Misunderstanding Right vs. Wrong

Misunderstanding Right vs. Wrong July 15, 2018

Some thoughts from physicist and theologian Karl Giberson:

As many of my FB friends know, I have been struggling to understand how and why evangelical Christians have become unable to make moral judgments when it comes to the Trump administration. I think I am starting to get a part of the answer based on some discussion about the Red Hen kicking out Sarah Sanders.

When I think about that episode, I see it in moral terms. Sarah Sanders is a member of a group that has decided that child abuse is acceptable governmental policy. Sarah has been fully complicit in this, going on national television to try and rationalize the child abuse.

When I look at this ugly situation, I don’t automatically assume that the folks at the Red Hen are “liberals” who are attacking a “conservative.” To me, this incident is akin to a restaurant kicking out a member of the KKK, a known rapist, a lawyer who manipulated the system to get a child molester freed, or anyone else whose hands are covered in the blood of innocents.

A part of what seems to have happened to evangelicals is that they have entangled their political beliefs with their religious beliefs until “right versus wrong” has become synonymous with “conservative versus liberal.”

Under normal circumstance, freed of politics, they would be horrified by state-sponsored child abuse. But, make the abuse at the hands of the GOP and the primary critics the Dems and suddenly it is just a political issue.

He shared the above in a Facebook comment, and kindly gave permission for it to be shared more widely. And I think it provides a helpful example of what might seem a complication of my recent argument about hierarchical prioritization of values, when in fact I think it illustrates it well. For some, being conciliatory and respectful takes priority over political differences in the case of Democrats vs. Republicans, but not either of those vs. Nazis. I’d argue that this isn’t an instance of the prioritization of the same things being inverted in two different cases. Rather, I think it shows that being respectful can be prioritized higher than different visions for the best approach to the American economy, but lower than the need to counter a group that advocates genocide and hatred. And when the Republican party shifts from merely benefiting the wealthy to actively harming the poor, minorities, and immigrants, the prioritization may have to adjust accordingly.


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