have put cheese on your hamburger. That it! you say. I am not going to eat here anymore. And off you go, searching for a new “best” hamburger in town. What happened? The costs (the wait time, wrong orders) outweighed the benefits (the “best” hamburger in town).
So it is with people and Christianity. For an increasing number of Americans, the costs of believing outweigh the benefits. Many Americans want to be viewed as kind, compassionate, thoughtful people. Who among us doesn’t want to be liked and respected? The problem for Evangelicals is that their commitment to Bible literalism and inerrancy forces them to defend behaviors and beliefs that are now considered immoral or indecent. In particular, younger Evangelicals have a big problem with how their pastors and churches treat LGBTQ people. They also have a problem with the increased politicization of the pulpit. Evangelical leaders are now calling for the abolishment of the Johnson Amendment — a regulation that forbids churches from partisan politicking as long as they are tax exempt. Taken as whole these things. and others, cast Evangelicalism in a bad light. Non-Evangelicals believe that Evangelicals are hateful bigots, even though many of them are not. Not wanting to be tarred with the same brush, many Evangelicals leave their churches — and some pastors leave their jobs, seeking out friendlier, more accepting churches. For these Evangelicals, the cost of believing outweighs the benefits.
The fastest growing sector of belief is that of the NONES — people who are atheists, agnostics, or who are indifferent towards religion. Evangelicals, in particular, are hemorrhaging younger adults. Evangelical talking heads are frantic over this generational loss. Well, except hardcore Fundamentalists. In their minds, quality is better than quantity. Sure it is. Just wait until the church pews are filled with aging, white-haired senior saints. You know, the Southern Baptist Convention. Once these people die off, then what? Without young adults, death is certain.
Gen X’ers and their parents love to bash Millennials; the snowflake generation they are called. Whatever shortcomings Millennials might have, one thing is for certain: they don’t have much love for organized religion. Why is this? Why are Millennials anywhere but church on Sundays? The blame squarely rests on the shoulders of Evangelicals and their cohorts in the Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and other conservative religious sects. These sects generally speak with one voice when it comes to issues such as premarital sex, homosexuality, abortion, same-sex marriage, and the matters affecting the LGBTQ community. It is this group who put Donald Trump in office, and most of the Millennials I have spoken to hate the President. They hate his treatment of undocumented immigrants, women, and LGBTQ people. They see his racism, bigotry, and support of the rich. And smack dab in the middle of this mess, Millennials see Evangelical Christianity.
Everywhere thoughtful people look, they see the suffering caused by religious beliefs. Evangelicals tell all who will listen that their God is the one true God and the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. It is in the Bible that God — not man — sets forth how humans are to live. Never mind the fact that the last words of the Bible were written two thousand years ago. In the minds of Evangelicals, the words of the Bible are as fresh and relevant the latest New York Times bestseller. They have convinced themselves that the Bible is unique, that it is different from all other books. Its words are inexhaustible. According to Evangelicals, someone can read the Bible from cover to cover hundreds of times and never exhaust the wealth of materials found within its pages. If you only own one book, Evangelicals say, let it be the B-i-b-l-e.
What suffering, you ask, is caused by Evangelical religious beliefs? Beliefs are benign, hurting no one, many Evangelicals think. Tell that to LGBTQ people who have been hounded and attacked by Evangelicals, all for demanding equal protection under the law and the same civil rights heterosexuals have. Tell that to Transgender people who have faced attack and ridicule over which bathroom they use. Tell that to pregnant women who want to terminate their pregnancy but can’t have one because Evangelicals have closed down clinics and defunded Planned Parenthood. Tell that to people who want to die with dignity but can’t thanks to Evangelical opposition to euthanasia. Worse yet, Evangelicals are generally war-mongers, supporters of the NRA’s interpretation of the Second Amendment, anti-immigrant, and anti-social safety net. It seems that the only lives Evangelicals care about are those still in the womb. Perhaps it would be better for me to point out which Evangelical beliefs don’t cause suffering and harm. Certainly there are teaching the Bible worthy of emulation and practice. The Sermon on the Mount comes to mind and does Matthew. Imagine how differently non-Christians might view Evangelicals if they dared to actually walk in the footsteps of the Jesus they say they love and follow?
Twenty-first century Evangelicals are quite free with their pronouncements about morality. Not content to just express their opinion, Evangelicals preface their moralizing with, THE BIBLE SAYS or GOD SAYS. In their minds, when God speaks, all discussion is over. There’s nothing worse than an Evangelical armed with certainty — a surety that breeds arrogance, bigotry, and hatred. In the 1970s, thanks to Moral Majority, Evangelicals got a taste of what could be accomplished with political power. Now drunk with this power, Evangelicals are demanding the United States be returned to its Evangelical roots. A people who once believed in a strict separation of church and state now act as if such a thing does not exist. President Trump, knowing that eighty-two percent of voting white Evangelicals voted for him, goes out of his way to give God’s chosen ones the desires of their hearts. His cabinet is stocked with Evangelicals, most of whom have little experience in government.
Yet, despite their gain of political power, Evangelicals helplessly watch as their churches decline in attendance and their congregations age. Instead of asking why this is, Evangelicals double down on their moralizing. Life begins at fertilization! Abortion is murder. Homosexuality is against God’s order! It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve! Marriage is between a man and a woman! God is anti-LGBTQ! God is pro-death-penalty, pro-war, and pro-gun! Whatever the Republican talking point is for the day, you can be sure Evangelicals support the matter. GOP=God’s Only Party! God is a Republican! God! God! God! God!
