Would You Worship Next to a Trump Supporter? Things Pondered from a Construction Site Jesus

Would You Worship Next to a Trump Supporter? Things Pondered from a Construction Site Jesus May 21, 2018
Jonathan Frank

by Jonathan Frank 

Recently I was walking through my Washington, D.C. neighborhood when I spotted a construction site where a local church was building a new home.

Colorful banners affixed to a chain link fence partitioned off the construction zone, heralding the congregation as “A progressive church for a progressive city” and featuring a depiction of Jesus with his face in his hands alongside several blocks of large “quotes” saying things like:

“The President said what?”
Yes, science is real.”
“What is it with America and guns?”

I didn’t wholly disagree with the sentiment.

After all, a person who degrades women on Twitter, mocks the disabled, and says he’s never needed to ask for forgiveness has surely broken the heart of God, but my Bible reminds me that I have too.

I believe in science, as does every conservative I know – despite this banner’s not-so-subtle insinuation otherwise – and many of us hope to see it equally applied when defending the care of God’s good Earth and acknowledging the humanity of the unborn children in it.

And, while I support your right to the 2nd Amendment, I don’t particularly wish to exercise it myself.

Still, this construction site Jesus’ message gave me pause.

My thoughts flashed to an old colleague now working in President Trump’s administration. After years away from church, would the partisan undertones of the message outside these doors add to his trepidation about a possible return?

I remembered a gun toting loved one. Would this message cause him to think that his faith and the way he chooses to protect his family were somehow mutually exclusive?

Evidence of congregations ratcheting up the political rhetoric is not just anecdotal. Polling shows that 14% of church attendees report being encouraged to vote for or against a specific candidate during the 2016 election, while a Wall Street Journal headline earlier this month declared that “Anti-Trump activism is reviving protestant churches.”

I don’t know about you, but that’s not the kind of revival my wandering heart needs most.

Of course, this trend isn’t unique to progressive congregations. For every church using their platform to declare that President Trump and his Republican supporters can do nothing right, there’s a Robert Jeffress and Franklin Graham ready to tell you they can do no wrong.

Pastor and author Tim Keller spoke about this climate recently, lamenting that “there is now a red and blue evangelicalism.”

Moderate, mainline, and justice-seeking churches should be especially wary of such partisan and divisive messages because we remember what it was like when the shoe was on the other foot.

We balked at evangelist John Piper’s condemnation of women in Christian leadership.

We winced at the unfeeling tenor of the “Nashville Statement.”

And we swiftly rebuked a denominational leader’s dangerous legalism over divorce.

Over the years, many of our churches stood athwart this trend with expressions of goodwill and statements of inclusion to proclaim that the gospel is good news for all people.

“All are welcome,” reads our signs.

“A diverse community of faith,” promises our bulletins.

Still, however, we are human, and every now and then we see a message like that construction site interpretation of a modern-day Jesus’ thoughts which seems to hit a different note.

So maybe we are right to ask: does diversity in our church include diversity of political thought?

If we will welcome the refugee, disabled, poor, LGBT, or unbelieving neighbor to our table – and heavens knows we should with gladness – will we also extend our arms to the card-carrying NRA member from the Southern Baptist church who wears his MAGA hat with pride?

Can we admonish our siblings in the faith to fulfill our Matthew 25:35 responsibility to the hungry, the poor, the sick, and the stranger – recognizing this will often require wading into matters of public policy – without wrapping our exhortation in needlessly hyper-partisan packaging?

And can we do it all without putting our words in Jesus’ mouth?

If I pose these questions to myself and answer honestly, I haven’t always said “yes,” but then I stop to remember some of the believers who have guided me in my messy, meandering faith journey.

They did not try to enlist me in the Moral Majority or recruit me to #resist, they simply pointed me to Jesus.

They did not seek to change my politics, but instead sought to allow God to change my heart.

And they recognized that while Christians may never feel fully at home with the Democrats or Republicans, the party faithful in both camps should always be able to find a home among our pews.

I have got a long way to go – I’ve conflated spiritual formation and political affiliation more times than I can count – but I sure hope to follow their example.

Now, when I think of those looking to unearth the good news of the gospel beneath the noise of these politically polarizing times, I am learning to ask, “Make it so, Lord, and let it begin with me.”

Jonathan Frank is a communications professional and former Congressional aide residing in Washington, D.C. He attends First Baptist Church of the City of Washington D.C. 

Note: The views expressed here in columns and commentaries are solely those of the authors.

Interested in writing for CBF at Patheos? Submit your column idea to CBF Communications Director Aaron Weaver at aweaver@cbf.net.

