Trump’s Nationalism is Incompatible with Christianity

Trump’s Nationalism is Incompatible with Christianity October 25, 2018

Speaking at an election rally for Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Trump admitted to being a nationalist:

You know, they have a word. It sort of became old-fashioned. It’s called a nationalist. And I say, really, we’re not supposed to use that word. You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, OK? I’m a nationalist.

This is hardly a revelation. Trump’s actions have already earned him this label. But it indicates  another milestone in Trump’s chipping away at democracy and human rights. It is one more reason why Christians must stand in opposition to this president.

Christians are called to put God and neighbor first rather America first.

Nationalism is different than patriotism. Nationalists see their country is innately superior and support their own interests to the exclusion or expense of others. White Christian nationalists form the core of Trump’s base supporters. His actions have already laid groundwork for his outward embrace of nationalism. We saw it when he called Mexicans rapists and African and Caribbean countries s-hole countries; when he refused to condemn Neo Nazi and KKK violence in Charlottesville; when he imposed a Muslim Ban and when he adopted policies that separated nursing babies and toddlers from their moms and dads.

Trump in this speech also alleged that “globalists” do not love their country. First of all, the assertion that people who value international alliances and human rights treaties are unpatriotic is patently false. One can love their country, as I do, while caring about how our nation’s policies and actions affect God’s children in other countries and caring about human rights and peacemaking. Second, this term globalist, a favorite of Steve Bannon and other white supremacists, has a long history of being an anti-semitic dog whistle.

RT.com

Here are two fundamental reasons nationalism doesn’t work for Christians: First, we believe in human dignity as described in Genesis and the creation story. Human beings are created in God’s image and to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of nationality, race or religion. Second, love of God is inextricably intertwined with love of neighbor. Jesus told us the Greatest Commandment was to love God, and the second was tied to it: love your neighbor as yourself. When asked to define neighbor Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, a foreigner of a different faith who showed hospitality. The neighbor is one who refuses to pass a foreigner by on the other side even when his own life is endangered by helping.

This ethic must be reflected not just in our personal actions but in the laws we support. We can’t feel good about giving food to starving people when we vote for policies that cause them to starve. We cannot help build schools in Latin America and pat ourselves on the back while we vote for policies that kill Latin American children.

Judaism and Christianity advanced a powerful ethic: the conviction that laws should honor human dignity and fairness. “Remember, you were once slaves in Egypt,” God told the Israelites repeatedly. Therefore take care of the widow, the orphan, the refugee, the poor.

America has been at her best when we drew from Judeo-Christian ethics, reflecting them in a constitution, legal system and a foreign policy that defended human rights. To be sure we have more often than not failed to actually live out this ethic despite our lofty rhetoric. This nation was built on slavery, the genocide of Native Americans and theft (violating over 500 treaties with First Nations). After the brief period of Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation laws for nearly 100 years implemented slavery by another name. America returned boatloads of Jews fleeing Hitler to their deaths in Europe and delayed support to allies until it was nearly too late. Each of these catastrophes illustrate what happens when a people fails to follow God, embracing instead an ultranationalist, xenophobic and greed driven politics.

The alt right or white supremacists that Trump has all but endorsed view Christianity as a plague. The alt right teaches that Christianity has inserted a “pathological altruism” into American culture. They believe that “Like Acid, Christianity burns through the ties of kinship and blood” so critical to ethno-nationalist projects.

Today Christians must see Trump’s brand of nationalism as an attack on our faith and on our country. Let us instead strive for a nation that honors human dignity rather than embracing a racist nationalism based on hatred and fear of neighbor. Our core identity can either be lodged firmly in Christ or our nation. We must choose.

 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I will also note that in some countries “nationalist” means “racist”.

  • Joseph Quesnel

    hahahahaha… Right. Does Patheos do anything but endlessly pontificate about Pres. Trump? Aren’t there other issues in the world that interest you? Now, we know you don’t take the Bible or the Gospel seriously, so you’ve replaced that with a dogmatic religion of Trump hatred?

