Donald Trump – profaner, adulterer, abuser, con artist, potential tax cheat – and celebrated champion of the American evangelicals.
I’ve watched with heartbreak, as respected members of the American church body have laid their offerings of praise at this man’s feet.
I’ve lamented a church that puts politics over their faith because, as I’ve been told so many times, they felt they had no other options.
In other words, adhering to their faith was not an option. They were forced to choose between two evils (they believed), so they chose the “lesser” evil and called it good.
I’m also not of the belief that Christians should divorce themselves from the political process. I’ve stood in the pulpit of my own church and spoke to the congregation about the Constitution, the powers the church has through the First Amendment, the damages done when those in Washington ignore the 10th Amendment, and the importance of Christians voting their faith.
I’ve even advised about setting up voter registration booths within the church.
Yes, you can absolutely do that and it violates nothing.
My point then, as now, is that there are values Christians across the world hold dear, and Donald Trump violates all of them. Those things taught from the pulpit should spur us to expect better out of our political leaders – not to institute a theocracy, as some believe is the goal, but to stay true to our faith. Our focus should not be on political wins above the coming kingdom of God.
So what if this is really who we are, as a nation?
We get the leaders we deserve. They are a reflection of those who vote for them. If our leaders are corrupt, it is because the people are corrupt, and sadly, America’s Christians have not done a great job of distinguishing themselves from the world.
I wrote on Wednesday about the persecution of China’s Christian community, oppressed by an atheistic, Communist government.
Christians in China are being jailed. Their Bibles and religious figures are being destroyed and they’re being forced to sign away their allegiance to Christ, in favor of their government.
China isn’t even the most oppressive region for Christians in the world! They’re 43rd out of the top 50.
Interestingly enough, the number one spot for Christian persecution belongs to North Korea, as Christians there face ghastly punishment and oppression for their faith. The Kim regime is brutal to those who claim faith in a God over him.
And Donald Trump speaks in glowing, respectful terms about Kim Jong Un. Remember that, American Christians, when you next take to your knees before the MAGA altar.
As a Christian in America, your “oppression” is from your first world problems. You’re free to worship. No one is coming for you if you carry your Bible or wear your cross right down Main Street USA.
I pray before every meal at every restaurant I visit, and I have never had anyone try to stop me. I’ve never been reported for it, hauled out, questioned by authorities.
We are not suffering for our faith. For that, I am grateful, but that lack of testing has certainly blinded us to the plight of our brothers and sisters who have not been so blessed.
Middle Eastern Christians, desperate to escape oppression and danger in their homelands have now been caught up in some of Donald Trump’s policies, even after he promised to help them.
The number of Christian refugees granted entry into the U.S. has dropped by more than 40 percent over the past year, a decline of almost 11,000 refugees. They have been caught in the wider net of President Donald Trump’s tough stance on immigration and refugees, which has lowered overall refugee admissions by the same percentage.
Even Christians from the Middle East who have lived in the U.S. for years have been caught in the administration’s wider crackdown on immigration, with dozens of Iraqi Christians now in detention and facing the threat of deportation.
Also, a group of Iranian Christians are stuck in Austria now, believing that they would be granted asylum in the United States, only to be stopped by Trump’s travel ban.
The group of Iranians is mostly Christian, including Armenians and Aramaic-speaking Assyrians, but there are also representatives of other religious minorities — Zoroastrians, Mandeans and Jews. The Iranians have been stuck in a legal purgatory in Austria, some for as long as two years, as they await entry into the U.S.
The Iranians in Austria applied for admission to the U.S. under the Lautenberg-Specter program, which was designed as a pathway to America — via a short stay for processing in Vienna — for religious minorities fleeing oppression from the former Soviet Union and Iran.
Until now the program — which dates back to the Cold War — has operated smoothly for years, with an acceptance rate close to 100 percent. But due to unprecedented delays, the short stay has stretched into as long as two years for some of the Iranians in Vienna, where they are unable to work and have become destitute.
That’s not helping.
A refugee rights organization, the International Refugee Assistance Project brought a class action suit against the U.S., on behalf of those Iranian refugees, claiming Homeland Security had violated the Lautenberg law.
Apparently, the reasons given from DHS for denying entry were vague, at best. A court order states that if they deny entry again, the reasons given must be more clear.
Some of the stories are pretty awful.
One of the refugees, referred to in anonymous testimony in a court filing as Jane Doe 5, is an Iranian Christian widow stranded in Vienna with her 90-year-old father and disabled son.
After the death of her husband in Iran, she said, “it was extremely difficult for me to secure a job due to the unwillingness of the majority Shiite population to hire Christians.”
She said that her son, who suffered from epileptic seizures, was refused medical attention because doctors “would often refuse to touch him because Christians were ‘unclean.’”
One day she was assaulted in broad daylight at a local market, she said, but chose not to report the incident to police because her assailants warned her she would face criminal punishment.
Her sister-in-law, based in the U.S. applied for her asylum, based on what she knew about the Lautenberg law. She felt she’d only be left in Vienna for several months, as part of her processing.
“I sold most of our possessions at below market rates in the expectation that we would not be returning to Iran,” Doe 5 said.
She’s been in Vienna since February 2017. She was interviewed by DHS personnel, then she, her father, and her son all received the same letter, denying their entry, and the only reason given was a box checked, “other reasons.”
You can’t get much more vague.
“Mass denials of Iranian religious minorities stuck in Vienna demonstrate how religious minorities have been harmed under this administration,” said Mariko Hirose, litigation director for the International Refugee Assistance Project.
Refugee advocates told NBC News some of the Iranians have become homeless and some have taken to selling their blood plasma to help them feed their families.
A State Department spokesperson said the Iranian applicants to the Lautenberg program “are subject to the same stringent security vetting processes that apply to refugee applicants of other nationalities considered for admission to the United States of America.”
Christians, unlike some religious minorities, are recognized under Iran’s constitution but regime authorities regularly raid churches, arrest and imprison Christians and target evangelical Christian converts, according to a report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a federal commission.
Interestingly enough, under the same Lautenberg law, Christian refugees from Ukraine and former Soviet republics are moving through the process at a comfortable pace.
In May 2017, Vice President Mike Pence gave a speech, where he rightly pointed out that Christian communities in the Middle East are in jeopardy, and noted that the Trump administration was ready to help.
The administration touts aid sent to Christian communities in these regions, and that’s a good start, but the policies being fomented in the bowels of Trump’s Cabinet, spearheaded by men like Stephen Miller are sweeping up Christian refugees and leaving them in dire straits.
Does Trump care?
Considering they don’t vote, I wouldn’t count on it.