Well, God dammit, how about we start paying attention to how much suffering these beliefs are causing? Millennials are paying attention, and that’s why they are exiting churches stage left and right. If Evangelicals have their way, abortions will, once again, be performed in back rooms and alleys. If Evangelicals have their way, LGBTQ people will be driven to the utter darkness of the closets from whence they came. If Evangelicals have their way, atheists will be silenced and God returned to his “rightful” place in public school classrooms. Yes to school prayer! Yes to Bible reading is the classroom! Yes to creationism being taught in science classes! Yes to churches, pastors, and parachurch groups having ready access to public school students! What Evangelicals want is a return to the glory days of the post-World War II 1950s. No matter how much suffering such a move causes, all that matters is that Evangelicals (and ostensibly, their God) get their way. Unwilling to pray and wait on God, Evangelicals have turned to politics to gain their desired objective. In doing so, they have forsaken whatever moral ground they once held. The moment Evangelicals voted President Pussy-Grabber into office, their moral authority was gone.
All that’s left now is a bloody political struggle for the future of our Republic. Key to this struggle is making sure Millennial and Gen Xers’s alike see the suffering cause by religion. Evangelicals are supposedly having their own #metoo moment. It’s hilarious (and oh so sad) to watch Evangelicals attempt to find final their moral voice. Evangelical sects, churches, and leaders have been covering up sexual misconducts for as long as I can remember. And now, all of a sudden, they have found their conscience? I don’t think so. Their current self-flagellation is all about appearance, about showing the public just enough contrition to make people think that Evangelicals are serious about sexual assault and sexual harassment. They are not. If they were, Evangelicals would, with great haste undo the huge mistake they made the first Tuesday in November 2016.
That’s not going to happen. Evangelicals are addicted to political power, and the only way to undo the suffering and damage caused by their beliefs is to strangle the life out of their churches and centers of power. Evangelical beliefs must be driven out of the public square, onto the fringes of American life. Evangelicals are free to preach their beliefs in the public square, but their sermons must not be given a pass. The suffering they cause must be exposed and preached from the mountaintops. Our future is at stake. Millions of Evangelicals support bombing Iran, nuking North Korea, and deny the existence of global climate change. Left to their own ways, Evangelicals will turn the world into Cormac McCarthy’s dystopian novel, The Road, or the latest sequel of the Mad Max movies. In their minds, no worries! Jesus is coming soon! Who cares what happens to the world. For those of us without such deranged eschatological ambitions, we must continue fight against anything that increases suffering. And from my seat in the atheist pew, Evangelicalism is a religious form of BDSM, with the only difference being the pain and suffering caused to others is not consensual. Evangelicals despise multiculturalism, and if truth be told, many Evangelicals are out-and-out racists. What they want is a white monoculture where their religion reigns supreme. Those of us who want the world John Lennon spoke of in Imagine only have one choice: we must push back and fight until the enemy to vanquished. We must no longer give our silent consent to ignorance and bigotry. Picture for a moment what the lyrics of Imagine might say if Franklin Graham, James Dobson, John Hagee, or Robert Jeffress wrote them. Is that the kind of future we want to leave for our children and grandchildren? I know I don’t.
As I re-read this post, I thought, people who don’t know me might conclude that I really, really, really hate Evangelicals. Let me be clear, I don’t hate Evangelicals as people. It’s their beliefs I hate. I love polecats. Cute critters. But, get too close to one and up goes the tail and you’ll soon be covered with N-butlymercaptan — an awful-smelling chemical spray that is very hard to get off your skin and clothing. Evangelicals are like pole cats. Nice people, as long as you don’t get too close to them and let them spray you with their N-Godsays beliefs. And it’s not even the beliefs, per se. If Evangelicals want to follow their peculiar interpretation of what they believe is God’s infallible Word, so be it. Think abortion is a sin? Don’t have one. Think same-sex marriage is a sin? Don’t marry someone of the same sex. Think adultery is a sin? Fine, keep your dick in your pants or put an aspirin between your legs. Think _______________ is as sin? Don’t do it! No one, I repeat NO ONE, is keeping you from being the most holy, sanctified person since the man, the myth, the legend, Jesus, the Christ. (There is ZERO persecution of Evangelicals in America, contrary to the hysteria preached from pulpits.) That’s how it works in a secular state. Evangelicals are free to be the best little Jesus-lovers they can possibly be, and atheists are free to live, lust, luxuriate, and love until death comes calling. How atheists or Evangelicals conduct their private lives does not materially affect the other. Again, that’s what’s so great about living in a secular state, one that places great value on freedom of and from religion. It’s when Evangelicals demand preferential treatment for their religion or demand that the Bible be codified into law, that people such as myself have a problem. I cannot and will not idly sit by while religious extremists turn the land of the free and home of the brave into a theocracy. Don’t tell me that’s not your intent; I know better. True-blue Evangelicals will not rest until King Jesus sits on the throne, not just in America, but across the world. I remain your neighbor, Evangelicals. You are indeed a pretty sight. But as the wind blows, I get a whiff of your smell. Then I know I must not rest, lest polecats take over the world.