  • Xavier de la Torre

    The issue at hand is an urgent one. Troll.

  • Xavier de la Torre

    wait – I forgot: hahahahaha

  • And look where that got European Western democracies. They’re burning now and will be gone in another generation.

  • Joseph Quesnel

    Is “troll” how you deal with arguments? Name call. Does Patheos ever engage in self-criticism over its obsession with Pres. Trump?

  • Robert Conner

    Don the Con’s incompatible with Christianity? Not what I’ve heard.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dd32e6788c3ca2124f9c58dd74d69032a9c62d947d6555661451ee42c3cfeec0.jpg

  • Well we live in this country and nationalist does not mean racist.

  • Very cogent snapshot of Patheos. The Left is mentally deranged. Example: Kill children in the womb and sell their body parts while lecturing the Right on civility, decorum and Christian principles.

  • Childish comment showing no debating skill.

  • No it does not. Patheos has equated Trump with Satan and tries to destroy him at all costs. When in fact the Left is like a self indulgent child throwing a tantrum.

  • Janice Holladay

    Thank you for attempting to lay this out. This is a crisis of faith to be sure. I cannot back what is happening in this country, and my faith compels me to fight against the demise of my country and the bastardization of my country.

  • Janice Holladay

    I started voting D more often when I realized the R approach to abortion didn’t work and was more about gaining funding and power.

    I never knew that abortion rates dropped since Roe. When I dug into information and data, I fear R policies will increase abortion rates. The R platform in Texas is elimination of sex education in our schools. Solid sex ed has been shown to reduce unwanted pregnancies, thus reducing abortions. Access to birth control and healthcare impact abortion rates. Look at maternal death rates, and look at infant mortality rates. We need to do better. This will reduce the actual medical needs for abortion. And, if parents know adequate healthcare will be available for their kids, that will likely reduce abortions. We need to look at daycare, at education, at women’s rights, at social safety networks.

    Roe V Wade did not increase the rate of abortions as expected. Instead, abortion rates have steadily dropped.

    I abhor abortion, but we need to look at what works and doesn’t end up with lots of dead women.

    Sadly, the majority of women I know who had abortions, both as teens and into their adult years, did so because they didn’t want their church or their parents’ church to know they were pregnant. They had abortions out of fear of being shamed by their church.

    Roe v Wade will be challenged. Over the top conservative policies will be pushed. If that succeeds, I anticipate an increase in the rate of abortions.

  • Brandon Roberts

    reasonable patriotism is good nationalism is not.

  • Marion Wiley

    Yes, it’s a mess, and I don’t care which side of the aisle you’re talking about. As Christians, as you say, we put the Kingdom of God first, not politics. Government is so incredibly corrupt, the political process is corrupt, everything is driven by money and power, period. Just check out Koch Bros agenda. I was Republican but the hate I’ve seen in Christians has pushed me out of any political allegiance at all. I pledge allegiance to the Lamb. I highly recommend The Myth of a Christian Nation by Gregory Boyd.

  • “There have been roughly 60 million abortions since the case was decided in 1973.” That is 60,000,000 in the USA; that is a huge number of unborn children.

    You said, “Roe V Wade did not increase the rate of abortions as expected. Instead, abortion rates have steadily dropped.” That is not true.

    Abortions doubled after Roe for 20 years and then dropped back for the next 20 years to 1973 levels.

  • Xavier de la Torre

    There is absolutely no need on God’s green earth to debate a troll. None.

  • William Turner

    Spare me. This nation only exists because of Christian violence and oppression against Natives and Africans. Give it up. Bad joke.

  • MurphsLaw

    What about that church and state separation thingy?
    Rendér unto Caesar as well on the other side of that equation.
    If there is anything to choose- choose truth and honesty. Not narratives.

  • Widuran

    Spot on

  • Widuran

    Yes indeed

  • Widuran

    Trump is OK. He is not the bogey man coming to get you!

