The Good, The Bad, The Trump

Dear Jentezen Franklin, Senior Pastor of Free Church, Gainesville, Georgia (as well as the almost 180 other evangelical Christian faith leaders who signed the recent letter to the editor of Christianity Today magazine),

I read with great interest today the letter you sent to Dr. Timothy Darymple, the President of Christianity Today, in response to the editorial entitled Trump Should Be Removed From Office that was written by the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Mark Galli last Thursday. I must say I could barely contain myself upon reading it. It was heartwarming at this special religious time of year to see a group of committed individuals, showing no deviation of thought or desire to think for themselves, standing up for good old fashioned Christian values and, by extension, the much-maligned, ridiculed, mocked, satirised, derided, parodied and caricatured forty-fifth President of the United States, Donnie the Big Baby Donald Trump.

Galli’s editorial,  Trump Should Be Removed From Officeargued that President Trump should be removed from office. Galli cited Trump’s involvement in the Ukraine scandal as one reason for this but also his “immoral words and behavior”, which he said many evangelical Christians have over-looked “in the cause of political expediency”. Essentially, he said that you support the President because he likes telling pregnant women what they should and should not do with their bodies (just like you do); because he promotes judges who like telling pregnant women what they should and should not do with their bodies; because he thinks it’s OK to fire gay people (which means there are more jobs for people who like telling pregnant women what they should and should not do with their bodies); and because he makes laws to ensure that Christians are free to tell pregnant women what they should and should not do with their bodies as loudly and often as they like (preferably on Fox News and outside abortion clinics). And also because Trump dislikes the gays. And trans people. And foreigners who don’t believe in Jesus.

Needless to say, you and your friends were not happy with this editorial. Not happy at all. Its suggestion that President Trump is a racist, blasphemous, cruel, mendacious, profane, threatening, adulterous and immoral man whose behaviour you good Christian leaders choose to ignore because he’s not a Democrat (and hates abortion) was highly offensive. How could anyone suggest that the President was immoral? Cleverly, you chose not to use examples of the President’s actual words to counter the claim that he is a racist, blasphemous, cruel, mendacious, profane, threatening, adulterous and immoral man. There are simply so many words to choose from [“grab ’em by the pussy“, “spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain”, “low class slob” etc.]; it would have been difficult to pinpoint the most moral. Similarly, you chose to steer clear of the President’s actions [refusing to rent properties to black tenants; touching women inappropriately; using charity money to fund his campaign etc.] to prove his good Christian morality. He’s so old and done so many things that pinpointing the best examples would have been nigh on impossible. So, cleverly, instead of addressing Trump’s words and behaviour, your letter chose to ignore them for the sake of expediency.

Perhaps feeling, however, that the issue of President Trump’s morality needed to be dealt with slightly more directly, last Friday you wrote your own opinion piece (without your 180 friends this time) and I read that too. And, boy, am I glad I did! I already knew it was going to be good when I saw the title: Why I still stand by 45. As if anyone could think that a good Christian wouldn’t! In the article I assumed you were going to run through the solidly moral Christian traits the President has displayed throughout his long life, giving examples of the solidly moral Christian things he has done, in order to put to bed once and for all the spurious rumours that he is a despicable and vile human being. So imagine my shock, then, when you did no such thing. Imagine my shock, then, as I read on and it became clear that you didn’t need to! A list of examples of President Trump’s moral character serves no purpose when, as you so adroitly put it, he lives up to a “different kind of integrity and character” [italics mine]. No run-of-the mill Christian morality for Trumpy, like that demanded of the rest of Jesus’ acolytes. No, Trump has his own special kind. And to think, for all these years I thought that the hard-line, right-wing, evangelical Christian message was that there was only one Bible, one God and one way of living as a moral human being. But all along there was Trump’s way too.

And it turns out it’s not a difficult way either. In your article, you explain that Trump’s morality comes from being the “most pro-life president in modern history” and replacing “what was once a politically driven, activist judicial system” with “over 200 conservative federal judges”. That’s it! So simple. Trump’s love of abortion and anti-LGBT judges trumps old-fashioned Christian morality of yesteryear. Who’d have thought it? Next you’ll be telling me they’re bringing forward the publication of Trump’s Bible!

I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart, Jentezen, for teaching me that, in Christianity, a person’s moral character no longer depends on whether they lie, cheat, steal, insult, assault people, incite violence or spread hate, but rather on whether they believe that some people (pregnant women, LGBT people, immigrants etc.) should have fewer rights than others. It’s refreshing to know that Christianity is still evolving after all these years. Remember back in the day when Christianity thought that women shouldn’t have uncovered heads in church and that slavery was all good! I guess hard-line, right-wing, evangelical Christians have to accept that things move on.

Anyway, I’m going to leave this letter here as I’m sure you’ll be busy getting ready for the holy time of Christmas. Make sure you don’t work too hard over the festive period though, won’t you? Come January, I think you’ll be thankful for the rest. Now that lying, cheating, stealing, insulting. assaulting, blaspheming and hating don’t matter to Christianity anymore, there are some big chunks of the Bible you might need to start re-writing.

Or you could just ignore the bits you don’t want to deal with, I suppose. For the sake of expediency.

Merry Christmas!

R