When Mean Christians Happen to Good People

I guess when Donald Trump gave his acceptance speech for his nomination as the Republican presidential candidate at last year’s RNC, when he said that he would work to protect the rights of the “L…..G…..BT…..Q….community,” that he was either lying, didn’t quite grasp what “working to protect” meant, or he didn’t fully anticipate that 81% of the people who would vote for him would be white evangelicals who don’t want him to work to protect those rights. But being that he exhibits all the telltale traits of being a gaslighting narcissist–lacking empathy and compassion and a conscience, and constantly calling people’s grasp of reality into question by denying videotape and transcript and Twitter-feed evidence, and calling it fake news–he most likely had no intention to, and doesn’t care what he promised. To be very clear, I am not a mental health clinician, I’m simply a guy who has done a lot of research on the topics of gaslighting and narcissistic personality disorder and abuse. (Trust me. If you were mentally, emotionally, and spiritually abused by one, you’d do a lot of research into the topic yourself.) But also, I work with a bunch of mental health specialists for a living. So I’m not just throwing out provocative catch words, hoping you’ll be impressed. At the end of the day, the dude may just be a mindless jerk, who has tapped into the hearts of other mindless jerks. (Some of them, I assume, are good people.)

I would love to be optimistic right now, and say that he’s on a year-long learning curve, and he’s just learning how to be presidential, but unfortunately I can’t. I can simply look at how he ran his campaign, and say that all the evidence shows that he really is, amongst everything else, a hate-mongering bigot. Just the way he responded to the allegations of sexual misconduct–accusing his accusers of being gold diggers–should show the content of this man’s character and heart. At the end of it all, because it will meet his narcissistic supply and make him so happy, he will cater to those who love him just as much as he loves himself, but everyone else will be overlooked or discriminated against.

Take the latest story about Trumpelstiltskin banning certain words at the CDC. A story broke that the terms “fetus,” “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based” are now forbidden to be used by the CDC. Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, the director of the CDC has denied this claim, stating on Twitter, “I want to assure you there are no banned words at CDC. We will continue to talk about all our important health programs.” So there is a glimmer of hope here; however, this wouldn’t be the first time the CDC was forbidden from doing its job to its fullest capacity (even taking Dr. Fitzgerald’s statement into consideration). In the 90s, the Dickey Amendment was passed so that no funds could be allocated to the CDC for research into gun violence, because everybody’s favorite billion dollar lobbyist group was worried that this research would then be used to craft legislation about guns. I know! Imagine the audacity of Congress making an educated decision on legislation, and possibly making it more difficult to get a gun. My heart doth break.

So let’s meet in the middle here, and say that maybe this story isn’t true. Maybe this is a story that the Washington Post got wrong. Even the best journalists can get it wrong. I mean, look at Hannity, Right! But the Post is known for its extensive fact checking before it publishes a story. (A few weeks ago, a person trying to discredit the Post was themselves easily discredited by the Post’s fact checking department.)

On the other hand, maybe it is a true story, and Dr. Fitzgerald, in her own way, is saying that no amount of pressure by the executive branch will hinder the CDC, because public health is more important than presidential ego. Why would a newspaper that is currently under attack as being fake news publish a story that isn’t true? So it’s safe to say that there may be some merit to the claim.

So, I would like to hope that the story is false, but given the M.O. of this administration, I wouldn’t put it passed them. And if it’s true, what does that say about this administration? Nobody finds it odd that the very people who call themselves “The Resistance,” are also the target of this supposed vocabulary ban? And if it is indeed true that the CDC is forbidden from these words, isn’t it a reasonable conclusion that according to this administration, the health and wellness of those who would use such words, or those who belong to such groups, deserve to be discriminated against by the highest office in the land?

Another word for it is Christian Privilege. If I were among those 81% white evangelicals who voted for this man, I’d feel so cared for. I wasn’t forbidden from wishing people a merry Christmas, but thank God we can finally say it again! There will be a nativity in the White House for the first time since… 2016. And finally, an administration who matches my version of Christianity. I would be in paradise right now.

But since I do not count myself amongst this particular group, and I am not easily swayed by political candidates who call themselves Christians, and many of my friends are the ones who make up the “bad group,” this is yet another straw on an already overloaded camel’s back. And my M.O. is usually to let my Snark Flag fly in these situations. But, ironically, not toward The Great and Powerful Walking Block of American Cheese. The more this presidency goes on, the more emboldened stupid Christians become. And when stupid Christians speak, they prove what it is they actually worship.