  • Brianna LaPoint

    Everyone is an induvidual. some christians would say youre wrong, and some would agree. Me? This is a part of why im NOT christian! because not only do christians not get along with other christians, they have the audacity to use the old, no true christian. To them you are wrong. its all a matter of perspective. Me? I use christians slamming other christians as a testament to why i left christianity, jesus and the bible.

  • Brianna LaPoint

    America has been at her best when we drew from Judeo-Christian ethics, reflecting them in a constitution, legal system and a foreign policy that defended human rights. Oh no you did not. the founding fathers were Diests. Let me say it in laymen’s, Agnostics with window dressing. Another reason i dont sing to the christian tune, because most dont know history.

  • Brianna LaPoint

    a fetus isnt a baby. A baby is a baby and a miscarriage is God giving people abortions. Also if you have a wang in between your legs, you shouldnt have an opinion/.

  • Kerry Wells

    I interacted with Jesus as the consciousness of the Sun, our star.

    I wrote an ebook about my experiences that is free to download, and I the ebook is also available on blogger, links are below
    link to my free ebook, “Messages from the Sun God, Jesus Christ” http://www.mediafire.com/file/riox16d87g86626/Messages_10.pdf/file

    link to the ebook on blogger: https://messagesftsg.blogspot.com

    blog: http://www.jesuschristsungod.com

  • Kerry Wells

    I interacted with Jesus Christ as the consciousness of the Sun, our star.

    I wrote an ebook about my experiences that is free to download, and I the ebook is also available on blogger, links are below
    link to my free ebook, “Messages from the Sun God, Jesus Christ” http://www.mediafire.com/file/riox16d87g86626/Messages_10.pdf/file

    link to the ebook on blogger: https://messagesftsg.blogspot.com

    blog: http://www.jesuschristsungod.com

  • Hating Christians and Christianity does not make a fetus any less a baby. Only the most self centered person could say that. A baby is a gift from God and taking its life is killing another human being. Would you take the baby from the womb and smash its head on the table? At what point does a fetus become a baby?

    God says differently. Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Wait until you have to justify your disgusting position to God after the resurrection,

    As to your wang comment, that is anti-LGTB and you should lose your Liberal card for that Liberal heresy.

  • HematitePersuasion

    Trump’s Nationalism is Incompatible With Christianity As Interpreted By Columnist

    And yet.

  • newenglandsun

    In Poland it does not.

  • Joshua Sonofnone

    Fifty-three of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were active members of their churches, while three of them truly were Deists. – I have a degree in history and I have researched this.

  • Dennis

    Rev. Jen Butler: You are creating a false dichotomy. You state “Nationalism is different than patriotism. Nationalists see their country is innately superior and support their own interests to the exclusion or expense of others.” That is your nuance of the difference. Trump realizes that the U.S. needs to trade with other nations and have relationships with them to reduce the threat of global war. So he does not want to isolate America to the “exclusion” or “expense” of other nations. He just wants to put America first in getting good trade deals and in security. Does that make him a nationalist or a patriot? It doesn’t matter to me what you call it. I just look at the results. I am a Christian and don’t see how Trump’s policies mean that I have to decide to follow Christ or follow Trump. I want to live in a country that is prosperous (by putting America first in trade) and that is secure (by strong immigration policies) so that I can worship as I please. You cite two reasons why you think nationalism doesn’t work for Christians: human dignity and love of God/neighbor. You have not proven your point of how Trump’s implemented policies work against these two points. The U.S. is not a theocracy to support your interpretation of how Christianity should be applied.

  • angeleyes333

    “The U.S. is not a theocracy to support your interpretation of how Christianity should be applied.” I think many Right to Life folks think differently. “You cite two reasons why you think nationalism doesn’t work for Christians: human dignity and love of God/neighbor.” As Jesus said with His OWN mouth, these are of the highest priority. When what YOU want is contrary to what HE wants, there’s a problem. It’s rank arrogance. Luke 11:42 is instructive: “Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and rue and every herb, but you disregard justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former.”

  • Dennis

    You say “When what YOU want is contrary to what HE wants, there’s a problem.” You have not proven to me how supporting Trump’s policies is mutually exclusive with following Christ.