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  • Robert Eckert

    If we will welcome the refugee, disabled, poor, LGBT, or unbelieving neighbor to our table, will we also extend our arms to those who want to kill them, or at least throw them out?

    • patriot1776deplorable

      What is wrong with you Robert? Trump does not want to throwout or kill , the refugee, disabled, poor, LGBT, or non Christian neighbor. He just like most of us want people to enter this country legally. The rest or your comment is so ridiculous that I am not going to waste my time adresssing it.

      • Anonymous soi disant “Patriot,”

        One cannot argue with you because nobody knows what Trump “wants.” He clearly does not know himself from moment to moment.

        Robert Eckert’s note is, however, an accurate summary of some of his policies and statements. We are blessed, though, by the man’s incompetence and by the shackles his followers put on themselves by serving both their gods and Mammon. Effective, sustained, governance is not one of their strong points.

        A famous old Steven Leacock line summarizes the Trump Administration well: “He leapt on his horse and rode off in all directions.”

        As for the article’s question about praying along side his followers, it would be difficult. I do my praying of their sort on weekdays.

        • patriot1776deplorable

          So you make it a habit if speaking for Robert?

        • patriot1776deplorable

          Worry about your own country & your own leaders. Your in my back yard now & your opinion has no place here.

          • EVERYONE’s opinion has a place here, that’s the whole point of democracy and freedom!

          • patriot1776deplorable

            Yet the USA is a Democratic Republic which has a man as PRESIDENT who’s trying to keep the USA free from people like you so as we said to the British in 1776 PISS OFF!

          • Aww, now…stop your bellyaching and behave yourself ya hear…

          • patriot1776deplorable

            To you & Robert and the rest of the deep state… this is what your all about so excuse me if I don’t waste anymore of my time on you.

            Never Forget This Tweet:

            We live in a country where the democrats question President Trump’s stability, while THEY defend MS-13, cheer giving Billions to “Death to America” Iran, & refuse to honor Americans murdered by illegals at SOTU.

            The DNC is the definition of instability.

          • Kind words there, 1776 deplorable…

          • patriot1776deplorable

            Honest words which is more than I can say for you & the deep state.

          • I got a hunch ya don’t even know what that flip-coin phrase of ‘deep state’ even means or how it dastardly originated without first looking it up…

          • patriot1776deplorable

            I know all about it. I am well versed on that subject.

      • What truly is your definition of “patriot”, there, patriot1776deplorable? I just s’pose that ya feel as a right-winger, ya have the right to wear that moniker. But let me tell ya something…most liberals are the true American patriots and they don’t have to be advertising by wearing it on their lapels or labeling it as their handle. Simply because, to be a true patriot you fight for all Americans and those that wish to be one. You don’t follow divisiveness. Even Melania Trump came here as an immigrant and worked in the U.S. illegally. I just suppose you would say you’re a Christian as well…then stand up for the poor and quit attacking them; instead attack poverty. Unite with the nation’s LGBT community and quit making them feel unaccepted. Don’t follow someone who mocks the disabled or criticizes American war prisoners then lies about it, even though it was seen over and over by millions of folks. Face the fact that there are more than just one religion and respect those who worship a different faith’s path. As for refugees, they already go through 24 months of vetting…what more do ya want, cowpunch?

        I apologize that your time isn’t “worth addressing it;” I wish the readers here could’ve been more worthy of your attention. Or is it, that ya are blind to the substantive facts and don’t fully realize that Trump and Republicans constantly use fear mongering in attacking these groups.

        So if ya are a true Christian that means ya follow in Jesus’ footsteps and abide by his teachings and I can guarantee ya that your Savior had no use for borders whether they are physical geopolitical borders or ethnic ones…

        • patriot1776deplorable

          And who in the hell are you to be lecturing me on anything?

          • I’m a Mr. Nobody, who doesn’t lecture, but state substantive issues as best I can. I am also a liberal West Texan and one redneck one at that, so if ya can only reply back with spout, why don’t ya attempt again and come back with something more resourceful where we can see your viewpoint instead of your gruff…

          • patriot1776deplorable

            Excuse me who in the hell do you think you are. Just because you think you know who I am you spout off with your BS & then think that I owe you an intelligent response? Think again.. you’re not worth my time.. have a good day.

          • No problem, there cowpunch…

        • patriot1776deplorable

          Why don’t you ask Alex Jones since his ad is in your site.

          • I’m not addressing Jones, I’m directed at you…

          • patriot1776deplorable

            Well it seems as though you support Alex Jones & his views because he is advertising on your web page but yet you find it necessary to lecture me on what you think my views are? HMM seems to be a problem with that.

