Last night Pence decided to defend the unfounded, indefensible lie by Trump that he would have won the popular vote had all those millions of illegal votes not been counted. Right now, Pence’s sole job at this point is to get Trump through the electoral college vote. Then, I believe he and Preibus will collude with the cabinet to remove Trump for being unfit. Pence just has to hang in there. If the electoral college finds Trump unfit and selects Romney or McCain or, God forbid, Hillary, then he is out of a primo job! I have seen Mike Pence bear false witness out of fear for his position, in order to appease Trump. Where is his fear of the wrath of God? Every bone in my body despises Pence for his “Christian” self-righteous hypocrisy that allows him to serve a man such as Trump.
And with Pence, we will have a great big “Christian” renaissance destroying boundaries between church and state. Pence’s “Christian” values will place Creation Science in public schools as science and hobble young minds, making science an impossible career pursuit. He will legislate government controls over women’s bodies and he will do everything he can to roll back LGBT rights. He fundamentally does not respect individuals and believes he is justified in imposing his religious beliefs on others who, clearly, do not share them.
In trying to find a silver lining in this whole political nightmare, I am thankful for Trump’s election for one thing. Trump has freed me to talk about things more directly and less gently than I ever before would have. It is time for some unvarnished candor, and Trump has the honor of being standard bearer for the tone of my address.
Given this kind of candor can be pretty harsh, I have laser-focused some of my core values in order to remain true to my deeply held beliefs. The first anchoring belief is that each person that walks the earth deserves respect. My respect for people entails understanding they are each uniquely precious, that they have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And for me, it includes having some nominal level of resources that ideally includes a bit of love for exactly who they are.
This respect for people does not require me to respect their unenlightened, unfounded, wrong or idiotic beliefs. Maybe to keep things friendly, I do not have to share my opinion of their beliefs with them. But, unfortunately, it has come to that point in this country that their delicate feelings can no longer be spared to get our nation back on track.
And this respect precludes tolerating hearing anymore crap about Muslims as an undifferentiated lump of threat. Every Muslim is an individual and right now the lion’s share of terror going on in the United States is far more associated with White Supremacist beliefs than anything associated with Islam. It amazes me how there is an attitude that every Muslim is responsible for the acts of any Muslim. Beyond that, it floors me that this attitude is uniquely applied to Islam. It happens that the White Supremist movement calls themselves a “Christian” movement. So let’s have a conversation about “Christians” for a change. I am putting “Christians” in quotes because, while I have no doubt there are real Christians, I want to distinguish between hateful, misguided people from people on a meaningful spiritual path. I had very Christian neighbors who lived their faith and I thought they shared with one another, and even me, a Jew, deeply moral, meaningful lives.
If we can hold the spiritual community of Islam responsible for the behavior of individual Muslims, how about a little parity in addressing some “Christian” behavior? Maybe there is some reasonable value in addressing the role of communities in a member’s behavior. But, if it is appropriate for the Islamic community, it is appropriate for the Christian, Jewish and other spiritual communities.
I personally have shied from talking about my specific religious beliefs because once you name something, like God, and start think on it, you are imposing your puny mental limitations on something that must, by definition, exceed your comprehension and lacks adequate language to describe. It may even be the situation that the sublime nature of God cannot be captured in any coherent human thought. So, to me, it seems like espousing personal beliefs is an exercise in futility. Maybe that is why there are commandments not to take his name in vain and forbidding images, as labels and images will confuse and always fall short.
Nonetheless, I feel compelled by circumstance to talk about God in order to take God back from the very large sect of people I have labeled “Christians” in the United States. They are a self-righteous set of hypocritical, judgemental, uncharitable humans that view part of their religious practice as enforcing their prohibitions and requirements on all within their reach. Implicit in their belief system is that no one has access to a relationship with God except through their belief system anchored in historic events over 2000 years ago.
A large portion of these “Christians” willingly engage in deception in an effort to bring all people who believe differently from them to the “true faith”. On most college campuses it is routine for an invitation to a social gathering leads to a group of unsuspecting students being “Good Newsed”. Of course the sponsor or purpose of the gathering is a “big surprise” because otherwise, no one would attend. I am not sure who invented this approach first the “Christians” or Amway. I will leave the entire category of “prosperity ministries” that prey on the weak minded poor for another day.
