Dear Christians, we need to talk about Donald…
FOR a little over nine years my family and I lived at the northern end of an 11 mile beach in Aberdeenshire. It’s an untamed and beautiful place, filled with wildlife and wonder.
It is also Europe’s largest mobile dune system with sand dunes reaching up to a mile inland.
A few years ago a very powerful man contravened the protections of this Site of Special Scientific Interest and stabilised a stretch of the dunes so that he could build a big hotel complex and golf course there. That man was called Donald Trump.
I treasured the freedom and beauty of that place. I also treasure the freedom and beauty of our religion, of Christianity.
God will always be untameable and free, we cannot tie him down in our theologies and world views in the way that Trump secured those dunes.
But though God is not malleable and cannot be re-made in our image. I’m afraid some people are trying to do exactly that.
When loud voices in the church proclaim that what the Bible says again and again about welcoming the stranger and refugee does not apply to us today are we trying to re-make God in their image?
When Christian leaders proclaim that national security trumps compassion for the orphan and widow have we stopped listening to Jesus?
When we patriotically claim that God is for our nation and against others are we denying that God “so loved the world…”?
When in the name of God our powerful nations beat their ploughs into nuclear warheads do we undo the non-violent revolution of Jesus?
We need to turn again to the story of the Holy Week, to the account of Jesus’ passion and cross to be reminded that the call of the gospel is not to divide and conquer, the call of the gospel is to love our neighbour, love the stranger, love our enemy; the call of the gospel is to take up our cross, and to follow Jesus, and to proclaim that Jesus is Lord and that the caesars of Empire are not.
The religion being pursued by some Christians in the US is not the religion of Christ, it is the religion of Empire.
Perhaps Christian voters considered Trump the lesser of two evils? Whether this is true, or not, all Christians must be aware of the ways in which his agenda is profoundly anti-Christ.
Does that sound alarmist? We seem to be in an age when alarmist voices threaten to take the place of genuine debate. But could we also be living in another one of those moments that Martin Niemöller spoke about: "first they came for the socialists and I did not speak out..."?
We should pray for our leaders, we pray that God might turn their hearts towards the good in spite of their hubris - perhaps this is the best thing we can do right now.
The least helpful thing we could offer our world in this moment is a poorly thought through theological defence of this empire agenda.