          • First off, this isn’t my website, I have another ya wouldn’t be too much interested in for it deals in science…

          • patriot1776deplorable

            The site is linked to your account & has your last name on it. Care to explain?

        • Everett Kier Jr

          this is the kind of vitriol I have gotten use to seeing on these blog cites. The primary argument I hear is “We love everyone EXCEPT those that disagree with our enlightened views” Even if the views disregard completely the “democracy of the dead”!

          • Everett…that’s the very same concept in a nimble way I was trying to get across to ‘patriot1776’ and let him explain himself. Unfortunately that’s not happening, so I get down more to his level in delivering in offering the other side’s viewpoint; maybe then in his own terminology he can express, instead of spewing…

      • Everett Kier Jr

        this is the kind of mean spirited arrogance I have gotten use to seeing on these blog cites [Progressive Christian] where the primary claim is made to be superior to all others–especially one that is deemed to be an evangelical and God (god) forbid a fundamentalist!!. My primary take-away is that many, perhaps most, of the opinions given follow a line of logic that says, “We love everyone EXCEPT those that disagree with our enlightened views” Even if the views we espouse disregard completely the ‘democracy of the dead’–because after all NO ONE is as wise and enlightened as ME!”
        To which I sarcastically reply “What a grand vision for life and the world. That must be a beautiful place–NOT”

    • patriot1776deplorable

      Can we talk about the real news of the day? Three FBI Agents agreed to
      Testify: Including Lead Investigator in Clinton Email Probe Who Quit in Protest Over Sham Investigation

    • patriot1776deplorable

      Oklahoma City, OK – A man opened fire in a crowded restaurant Thursday night, shooting two people before an armed citizen took him out.

    • patriot1776deplorable

      According to sources within the bureau, FBI agents are desperate to tell Congress about how heavily politicized the FBI has become and how senior personnel at the agency attempted to prevent Trump from becoming President.

  • Don’t be confused my friend, whatever is truly in your heart and whether you feel the message was from a god or your own conscious…listen to it, be brave and stand firmly behind it…

  • jeffnkr

    So, you’ll worship God, but attach conditions? “God, I’ll worship You, as long as I don’t have breathe air next to someone who disagrees with me!” Take it from someone with experience: Whatever you tell God you’re not going to do, is exactly what He’ll require you to do. No one can come to God, except through Jesus Christ, and then only if the Holy Spirit draws him or her (John 6:44), and no one can come with a list of demands and expect to be heard or received. We either come as we are, laying down everything (the early church recognized this, by requiring new converts to be baptized nude) and receiving only what God wants to give us. We come on HIS terms, or we don’t come.

    We all have sinned in many different ways. Therefore, what is or is not a sin is not as important as some people make it out to be. We cannot be accepted by God because of what we do or what we don’t do. Even if something that society says is a sin, turns out not to be, we are still sinners. We are still in need of God’s love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness, because we have sinned in other ways. Let God judge the person who appears to not show love, grace, mercy, and, if applicable, forgiveness. If that person says he/she is a true son/daughter of God, then judgment will come, and it will be appropriate. The One Who CAN control the thoughts, goals, desires, and actions of every person, does not do so, and has given sufficient warning that we will have to stand before Him, and give account of every single thought and action of which we are responsible.

    Call me a conservative if it helps you, but I call myself a sinner saved by the exceedingly abundant love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness of God, the Blood of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit, and nothing else.

  • Brandon Roberts


  • Everett Kier Jr

    What a refreshing opinion on a blog site (Patheos Progressive) that I find quite disturbing and more judgmental than most Fundamentalists I know–and I know PLENTY of them! Thank-you Jonathan.

    • Nimblewill

      Evidently the hatred of Evangelical Christians is progressive!

  • Wow. How Fascist this is. We Anglicans leave the thoughts of the People out of our discussions. We have Free Minds, to think at Will. Only by the Fruits of the Spirit–behavior–are we known to each other.

  • deb

    Of course I would sit next to a Trump supporter! I AM one, and so is my husband.

  • cindyb

    I will not even dignify my answer by reading the article. Yes I would and yes I voted for Trump.

  • Nimblewill

    What are we worshiping? Jesus brought Matthew, a tax collector and Simon the Zealot into His inner circle. One had vowed to kill the other and yet he never did because it had nothing to do with Matthew and everything to do with Jesus. It sounds like those congregations on both sides, have their eyes on Trump, guns and science. Mine are on Jesus.