My Bible reading this morning included Psalm 15. I was so struck by it that I decided to share it with you. Here it is:
Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?
Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,
speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
Those who refuse to gossip
or harm their neighbors
or speak evil of their friends.
Those who despise flagrant sinners,
and honor the faithful followers of the Lord,
and keep their promises even when it hurts.
Those who lend money without charging interest,
and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.
Such people will stand firm forever.
Psalm 15 describes an honorable person, someone who can be trusted with power and the lives of other people.
In other words, it is describing the exact opposite of the kind of person that Christians have come to worship and place in power here in America. Due to the false teachings of political whore clergy, many American Christians have become so deluded that they think the Commandments and the Gospels are superfluous to leading a Christian life.
Things like telling the truth, refusing bribes, avoiding corruption, fidelity to our nation, living clean lives sexually have all become old hat non sequiturs to today’s American Christians. Instead of following Jesus Christ and Him crucified, they place the Republican elephant and a hollow demagogue like Donald Trump on the altar of their churches and of their hearts and they follow them blindly, no matter how ridiculous, destructive and outrageous their behavior and demands become.
It appears that they are willing to either participate in or support an attempt to overthrow a legal election and set Trump in place as our dictator. Even now, after we came within a hair of losing our democracy, they still support this man’s corrupt behavior and believe his stupid, self-serving lies.
He is, in every sense of the word that matters, their god.
They admire greed, sexual predation and depravity; lying, bullying, stealing and cruelty. The qualities of human character that build and support a nation such as honesty, integrity and decency are qualities that they regard as weakness and treat with contempt. Trump is their god who sets their values. They call themselves Christians, but their god is a false idol.
I do not place full blame on the pew-sitting faithful who have fallen into this idolatry. They have been deluded into this by false shepherds. Despite that, these pew sitters are, obviously, responsible for what they do.
They consented to follow lying media hucksters. They listened to hate-filled rants on tv and radio for many decades, gradually winding themselves into this deluded state.
They chose to attend churches with preachers who rant and rave and lie and strut. They followed quack priests and bishops who attack the pope and preach racism, misogyny, hatred and salvation by politics.
They could, at any time, have switched the channel. They didn’t have to seek out bitter vitriol and insanity on the internet. They weren’t required to line up for their daily feed at the insanity trough.
By the same token, they could have gone to a different church, switched to a different parish, got in their cars and driven — even if it meant driving for several hours — to another diocese. They could have written the Vatican and complained about their quack bishop. They could have refused to give their donations to a political temple masquerading as a church.
They could, in short, have chosen something other than political idolatry. They always had a choice about who they followed and who they worshipped.
And they chose to follow evil.
The pew sitters have their own share of blame for their own actions. But that blame is a penny to a dollar compared to the ignominy that rests on the shoulders of those who misled them. The media moguls who have gotten rich off selling hate and division are absolutely culpable. The billionaire club that financed the overtaking of our society stand at the pinnacle of the responsibility mountain. All these men and women bear enormous responsibility for the harm they have done.
But the clergy — the men and women who claim they speak for God — are the blackest of all.
They have lied about God. They have done it directly and repeatedly while claiming to their flocks that they were speaking for God.
They have deliberately and with full knowledge of what they were doing led the people of God into idolatry before false political idols. They have taught the people of God that the Gospels are liberal claptrap and the Commandments are something to put on a plaque in front of government buildings, then ignore.
They have denied Christ.
And they’ve taught their followers that denying Christ is righteousness.
Read Psalm 15 carefully. It’s a simple outline of honorable behavior. It’s mild. It doesn’t get into the particulars of righteous living before God. It only addresses the basic, obvious requirements of honorable living.
Who may enter Your Presence on Your holy hill? Those who don’t lie, slander, extort, take bribes, or lionize those who do these things.
That’s straight forward and easy. It’s the basics of honorable living, the baseline of what it takes to enter into relationship with God. You must be an honest, honorable human being to even walk in the door.
How many American Christians can honestly say they fit this description? How many of us can say we even try to fit it? How many American clergy can say they make any attempt at all to teach their flocks to value these qualities, either in themselves or the people they chose to associate with and for their leaders?
Anyone who doesn’t live the basic teachings of this Psalm is unfit for human company. That fact that we have repeatedly chosen to ignore these values and put an entire Republican Congressional caucus as well as a Republican president in power who abjures these simplest requirements of honorable behavior says far more than most people are willing to face about themselves.