The time has come to have a talk about the state of our world. President Donald Trump was overwhelmingly carried into office by people who fit my profile. White. Evangelical. Rural. In doing so, we’ve made an incredible mistake. Our children will never understand our silence in the face of such events. There is currently, in American power structures, an oppressive force at work. And if those who know better had claimed another religion, or had stirred up another demographic, then perhaps I may escape without having to bear witness. But it is my people who are whipped into a religious fervor, therefore I cannot remain silent.
Long ago, God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai. On the mountain, Moses received the Ten Commandments and the words quoted below. The Lord’s words to Moses seem especially poignant today.
“Don’t pass on malicious gossip.
“Don’t link up with a wicked person and give corrupt testimony. Don’t go along with the crowd in doing evil and don’t fudge your testimony in a case just to please the crowd. Exodus 23:1-2
In the past couple of weeks, president Trump has played to the crowd most notably by referring to a largely African-American contingent of peaceful protesters as worthy of losing their careers and being branded a “sonofabitch.” The leader of the most powerful nation in the world has spent his time attacking people who are attempting to bring attention to police brutality – a reality which results in black men being disproportionately killed by law enforcement – while refusing to address the underlying issues of systemic racism.
This hateful, divisive rhetoric is expressly forbidden among the people of God.
And just because someone is poor, don’t show favoritism in a dispute… “When there is a dispute concerning your poor, don’t tamper with the justice due them. v.3.6
Currently congress and the president are banding together to strip the poor of health care and other safety nets, such as SNAP, which would leave millions of people struggling with poverty worse off. These cuts are being made so that the military budget can be increased to record spending and so the top one percent of the wealthiest Americans can see a tax break. Meanwhile, the poor are being further punished for their lot in life. Thankfully voices in all communities are speaking out against further disenfranchisement of the poor. And yet both the leadership in both Senate and the House of Representatives is working to find a way to enact these cuts.
This is not the way of the people of God. We are expressly called to work together to get justice for the poor.
“If you find your enemy’s ox or donkey loose, take it back to him. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you lying helpless under its load, don’t walk off and leave it. Help it up. v.4-5
One would imagine that the common courtesy described here wouldn’t include condescending comments toward your neighbor as you take their donkey back to them. And yet, as Puerto Rico sat for a week, largely under water and without power, the best president Trump could do was to criticize the U.S. territory for their financial disaster brought about by crooked Wall Street loans.
“Stay clear of false accusations. Don’t contribute to the death of innocent and good people. I don’t let the wicked off the hook.
“Don’t take bribes. Bribes blind perfectly good eyes and twist the speech of good people. v.7-8
There have been nearly as many American mass shootings int he past five years as there has been days. Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association gives a significant amount of money to congressmen. Here in Exodus 23, God expressly forbids contributing to the death of innocent lives, as well as the taking of bribes. The fact that the same elected representatives responsible for making common sense laws are bought and paid for by the gun lobby makes one understand why the taking of innocent lives and the taking of bribes would be paired.
“Don’t take advantage of a stranger. You know what it’s like to be a stranger; you were strangers in Egypt. v.9
This point hardly requires elaboration. Christians have been all too eager to erect walls and block refugees from entering our land. And yet, here is God telling Moses to extend kindness to the stranger in our midst.
In short, however much the president and those in congress may make claims on the basis of a Christian worldview, their actions and words could hardly be further than God’s vision for a just society. And while nobody has a corner on the truth, the burden rests on those who would fall in lock step with the present leadership. Because whatever this president’s supporters believe they will receive for the price of loyalty is an illusion.