Following Jesus in the Age of Trump: Resistance as a Spiritual Practice

Copyright: thawornnurak / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: thawornnurak / 123RF Stock Photo

“Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet. Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”
― Napoléon Bonaparte

“Religion is the opiate of the people.”
― Karl Marx

Trump, at some point in his bid for Presidency, recognized the reality of those two statements. Then seemingly out of nowhere, never having been a particularly religious person himself, he “found God.”

Don’t get me wrong, I think Christianity is very important to Trump. Just read what he had to say at the Republican National Convention:

At this moment, I would like to thank the evangelical and religious community because I’ll tell you what. Because the support they’ve given me, and I’m not sure I totally deserve it, has been so amazing. And has had such a big reason for me being here tonight. True. So true.
― Donald Trump

Yes, Christianity is very important to Trump. Being Christian, however? Well, that’s a different story.

Christianity is important to him for the very reasons Napoléon and Karl Marx named it as a helpful tool. Like Trump said, the support of the evangelical religious community was a “big reason” that he eventually became the Republican candidate for President. You better believe Christianity is important to him.

But how do I justify saying that being a Christian is not that important to him?

I could give you example after example, but let’s just look at “the Wall.”

Ok, there’s not actually a wall – yet, but as campaign promises go, “the Wall” was one of Trump’s biggest – both figuratively and possibly literally. Ask yourself, is that a Christian thing to do? Do we have biblical examples of Jesus demanding that people stay in unhealthy situations? Examples of Jesus denying people a better future? Does actively working to keep people in a oppressive situation seem like something the God of Exodus would prefer?

Obviously, not.

I say obviously not, but unfortunately, for some people it is not so obvious. Which makes it all the more important that those who see that most of Trumps actions thus far are clearly un-Christian not only be willing, but actively resilient in confronting Trump and his administration every time they make morally repugnant moves. Honestly, it’s the only Christian thing to do.

Yes, you read that right, confronting Trump when he makes moral repugnant moves is the Christian thing to do. You see, when Jesus was confronting the Sadducee and Pharisees, he wasn’t just confronting religious leaders; they were also representatives of the government. Jesus wasn’t crucified because he was a super awesome guy that quietly went around asking people to please be nice to each other. Jesus was crucified because the Roman authorities of the day saw him as a real threat to the state, a threat to political order, and most importantly, a threat to those in power. He was a threat because he directly and, at times, aggressively confronted the powers that be when they took advantage of their power at the expense of “the least of these.” As the “Cleansing of the Temple” story shows us, this was particularly true when they used religion to do it.

There are those who will try to argue that Jesus wasn’t political. Frequently, they will be the very same people who want a Christian nation (their personal brand of Christianity, of course). The biblical reality is that it is laughable to say that Jesus wasn’t political. If you call yourself a Christian and you value the teachings of Jesus you have no other option but to confront a morally corrupt government.

After only a few days in office, Trump has placed gag orders on the EPA, CDC and USDA to withhold data from the public – data that is funded by the tax dollars of the very people the information is being withheld from. A very troubling move considering that each department’s work and the information they produce are essential in maintaining and improving the health of the nation.

He has signed executive orders to push through the Dakota Access pipeline and Keystone XL pipeline in spite of recent public outrage and resistance to the projects which will create massive environmental risk the could ultimately and severely impact the access to clean water. On top of that, Trump owns stocks that will benefit from the orders, bringing further into question his already questionable morals as well as questioning how much the public can trust that his choices are in the nation’s best interest when he has a personal conflict of interest.

He’s signed an order that will begin destabilizing the funding of ACA/Obamacare and still has not offered a viable replacement. His administration has presented lies as truths to the press, as they did with the attendance size of his inauguration, and then said their “intention is to never lie” to the press. Trump himself has repeated the blatant lie that there was massive voter fraud in the Presidential election to the tune of 3 million people or more.

The list of morally reprehensible actions is certainly longer than this and it is undoubtedly going to grow longer and longer.

The actions that this new administration have already taken should be a call to arms for Christians who wish to truly follow the life and teachings of Jesus. For that matter, some of the actions of the Obama administration should have been as well.

Given what we know of Trump and his administration, I believe that we must start seeing resistance as a spiritual practice. It must be a daily practice. It is our spiritual responsibility to stay informed. It is our faithful duty to stay vigilant. It is our moral obligation to make our voices heard and to share with those most in need the access that our places of privilege offers. We must stand up not only for our own rights and interest but for the rights and interests of others. We must promote equality, justice, and love in our every action, but not fall victim to the false perspective that to do so means we do so timidly and with trepidation.

Resistance must become our spiritual practice.

  • Contact your representatives on a daily basis. Let them know your position on current issues and encourage them to support their constituents rather than Big Business and Big Oil.
  • Speak out public on issues on injustice. Blog, write lop-eds for local papers, or make social media posts promoting better ways forward and encouraging others to join in making resistance a daily practice.
  • Volunteer locally and particularly at agencies that may have their funding cut under the new administration.
  • Do not become complacent in the face of “alternative facts.” Confront them actively.
  • Share resources like countable.us and indivisibleguide.com widely.
  • Be aware of where you get your news. Focus on reputable news sources.
  • As much as possible avoid the lazy approach of littering the presentation of your position with name calling. In doing so you are only appealing to to those who already agree with you and distancing those who might have been convinced otherwise.
  • Contribute to organizations and even individuals who are working to aid the resistance , as well as organizations like PBS and NPR who may be losing their funding.
  • Attend every march and demonstration you can.
  • Promote and lift up those who are putting themselves, their careers, and quite possibly their personal welfare on the line for the sake of stopping draconian legislature and executive orders.
  • Share articles (like this one), meme’s, relevant quotes, and other social media content that moves the conversation forward as widely and as frequently as you can.

Feel free to use the comment section of this article to add to this list your own suggestion for how to resist. Do be warned however, those trolling the comment section will have your comments deleted in order to help keep it a usable list.

Resistance must become our spiritual practice. Repeat that to yourself. On a daily basis.

Resistance must become our spiritual practice.

Resistance must become our spiritual practice.

Now go and do likewise.

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