In a recent article in the Washington Post, Stephanie McCrummen samples the passionate opinions of members the First Baptist Church of Luverne, Alabama. In their own words members provide the answer to the question: Why are some Christians able to embrace Trump and his message of hate, overlook his self-confessed immoral conduct and still cling to Christ and his teachings? As sampled below—they can’t. Instead, they yield their allegiance to Christ and his teachings to join a nationalist cult. It is impossible to maintain an inclusive love of Christ while yielding to one’s deep-seated prejudice.
A 67-year-old Sunday School teacher summed up the congregation’s embrace of Trump’s cult: “Love thy neighbor, she said, meant “love thy American neighbor.” “Welcome the stranger, she said, meant the “legal immigrant stranger.” “The Bible says, ‘If you do this to the least of these, you do it to me,’” Sheila said—quoting Jesus. “But the least of these are Americans, not the ones crossing the border.”
For her, the real “… moral threat to our country” is far greater than any character flaw Trump might have. She called it the “the racial divide.” She dismissed the talk about the “…legacy of slavery, which she never believed was as bad as people said it was. “Slaves were valued,” she said. “They got housing. They got fed. They got medical care.”
Any vestige of the moral compass offered by Christ is lost in the adoption of a cultic nationalist religion of hate and fed by one’s own personal intolerance. History records a similar cultic fervor of Nazism when many German Christians justified the annihilation of the Jews as Christ’s will. Rev. Martin Niemöller summed up the failed witness of German Christians in a poem. “First, they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Today’s victims are the families seeking asylum from fear, the LGBT community, Muslims, Jews and society in general. First Baptist Church of Luverne, Alabama—when they come for you will you be able to speak out for Christ’s inclusive love?
-Rev. Dr. Ira S. Williams, Jr., Gravois Mills