For example, the more I read these Christians’ responses to people on my team, the more I’m convinced that they are biblically illiterate. Oh, they’ll read it. But rest assured, they aren’t interpreting what they are reading. And when you read Scripture without doing the work of figuring out its meaning, you can make Scripture, and therefore God, say anything you want it to say. The most frequent example I can provide are discussion threads in which these certain Christians will insult and abuse the people they are talking to, especially if those people are liberal millennials, but if that person says one cross thing about Trump–not Jesus, the Bible, or anything about the Christian faith–those Christians reply with, “That’s mean, hateful, and unloving. And you’re not a true Christian for saying it.” Because apparently you aren’t supposed to call the president a brainless moron…if his name isn’t Barack Obama. And that just points out more of the hypocrisy of this group. But it’s damn near impossible to challenge them on it, because they’ve so married their faith to a political party, that, as I’ve said in other posts, to question their politics is to question their faith.

But I have to always laugh so hard when they say things like, “You can’t be a Christian and say mean things.” And my response is generally, “I guess you don’t read the Bible much, especially the prophets and gospels.” Some of the prophets compared the wealthy women in their community to donkeys sniffing the wind in heat. Other prophets said that God’s people were acting like shameless whores. Jesus called the religious elite of his day white washed tombs, and still worse, sons of the devil. There’s even a whole section of Woes (essentially divine curses) toward these elite men of faith. The apostle Paul called one group a bunch of mangy mongrel dogs, running around the street nipping at people’s heels. So perhaps it’s not the actual words that we use that are the problem. Perhaps the actual problem, other than a misunderstanding of Scripture, is that these Christians don’t like that their guy is the one being made fun of, and not the one they want it be. Or maybe it’s the implication that they helped make all this happen, but they don’t want to take responsibility for their vote. And they’re the ones constantly accusing liberals of only hearing what they want to hear!

But to bring it back to privilege and the CDC, it’s not unloving in and of itself to say not so nice things about people. Especially when those people are discriminating against groups of people based on age, race, gender, religion, country of origin, and sexuality. Preventing the CDC from operating at its fullest capacity just so the 4-5 can appease the 81% white evangelicals who voted for him seems a little more hate-full than calling him a petulant man child with a Twitter account. His ego is at risk. These groups’ health and wellness is at risk. He’s supposed to represent 318 million people. These groups are supposed to live with the Human Rights God has given them. He is a public servant. These groups are the public he serves. If he doesn’t like that, he can always go back to being a reality tv show host. And if those certain Christians don’t like that, perhaps they can finally meet the Jesus of the Bible who was unjustly arrested, tried by a kangaroo court, and murdered in the most humiliating and painful way possible.

As for those in The Resistance: The greatest weapon in resistance is hope. And the greatest hope I can offer you is that the Jesus of the Bible–the Jesus that actually existed in history–is nothing like what mainstream Christianity makes him out to be. That Jesus is a sociopath who has no compassion or conscience, and is a raging narcissist. The Jesus that existed in history, the one who was a flesh and blood homeless Jewish preacher from Nazareth, was called the bastard son of a whore, and was ultimately murdered because he had the audacity to say that God is far more compassionate than what was being peddled. That Jesus decided to choose grace and mercy and love over power and praise. And since you’ll never get one from them, I would like to offer my sincerest apology on behalf of all reasonable Christians, for how that group treated you. You didn’t deserve to be the latest target of their hate. Jesus would never treat a person that way.

Peace!

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An Open Letter to Franklin Graham

Dear Mr. Graham, 

I’ve watched you over the years. 

As a kid, I was first introduced to you through an interview in which you shared your life story. You shared how you cursed your father’s name and faith, and ran from God, but God saved you nonetheless. I remember the funny story you told about that one time you chopped down a tree with a machine gun. 

I watched when you stepped into your father’s role, and took over his evangelistic mission to the world. From the outside looking in, you seemed like a genuinely tenderhearted, compassionate person.

I have commended you for your work with Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child, by which you bring simple Christmas gifts to children throughout the world living in poverty and pain. 

