How Would the Great Teacher, Jesus, Grade Trump’s Presidency?

How Would the Great Teacher, Jesus, Grade Trump’s Presidency? May 13, 2019

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

–John 1.5

It’s been over two years now and I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that Donald Trump is president. What makes the whole thing even harder to understand is the fact that he has somehow maintained the Christian Right as his most important support base. I will never comprehend how any person who calls him/herself a Christian can look to Donald J. Trump and see Christ reflected through him in any way imaginable. In order for me to organize my thoughts and find firmer footing for my own stance, please allow me to work through this for the next few minutes. I want to try to match what Trump has said and done with my understanding of the example and teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus was the Great Teacher. What would his report card for President Trump look like?

Money

For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 

–1 Timothy 6:10

It can’t possibly even be argued (can it?) that President Trump is involved in a life-long love affair with money. It’s the one true and lasting love of his life. He is a self-proclaimed financial genius, yet, as more details emerge about his business/tax history, he seems to have failed more often than not. What’s worse, his economic policies tend to be of the sort that only end up benefitting monolithic corporations and mega-wealthy individuals. Jesus spoke a lot about money. He had a tremendous heart for the poor and very little patience for greed among the wealthy. I see no way he’d give Trump a passing grade here.

Grade = F

Immigration

You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

–Deuteronomy 10:19

But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them form coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

–Matthew 19:14

One of Trump’s main campaign promises was to “Build that wall.” He famously promised that Mexico would pay for it (how’s that working out, by the way?). A man who has built an empire on the labor of undocumented immigrants saw an opportunity to prey on ignorance and create a “national crisis” at the border. Make no mistake, this was a political move, plain and simple. Trump’s problem is, too many people called his bluff and now he’s been left hanging in limbo on this issue. There is, in fact, no crisis at the border. Illegal crossings have been on a steady decline for years. So, Trump felt compelled to go on the offensive and paint immigrants as dangerous criminals, drug pushers, murderers, and rapists. These dog whistles were successful in whipping the most bigoted portion of his support base into a frenzy, thus keeping alive an otherwise non-issue. In order to help fuel the fires of this manufactured crisis, patrols at the border increased in intensity. Frightened children were placed in holding cages, separated from their parents. If you can look at this and believe that Jesus would give this his seal of approval, you and I have a very different perception of reality. Jesus was an immigrant, he had great compassion for children. No passing grade here.

Grade = F

Black Lives Matter

Trump saw an opportunity in the peaceful National Anthem protests conducted by many NFL players. A man who has, numerous times, been seen struggling to sing the right words to the anthem called for the firing of the “sons of bitches” who would dare take a knee during the pregame performance of the Star Spangled Banner. Trump knew well that the most racist portion of his support base would respond in kind to his stance. Although all the players who took part in the protests made it very clear that they meant no disrespect to the flag or to the military, all that was ignored. Also ignored was the message behind their protests. Police brutality is a persistent problem in many black communities. How prevalent and pervasive a problem it is really isn’t relevant–to me anyway. What matters is that millions of our country’s citizen see a big problem and live in constant fear of interactions with police. Would Jesus turn a blind eye to them and call the protesters “sons of bitches”? Jesus was always on the side of the marginalized. This won’t pass.

Grade = F

Environment

A righteous man has regard for the life of animals. But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel.

–Proverbs 12:10

If the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, then it is especially true when it comes to what’s happening to the environment. In a little over two years, Trump has rolled back many measures that were put in place to curtail the environmental damage done by huge corporations. Less restrictions mean more profit, we are told, but at what cost? Our oceans are turning into cesspools. Just within the last few years, much the Great Barrier Reef has died. Scientists predict that within the next few decades, 90% of the ocean’s reef systems will be dead. Ice caps continue to melt, sea levels continue to rise, and Trump continues to push for more coal and more oil. Jesus affirmed what the scriptures say about stewardship of God’s creation. He would not be happy with Trump’s environmental track record.

Grade = F

LGBT Rights

Donald Trump never used to be anti-LGBT. This is another example of him capitalizing on the passions of the Christian Right. After many gains for the LGBT community under the Obama administration, the arrival of Trump was an opportunity to set back the clock. Trump’s vice presidential choice, Mike Pence, is notorious for his bigoted views on LGBT issues. That choice itself was like throwing a bone to the Christian Right. Those on the far right are continually trying to run an end around on the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment which mandates separation of Church and State. They are always trying to funnel the rights of citizens through their own highly debatable interpretation of the Christian Bible. Conform, assimilate, or suffer the consequences of marginalization. So far as we know, Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. He did affirm that we are created in the image of God. He did say that the greatest commandment was to love God with all our hearts and quickly tagged the second “which is like it”, to love our neighbors as ourselves. Would Jesus condone same sex unions? That’s one of a multitude of questions I can’t answer with certainty, but I do believe he would prefer a committed, loving, and monogamous, same sex relationship to the kinds of marriages and extra-marital affairs Donald Trump has had. In fact, I feel that with complete certainty. 

Grade = F

Abortion

This one is the fuzziest of the subjects on this report card. Here is what I know: Like LGBT issues, Trump never used to care one iota about the pro-life cause before he entered politics. Once again, he capitalized upon this hot-button-issue because he was banking on the support of the Christian Right. I also know that he has been blatantly lying about the nature of late-term abortions, deliberately misleading his remaining support base, whose heart may be in the right place in their passionate stance against abortion, but their heads are, shall we say, disengaged. Here is what I suspect: Donald Trump is likely directly responsible for multiple abortions. Where Jesus would have stood on Abortion is a difficult call to make. I’m certain he would hate it, like I and pretty much everyone else–pro-life or pro-choice–do. But I have to believe he’d understand the layers of nuance under ever gut-wrenchingly difficult choice that must be made. I also am certain that he would not approve of the way Trump spreads lies and deceit as he campaigns on the issue. Due to the complexity involved here, I’m going to leave some room for doubt on this subject.

Grade = C-

So, the report card is in.

If I did the math right, Trump’s GPA is 0.28. 

So, Christian Right, let’s see your report card. I’d love to see how you justify the performance of this president on issues compared to the example and teachings of Christ.

Listen to the podcast version of this article at the link below. 

 

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