By Charles Turner
Most Muslims have engaged with the idea of America being a Christian nation. That idea is often heard from the nativist camp that attempts to claim that Muslims, and Muslim immigrants in particular, are not truly part of the fabric of this nation. It’s also heard from the more conservative elements within the Muslim community that argue for a degree of separation from American culture in order to preserve their identity and (perceived) sense of moral purity.
Regardless of how the notion of a Christian America has been used in the past as a tool of division, never has there been a time in which a more Christianly America was needed than right now.
With Trump’s recent victories in bastion states of Christianity, I suspect that Muslims are starting to wonder if Evangelicals are even aware of the ethical principles Jesus espoused. While the Republican Party has always had a questionable relationship with Christianity, the current swell of support behind Donald Trump is even more confusing.
Trump seems to embody literally no inkling of Christian values. He blatantly disavowed the practice of seeking forgiveness, seems to hold no regard for the institution of marriage, and appears completely oblivious of the virtues of humility and modesty. In speaking at Liberty University, one of the largest Christian institutions in the United States, Trump was even incapable of properly reciting a verse from the Bible without giving away the fact he has never truly engaged with the faith on his own.
The reality is that Trump is closer to the living embodiment of Pharaoh than of Jesus Christ.
What’s more shocking than his explicit ignorance of Jesus is the manner in which Christians have taken to his campaign. Trump won by huge margins in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. According to the Pew Research Center, Evangelicals in these states constitute 49, 38 and 52 percent of the population respectively. Trump has also received support from prominent Evangelical leaders such as Jerry Farwell Jr., Franklin Graham, and Robert Jeffress.
What could possibly explain this overwhelming Evangelical support for Trump? It seems the verdict is that greatest of American sins: The blending church and state. When Evangelicals speak of their support for Donald Trump, they do so in explicitly nationalistic and ultimately amoral language. In defending Trump’s proposal to build a wall spanning the US-Mexico border (and to the Pope, nonetheless), Rev. Franklin Graham argued that “we should not compromise our national security,” even in the process of the Christian practice of building bridges.
So as the ‘Trump train’ continues to plow across primary states and through our great American values, I find myself offering a prayer for our country. Whereas the idea of a Christian America was used to intimidate Muslims before, let it now be a rallying cry for those who still seek a nation built upon moral foundations. Let us pray:
I pray for a nation that is welcoming and accepting of all. I pray for a nation that opens its doors to the victims of war and oppression and does not close them in the face of fear bigotry. I pray for a nation that extends hands and builds bridges, not a nation that constructs walls and turns away the needy
I pray for a nation that sees the good in all people. I pray for a nation that acknowledges the Good Samaritan where they are, be they the immigrant working long and hard to provide for their family or the Muslim confronting extremism head-on in their own houses of worship. I pray for a nation that spreads messages of peace and positivity, and not for a nation that constructs narratives of lies and slanders against others of different races, nationalities, and religions.
I pray for a nation that puts virtue and morality before national interest and economic prosperity. I pray for a nation that seeks to protect the weak for the sake of good, not a nation that invades the rich for the sake of greed. I pray for a nation that delivers food rather than arms, and promotes democracy over dictatorship.
I pray for a nation that seeks to live in the virtues of Christ. If our elected officials continue to claim that our nation was built upon Judeo-Christian foundations, then I pray for a truly Christian America.
I pray this as a Muslim. I pray this as an American.
Charles M. Turner is a graduate student of Political Science at George Mason University. A convert to Islam, Charles has served in numerous organizations including the Muslim Chaplain Services of Virginia, the Virginia Muslim Coalition for Public Affairs, and the Islamic Center of Virginia. He currently works as a teacher at the Tawheed Prep School, the only Muslim middle and high school in the Richmond area. Charles plans to continue his education in political science with a focus on Islam and Politics and one day teach at a university.