  • bill wald

    My neighbors are the people who live in West Seattle, not the people who live in West Africa. Not even if they come here on a tourist visa. They are tourists.

  • bill wald

    Depends upon how one defines “work.” For example, hanging convicted murderers “works” one convicted murderer at a time.

  • bill wald

    Well, when considers that more than half of all fetuses are spontaneously aborted . . . what does God do regarding the fetuses He aborts?

  • bill wald

    I see the USA as innately superior from its conception, all things considered. What nations are on your list of innately superior nations?

  • bill wald

    OK, there are no Christian nations . . . agreed. The USA is the best of the unchristian nations.OK?

  • bill wald

    http://www.differencebetween.net/language/difference-between-nationalism-and-patriotism/ Is interesting. The way I read it, a patriot “likes,” even is “proud” of his nation, but would not die for his nation . . . might side with the nation who mad the best offer.

  • Dennis

    I was quoting Jen Butler’s definition of nationalism when I used “innately superior.” I don’t know if I have a list of innately superior nations. My point to Jen was that whether you call me a patriot or a nationalist, I like America and Trump’s policies.

  • ProfessorKirke

    God destined Israel to be a nation with a mission, to be a blessing to all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:1-3). When he returns as King, Jesus will preside from David’s Throne in Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital city. So, “nationalism” may be “incompatible” with some form of Christianity that does not know, or denies, its roots… and future status… but not with a Christianity that understands “nationalism” from a biblical point of view. It is a good thing, a means of remaining strong and as long as it remains an ally of Israel, as I see it. So, if looking at it a certain way, maybe Jesus is a “nationalist,” too?

  • From what I see miscarriages run 20-25%; a lot higher than I what I would have guessed. As to God, He does have a plan for them. They will be part of the great white throne resurrection.

  • Tom Borromeo

    I plead, 50+ MILLION aborted babies since Roe vs Wade.
    Not a good metric.
    If that is the way Planned Parenthood & the DEM’d sway you, do be careful not to be a “useful IDIOT” to those who use “Freedom of choice” etc. to continue to kill babies.
    It is as simple as that.

  • Tom Borromeo

    God does not abort, weak humans do.
    Losing one’s child through no fault if their own absolves one of any guilt.
    Where do these ‘little ones’ go ?
    “Limbo,” Catholicism might say, but one can be assured that such innocent souls will go back to it’s Creator and He wills.
    AMEEN

  • Tom Borromeo

    Indeed, a difficult, confusing mess
    So then, STOP the confusion, … simplify, …
    bring it down to it’s basic issues.
    Pro -America,
    Be pro-Life
    BOTH, patently GoOD.

  • Tom Borromeo

    You wrong yourself at the very outset.
    First you posit Judaeo-Christian and then end up with “Another reason I don’t sing to the christian tune, …”
    Which is it?

  • Tom Borromeo

    Q.E.D. Indeed !
    And you spell “Deist” correctly !

  • Tom Borromeo

    The Truth shall make you free.
    FACT:
    Western Civilisation was built on the Judaeo-Christian ethic, specifically the Catholic Church.
    Why let bad Christians dictate your ethic?

  • Tom Borromeo

    Heeheehee,
    as simple as that Sir.
    I totally agree.
    M. A. G. A.
    that always has legs !

  • Widuran

    Yes indeed the media are parasites

  • Freespirit

    Great article BUT one does not have to be of ANY religion,to agree with the MORAL tenets expressed

    One simply must recognize Natural Law – that ALL Humans have the SAME RIGHTS to Life, Liberty and Property

  • Credy Stevens

    I experienced Jesus Christ as the consciousness of the Sun. I wrote an ebook
    about my experiences that is free to download in pdf form, and the ebook
    is also available on blogger. Links are below,

    link to my free ebook, “Messages from the Sun God, Jesus Christ”
    http://www.mediafire.com/file/riox16d87g86626/Messages_10.pdf/file

    link to the ebook on blogger: https://messagesftsg.blogspot.com/

    blog http://www.jesuschristsungod.com

  • ounbbl

    God? What God? Which God? Whose God? Your God?

