Sanders echoes a widely held Republican belief that the amoral sociopath in the White House is an instrument of divine power and part of God’s ultimate plan.

Religion has faced an on-going struggle between righteous and self-righteous behavior. Fear or a sense of superiority has too often turned one’s religious practice from righteousness to self-righteousness. Self-righteous persons allow their understanding of what is right or wrong to be God’s will.  Righteous persons seek a daily understanding of what it means to have a right-relationship with God by doing the right thing for other people. We can see examples of such heretical behavior in the Crusades, ISIS, the KKK and the White National movement.

Christianity is currently infected with the self-righteous behavior typical of the slave ownership era. Slave owners separated parents from their children, selling slaves like merchandise and used the Bible to justify the monstrous crime of slavery. Essentially, Sarah Huckabee Sanders indorses this when she claims that God “wanted Donald Trump to become president.” Sanders echoes a widely held Republican belief that the amoral sociopath in the White House is an instrument of divine power and part of God’s ultimate plan. Presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg applies the righteous question—What Would Jesus Do? —to guide religious conscience toward the actual teachings of Jesus.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., is a Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan, a Rhodes scholar, married to a junior high school teacher, gay, has declared his candidacy for president and most importantly, he works to maintain a righteous—right-relationship—with God. The mayor’s faith made him a progressive. The Sermon on the Mount was preached by a righteous progressive. Scripture directs Buttigieg to defend the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the societal castoffs.

Buttigieg says that when you look at Trump actions it’s hard to “…believe they are the actions of somebody who believes in God.” He challenges Mike Pence’s self-righteous understanding of scripture to endorse laws threatening the equal rights of marginalized persons. 

Trump’s inhumane policies profane the teachings of Jesus and the sacrifice he made on the cross. Jesus continues to be crucified with policies which put children in cages, destroy family units, incite violence against members of other races and religions. Trump’s latest doctored campaign video makes Rep. Ilhan Omar a target for violent right-wing crazies. His recent budget proposes massive cuts to Medicare, Social Security, WIC and other economic protections designed to aid families and the elderly. Would Jesus do this? NO! Is it being right with God? NO! 

Christ offers the best test to determine whether you are righteous or self-righteous. “Whatever you did to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did to me.” Christianity—as with the tenets of all major religions—calls us to be right with God. The righteous are to treat the sick, the hungry, the poor, the imprisoned as they would treat him. Shall self-righteousness or righteousness guide our nation? An angry Jesus over-turned the tables of the self-righteous money-changers when they cheated worshippers in the Temple and called it a “den of thieves”. It’s time for some righteous indignation. RESIST!

-Rev. Dr. Ira S. Williams, Gravois Mills