Is this really who we are?

The hypocrisy of The Right was much in evidence as our national nightmare ground into its second week and the third-grader in the White House started making good on his unconstitutional promises. My Facebook pages have blown up with liberals posting as fast as they can to keep up with No. 45’s violations of civil rights and the right-wingnuts falling over themselves defending him.

One of the fault lines along which this earthquake has broken is the religion line, specifically the Christian one. For decades, the religious right has worked tirelessly to do the one thing they once declared must never be done – direct political policy from the pulpit.

My earliest memory of the religion-in-politics debate was 1960. I was nine years old and John Kennedy was running against Richard Nixon, and Protestant religious conservatives in America – including Billy Graham, the closest thing Protestants ever had to a saint – constantly thumped the anti-Catholic tub. If we elect a Catholic, the argument went, America would soon be taking orders from Rome.

Nowhere was that lunacy more prevalent than in the sandhills and wheat fields around my home town (which has, most recently, produced the junior senator from Colorado, something the sandhillbillies are inexplicably proud of.) My own father, whom I would later come to view as one of the most liberal conservatives I’ve ever known, confided in me that the purpose of the Knights of Columbus was to eradicate Protestantism. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Catholics weren’t even allowed to be Freemasons (gasp!) and how could you trust a man who could never be a Mason? Why, George Washington was a Mason … yadda, yadda, yadda.

The antidote, then, was to bellow loud and long that Americans needed to remember that religion must never be mixed with politics. I remember our Methodist minister thundering from the pulpit that religion and politics must never mix, that the Constitution specifically banished religion from government, which was fine because it also banished government from religion. “Separation of Church and State” became a reason to vote for Nixon (who would later be exposed as one of the most un-Godly men ever to hold the office) and in rural Colorado the vote for president fell almost entirely along sectarian lines.

How times have changed. The children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those Yuma County Protestants have not only abandoned the idea of separation of church and state, they’re actually declaring, sometimes with a straight face, that ours is, if not an official Christian nation, at least a nation founded on Christian principles.

I suppose it started with banning prayer from school. The beef-eating peasants were more than happy to disdain the fish-eaters for their silly rules and saints, and snort with derision at their un-American, top-down management system. But when the Supreme Court kicked Our Lord and Savior out of the classroom, well … we didn’t really consider schools part of government, did we?

Now we have the supporters of the Pussygrabber-in-Chief, good Christians all, scrambling to defend a government policy that would ban adherents to one particular religion from entering the United States, while it opens the door wide to adherents to another religion with no vetting whatsoever! Overwhelmingly, pro-45ers are not even bothering to cloak their bigotry in political terms, but are holding their burning crosses up high. Muslims are bad, Christians are good, and terrorism can only be stamped out by eradicating Islam. Or, at the very least, boxing it up “over there.”

Not surprisingly, the leaders in the religious community disagree, in many cases vehemently, with this position. Among the posts on my liberals, progressives, journalists, and/or atheists page were several from the local Presbyterian pastor, who was all over the immigration question with a series of posts that seemed to ask, “How could you!?  How dare you!?”

Even the pastor of our biggest Baptist church was busy pointing out to his flock that No. 45’s religion has nothing to do with Christ and everything to do with nationalism, and that’s a truly dangerous faith to follow. For those who don’t know my town, if you’re a prominent Republican and the Baptist big dog calls you out, you’ve done screwed up, son!

The clerical resistance to the White House mandate is as ecumenical as it gets around here. Several pastors in my town have re-posted an item that originated with the United Church of Christ; it’s a long list of biblical references to immigration and strangers in one’s homeland, and prominent among them is this one from Exodus: “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

I’m probably not in a good position to issue a blanket condemnation of the local faithful over this issue, being as ideologically distant from them as I am. But I do think it’s telling that while the pews seem to be perfectly happy with banning “mooslims” from America, the pulpits are not.

If ever there were evidence that people profess one way but act another, this is it. It’s time for American Christians to look deeply inside their hearts and question their beliefs. It’s time to ask yourself, “Is this really the kind of person I am?”

 

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