  • james warren

    There are various forms of “Nationalism”but one common belief is that “My Nation is better than others.”

    Racism can be broadly understood to be the belief that “My race is better than others.”
    Given how close these ideas are, it isn’t surprising that there are many nationalists who are also racist.

  • Faulty illogical reasoning. Trying to draw a connection where none exists. Racism today is just another example of Liberalism perpetuating a large class of victims whose only hope is a big Democrat government. Nothing more nothing less.

  • jekylldoc

    In general I agree with you that Rev. Butler has tried to impose a false dichotomy. However, much of the rest of your commentary falls into a false dichotomy itself. For example, you suggest that Trump wants to put America first in getting good trade deals and in security. This assumes that the trade deals we have had were not good for America. Although certain particular slices of America have suffered from some trade deals (as always happens with any lowering of trade barriers) the gains to others, for example farmers and airplane assemblers, have been much larger (as always happens with any lowering of trade barriers). So far Trump has not done much damage with his “bully first, then negotiate” strategy, but neither has he brought net benefits to American workers and producers. It’s unlikely that he ever could – the realities of economics are against “nationalism” of that type.

    In general, Trump’s rhetoric has worked from a mindset that says anyone else’s gain is our loss. This flies in the face of everything we know about economic forces. He completely misunderstands the trade deficit, for example, even though I am sure that Mnuchin and others have tried to explain what is going on. Even immigration, which you somehow equate with insecurity as if we were scattered bands of hunter-gatherers whose land is being invaded by a horde of farmers, turns out to be at least as likely to benefit us as to harm us at the levels that have prevailed for the last 40 years. Globalism is simply a better informed and more strategic path to benefit for our citizens. You acknowledge this yourself when you say Trump realizes that the U.S. needs to trade with other nations and have relationships with them to reduce the threat of global war.

    In short, my problem with “America first” rhetoric is that it assumes a win-lose world where one does not exist, and thereby threatens the enormous benefits of the last 30 years of increased globalism.

  • jekylldoc

    As simple as that? Really? I personally don’t think an abortion in the first trimester is taking a life. And those who do, like yourself, are imposing that a woman pregnant through rape must carry the child to term. I consider that a barbaric abomination.

  • jekylldoc

    This is not helpful. Speaking as a progressive, Rev. Butler could have done a much better job of calling out antagonistic nationalism, covertly racist nationalism, and nationalism just for appearance sake, without trying to impose some definition on the word. The idea that globalism could be helpful to our nation is no more strange than the idea that a government and a set of laws could be helpful to me personally. Humans are very good at benefiting through cooperation, while antagonism generates nothing but tragedy and more hatred.

  • Dennis

    Trump’s MAGA strategy is working and is better off than hands-off globalism. See:
    https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/cal-thomas-trump-promised-to-put-american-interests-first-he-wasnt-kidding

  • jekylldoc

    The notion of “hands-off” globalism is a fiction. You can make arguments about strategy, and it is possible that Trump’s approach is good strategy, but as an economist it looks very much like he is much more worried about appearing to be confrontational than about actually securing improvements for Americans. The steel and aluminum tariffs have been a huge disruption to international order and have hurt downstream industries such as autos more than they have helped the industries protected, as is normally the case with tariffs.

  • /it looks very much like he is much more worried about appearing to be confrontational than about actually securing improvements for Americans./ (!) Possibly this confrontationalism / smash-and-grab is equivalent to securing improvements for Americans … in his dreams and his fevered imagination. The fruit of cognitive dissonance, it so leaves a bitter after taste…

    Revelation 10:9: So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but ‘in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9f2448474165751956762e309f3f01bfee5ebcdf2c1fa774004b3450ae1976e1.jpg

  • jekylldoc

    I’m pretty sure they are equivalent to the Donald. He is a narcissist, turning everything into conflict in his mind and relentlessly seeking the “win” of claiming victory in a conflict. Since I have taught about trade every year for 30 years, I feel a certain sense of betrayal that voters accept this trashing of one of humanity’s greatest achievements. Not that it is such a surprise, really, but at this moment in our history it is more critical than ever to recognize the fruits of cooperation and resist the urge to see conflict where there is none. Canada! Our great enemy to the North! Dear Leader gets his imagination from South Park, evidently.