These “Christians” believe they hold the copyright on God. It has always been bad form to share your opinions with them about their illegible xerox image. Maybe being too polite doesn’t work with people who knock on stranger’s doors. My usual response is, “I’m a Jew. I’m good with God. I hope he leads you to knock on the door of someone who really needs some help and support.” I am tired of repeating to myself, “They mean well.” It seems much of secular society treats these “Christians” with the patience you have with children. But they are not children and polite society has enabled and further emboldened them.
I now realize that enabling them by being polite has created a problem with drawing a line between church and state. Many of the bully pulpits of these groups are highly political. To me, that should end their tax-free status. But no one has the nerve to really separate things. The “visuals” could be problematic.
So these churches end up without check on their role in politics, and there can be big money there. And they produce political candidates with the trademark teenie tiny hobbled perspective that worships some weird teenie tiny image of God. This teenie tiny image of God requires them to reject established science because their image of God isn’t big enough to accommodate part of God’s own creation. These people are spiritually stunted and I have no interest in further discussing with them their “eye on the prize” salvation or their prayers for me. I have spent times in my life politely silent when meeting these sorts of people. I regret enabling them.
It is important that everyone understands you don’t have to go full atheist like Hitchens to fight these “Christians” and their amoral manipulators. They don’t OWN God, though they want you to believe they do. It is a sad tribute to modern monotheism that no one except complete non-believers have stepped up to call out such a large sector of organized religion in the United States. But, if you can know men by their acts, these “Christians” might be worshiping something, but it certainly has no resemblance to an all encompassing fountainhead of wisdom and love. I may not have a full grasp of what spiritual salvation is, if such a thing exists, but I am sure as heck these excessively literal people of limited understanding are not heading towards any kingdom of goodness and light.
My second, closely held believe is that freedom to practice your faith via conventional religion or personal journey helps us make sense of our time on this earth. So I am not saying these “Christians” can’t continue with their hypocritical, self-righteous excessively literal worship. Carry on, I say! It is your inalienable right protected by the Constitution. But the US Constitution makes a clear separation of Church and State and I am tired of weird, ossified, small-minded “Christian” beliefs being hoisted me or anyone else who is not interested! I am talking to YOU Mike Pence, a man who will choke up a disgusting lie because he Has made a bound allegence to Trump. Or, is lying to forward your personal religious agenda permitted? Has Mike Pence received a special dispensation to repeatedly break commandments in order to bring God’s laws to the country?
I don’t care if “Christians” are offended by what I just said. It’s been a long time coming, and this self-satisfied, repulsive hypocrisy and fear was fertile ground for Trump’s campaign. I have heard the intolerate, hateful, ignorant, incredibly unGodly, just plain wrong-minded worship, and I am taking God back from these “Christians” as I am positive God wants nothing to do with their stupidity. If maybe my language is harsh, please understand that the disrespect and nastiness you set loose, accepted and normalized during Trump’s campaign is not going back in the genie bottle after it has served your purpose.
For the “Christians” who take exception to my description of their behavior and beliefs as being disrespectful of them, none of the adjectives I used to describe them and their behavior are essential to their personhood. These are accurate adjectives that are completely under your control. If you are hateful, you can chose not to be hateful. If it is in your hands, I can be critical of it and still be respectful of your humanity.
To my Christian, Jewish, and Muslim friends, I hope it is crystal clear that nothing I have said here should offend you. As a matter of fact, I am issuing a call to action. If you have “Christians” in your church, you need to show them they are not Christians if you care anything for their fellowship. If there are whole churches in your community that espouse judgement, hate or ignorance, it is incumbent on you that these neighbors are not permitted to tacitly assume they are right or justified or Godly. Do not accost them, do not persecute them, inform them. Let them feel the burden of having to publicly witness to the hate, arrogant judgement and ignorance they propagate. It may be there are good people among them that just do not have the will to clean their own house. Show them they are not alone and that their spiritual journey should not be tethered to a house of arrogant self-righteous hate and ignorance. Appeal to their “better angels” and that they need to get back to caring about the poor, old and sick, loving without judgement those that are different from themselves because those are the post signs on the ONLY road to spiritual enlightenment that we have as individuals of any faith and as a nation. Silently standing by because it is awkward is not Christian, it is actually enabling them.
I also hold the same belief about “Jews” and “Muslims” in their communities. Let us take God back from these unGodly people. If this was tough for you to read, but if you could easily agree had “Muslim” and “Sharia” be switched in for “Christian” and “scriptures” in this essay, I may be addressing you, personally. There is a wound, a mark on our collective soul and it can no longer be ignored. It is not limited to any particular faith. It must be addressed and the band aid of civility must come off to treat and truly heal the ugly, unGodly divide that has been created.