A friend of mine, whose mother was tragically killed in a car accident when he was a teenager, once told me how you and your wife essentially adopted he and his brothers, so that his father would not have to raise them all on his own. 

I was impressed by how, in television interviews, you could take any question, and turn it back to the Gospel. I mean, it’s something you’re infamous for. “Mr. Graham, do you think children should have seat belts on school busses?” “That’s a great question. I’m not really sure what the answer is. But it reminds me of a day, 2000 years ago, when Jesus told his disciples to come to him like little children…”

Which is why I find your endorsement of Donald Trump, the message of your 2016 American tour, and your recent comments about the Election on Facebook, so frustratingly odd. It’s not surprising to me that you would endorse conservative politicians over liberal ones. Being that you lean right yourself, I would have been more shocked if you had endorsed a liberal. That is neither here nor there. 

But you toured this country, making a stop in all 50 states, and preached a warning to American Christians to beware of those “godless liberals, and their atheistic progressive agenda.” Once again, I wasn’t surprised by your message. It’s one that you have become known for in recent years. 

I was very shocked by your endorsement of Donald Trump, though. It’s one thing to endorse a conservative over a liberal. That’s just politics. It’s another matter altogether when the man that you’re endorsing openly ran his campaign on racism and xenophobia. 

Mr. Trump blamed undocumented Mexican immigrants for America’s economic woes, when in fact research done by The Pew Research Center shows that they only make up 52% of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in our country, and that that percentage has decreased during the Obama administration. I realize that 52% is a high number, but by only focusing on Mexican immigrants (and calling them criminals, rapists, and drug dealers) Mr. Trump overlooks the data that a large portion of those 11 million people came to the US with a legal work visa, and overstayed their welcome. Moreover, this research shows that these folks are less likely to commit crime, and can’t participate in our social serives, because that would run the risk of being sent back home, wherever that is! 

Mr. Trump called for a registration of all Muslims living in the US because a certain radicalized few committed acts of terrorism in the name of Islam. Would you support a Christian Registry, if ISIL called themselves a Christian group, or if those acts of terror were committed in the name of Jesus? I doubt that you would. 

Mr. Trump’s history of misogyny and sexism has been well documented, even before his campaign and the leaked tape with Billy Bush. And time does not allow me to go into his history of litigation, numerous failed business ventures, constant lies, and overall human indecency. 

But you, together with James Dobson and other leading evangelical voices, brushed all that aside, and uncharacteristically excused it, claiming that Mr. Trump was a “baby Christian.” His words and actions, and peoples’ consciences – Christians’ consciences – didn’t matter to you nearly as much as his political platform. It is as if the prospect of conservative judges on the Supreme Court, and a President that said marriage is one man, one woman, blinded you! Or worse, made strength of character obsolete. 

This thought was only amplified by your recent comments in The Charlotte Observer. It wasn’t the Russians who intervened in this year’s election, it was God. At least you admitted that you can’t substantiate your claim, and that it’s just something you believe. 

But surely you understand that if God intervened in this election, and answered the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people praying for this country, it stands to reason that he did the same in 2008 and 2012 with President Obama. And surely you understand that when Paul told Timothy to pray for governing officials, and when he told the Romans that all government was set in place by God, that he was referring to Roman Emperors, who were actually violently persecuting the Church. Such is the mystery of a sovereign God acting in his providence. 

Or have you forgotten the message of the Gospel upon which you and your father built your legacy? The same Gospel that calls the unrighteous to repent of their unrighteousness, calls the righteous to repent of their damnable good works. In The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned the religious that merely obeying the Law was deceptive, because it gave the appearance of faith, when their hearts were far from him! “Depart from me, I never knew you!”? Being a prodigal son, I would hope that this concept is not lost on you, or that you have not now become the elder brother refusing to come to the celebration. 

Though I do enjoy making fun of you, I do not condemn you. Nor do I wish you ill will. But I do condemn your one-sided Gospel, which has allowed you to demonize liberals, and idolize conservatives. 

Do good in this world; if necessary, involve the government. And if you believe in a God in Heaven, well, can you think of a more qualified helper?!? The First Century Church didn’t have a political voice, and yet they made certain laws and social practices obsolete! I envision the same for the Church in America. 

Peace be with you!

Keith Holmes