Trump has exposed a lot of things we never wanted to see, and many of us didn’t think were true.
He has shown us the sheer stupidity of a lot of people. The easy way he has duped people that we’ve known and loved all our lives into believing, supporting and echoing his blatant lies, misogyny and racism has been, to say the least, demoralizing for the rest of us.
People we love, people we’ve looked up to and trusted, have demonstrated that they are at best easily deluded fools, and at worst, hypocritical phonies. They either don’t believe a lot of the things they have said they believe, or their discernment and judgement are seriously flawed.
At the same time, our religious leaders, whose discernment and judgement we have been taught to trust without questioning, have demonstrated a callous disregard for the plain teachings of the Scriptures that they claim they represent. This disregard of the Gospels is such an absolute display of faithlessness that it is both breathtaking in its arrogance and faith-challenging for those of us who trusted these men and their leadership.
This deliberate and uncaring abnegation of the teaching authority of the Gospels and, indeed, of the teaching authority of Christ Himself, coming as it does from bishops, high-profile priests, and “star” preachers, gnaws through the ecclesiastical underpinnings of our faith. It destroys the beliefs we had that our religious leaders were trustworthy interpreters of the Gospels who could, due to the authenticity of their personal commitment to Christ and the holiness of their calling, show us the way to the Way.
When they abandon the Way of the Cross for cheap demagoguery and a place on the dais with men of power, when they kiss Caesar’s ring and take Caesar’s money in exchange for crude political selling out, we are left bereft. We become sheep without shepherds in a real and present way in this time of pandemic, culture implosion and mass self-destructiveness.
Our friends who we saw as examples of Christian fidelity; people we looked up to and wanted to emulate, have become fools and liars for Trump. They placidly claim they “don’t believe” that he does and says things that he does and says right out in public. They deny and pretend and lie and lie and lie in their self-protective covering up of what they have to be themselves in order to support such a man.
I never knew before how the German people could claim that they “didn’t know” what Hitler was doing. How did they overlook what he wrote in his books, said in his speeches, testified to in his 1924 trial? How could they pretend that Kristallnacht didn’t happen, that their friends and neighbors weren’t disappearing, that large numbers of people weren’t being rounded up and loaded into box cars, never to return?
Didn’t the German people notice that everyone who supported democracy just … vanished? What did they think when they read the pamphlets about “worthless eaters?” How did they square the circle of the fact that all the people in institutions for mental challenges suddenly died off en masse?
Didn’t they notice when they moved into their friends’ and neighbors’ empty houses, when they took over their businesses? Didn’t the people who lived near the camps smell the filth and rot, the burning flesh? Didn’t they see the clouds of ash? Didn’t they hear the trains, whistling in the night?
I never understood. I couldn’t fathom how such denial of what really couldn’t be denied could have happened. Now, after living for three years in an America governed by Trump, I have a better idea of how it came about.
If you asked them, “Don’t you see that synagogue, burning over there?” They would say, “No I don’t. There is no synagogue.” Or, if they were an American Trumpist, who was trying to be nice, they would say “You believe that there’s a synagogue burning over there. I don’t. Let’s just agree to disagree.”
The ultimate Trump lie, the one in which he becomes as Hitlerian as Hitler, is to claim that the synagogue was burned by the Jews themselves to make Hitler look bad. We’re seeing that in real-time today.
Trump is running campaign ads showing America as it is right now, under his watch, and claiming that this is what will happen if Joe Biden is elected. I saw a meme that explains it better than I can. It says,
FYI the Trump ad that shows fires & looting with the tag line “you won’t be safe in Biden’s America” shows actual footage from Trump’s America.
Trump has successfully gotten his followers to believe that “the liberals” and not him are to blame for his own jaw-dropping incompetence which has gotten us into the mess we are in right now.
This is akin to Hitler, claiming that the Jews caused World War II, that the “the Jews” “forced” him to invade France and Poland. That’s what Hitler did. And running that ad is Trump, doing the same thing.
Hitler’s followers claimed to believe him. Trump’s followers claim to believe him. They were lying then and Trump’s followers are lying now.
Trump has exposed a lot of things we never wanted to see.
He has shown us that many of our religious leaders aren’t even Christian.
He has revealed that our friends are racists who are perfectly willing to support rapists and serial sexual predators for high office. Rape and sexual assault and abusing women don’t matter to them. They lie and say they “don’t believe” these things are happening. But the truth is, they believe it. They just disregard it.
The temptation to say that they don’t care and they don’t have any better morals than Trump runs strong. I actually think that this is true of some Trumpists. In fact, I believe that some of them support him because he’s a racist/misgynist/woman-abusing/traitor/bully/liar etc.
But it’s more complex than that for most of them. You can’t consider that deeply religious people are confusing this banal evil with following Christ without also looking at the religious leadership they are receiving.
Trump’s fanatic followers have been deliberately misled, bullied and lied to by the religious leaders that they trust. They’re still responsible for what they’re doing. But a lot of the guilt belongs to religious leaders who have gone whoring for a political demagogue instead of following Christ. Theirs is by far the greater sin.
Trump has demonstrated that he can get people to lie and lie and lie on his behalf, and that they will do it without remorse, shame or embarrassment.
He has given us many examples of how easy it is for him to get his followers to hate on command. Whether it’s Bill Gates, Dr Fauci, hispanics, black people or women, all he has to do is point them at it, and they will start defaming, smearing, repeating slanders and hating, right on command.
I have seen things I never thought I would see, coming from people I didn’t think were capable of doing them.
Trump has shown me things I never wanted to see, taught me things I never wanted to know, and left me with a greater challenge to my faith in my Church than I ever thought I would face.
The situation in which we find ourselves is that those of us who are willing to say that yes, we see the burning synagogue, are, whether we want to be or not, the faithful remnant.
Those of us who will say that Christ is Lord, that the Ten Commandments are meant to be obeyed, that Jesus is God and He taught the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes and that we are required to follow them, we are the faithful remnant.
I don’t know about you, but I find that a shaky proposition. Nobody’s weaker than me. The idea that this sickly old Granny from South Oklahoma City should be part of the faithful remnant seems preposterous.
But it’s how things have come down.
Trump has shown us things we didn’t believe were true and never wanted to see. He has turned our religious leaders and our Christian friends into Stepford Christians who follow Trump instead of Christ.
Pick up the Gospels of Christ my friends. Lift them high. And do that which you are called by this time in history to do.
Be the faithful remnant to Christ that you already are.