  • I fell on this today from TA-NEHISI COATES

    /It is often easier to choose the path of self-destruction when you don’t consider who you are taking along for the ride, to die drunk in the street if you experience the deprivation as your own, and not the deprivation of family, friends, and community./
    This personal micro/is macro level/ is MAGA, MHO… [America’s authorization of]…the racist [ misogynist, xenophobic, ableist, ageist Etc.] rhetoric of the conservative movement…/ the young people among the despised classes of America who will pay a price for this
    —the children parted from their parents at the border,
    —the women warring to control the reproductive organs of their own bodies,
    —the transgender soldier fighting for his job,
    —the students who dare not return home for fear of a “travel ban,”
    which [ Trump’s supporters are free to never experience consequences or the consequences are temporarily suspended. They,] …will likely pay also for [this] thin definition of freedom, as opposed to one that experiences history, traditions, and struggle not as a burden, but as an anchor in a chaotic world./

    https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/16771119-i-m-not-black-i-m-kanye

  • jekylldoc

    Saw that last quote set on your blog. Worth quoting.
    https://littlegreenleafinthewoods.wordpress.com/2018/05/13/ta-nehisi-coates-im-not-black-im-kanye-kanye-west-wants-freedom-white-freedom-highlights/comment-page-1/#comment-257

    Coates has accepted the reality of power in America and its abuse. By bypassing the need to reveal or confront it on every piece of writing, he ends up doing far more good by penetrating to the human heart of things.

    Fred Clark has a great one out about forgiveness. Picks up on a lot of the evangelical “faux”giveness of abusive males in power, without ever mentioning it.
    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2018/11/05/we-try-to-control-forgiveness-because-we-know-we-need-it/#comment-4181588984

  • Suraj Majumdar

    Good, then all the aborted babies have already gone to your supposed heaven. We should abort as many as possible.

  • Robert Alan Russell

    It seems to me that one important point the article fails to make is that if Christianity is functioning properly it undermines and subverts nationalism. Jesus informed Pilate that his kingdom is not of the this world, James writes to Church as 12 tribes dispersed among the nations, Peter’s readers are resident aliens whose identify transcends cultural, national and imperial boundaries, Paul writes of a gospel the breaks down walls. Among the new humanity “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.” If all followers of Jesus are part of the only family that ultimately matters then I have a closer identity with a Christian living in China, Mexico or Nigeria than any unbelieving neighbour who happens to share my culture, national identity or economic interests. In the end the only patriotism that counts is support for global kingdom of Christ.

  • Ron Swaren

    Sorry. Evangelical missions have left everyone in the dirt. They have turned so much over to what are called “the nationals” and so much of that is done via latest technology, maybe more than we do here in the states. Yes there is a ways to go, but lumping evangelicals who support Trump as backwards or racists or fascists is very ill-informed. And then you seque into a screed on “white supremacism.” Oh please. Who brought about the industrial revolution, womens rights, the information revolution? Look back at our history and you will see the system of law based in reason comes in large part from the Northmen. Jury trial came from the Danelaw and William the Norman. A lot better than trial by ordeal!

  • Giordano_Bruno

    America IS a superior nation because it CHOOSES to be a superior nation. It is founded on the notion of inalienable rights bestowed by the Creator and constitutional government. In America one can choose to be Christian with all its associated virtues, but it is not mandatory. To its own peril, America has embraced a secular welfare state to cushion the trials of less fortunate CITIZENS, while attempting to preserve its essential nature. This attention to secular virtue is not possible with globalist virtues where all have access to America’s riches, without any contribution or concern regarding either America’s nature or wealth. In short, Jen, you couldn’t be more wrong.

  • Kanawah

    Trumps nationalism is incompatible with everything except the Third Rich.