Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Facing a Trump presidency in faith

Let's talk for a moment about our president-elect.

During the past year, Donald Trump has maligned Hispanics, villified Muslims, mocked the disabled, spread racist lies about blacks and Jews, advocated violence against his critics, and bragged about sexually assaulting women. This is not a man who ran to be president of all America, but only of some of us. His entire campaign was built on excluding "the other" from his vision of America.

During that campaign, Trump regularly attacked the legitimacy of major institutions in this country: the news media, the Congress, both parties, our political process, our intelligence agencies and our military. He has indicated he would like to weaken the protections of the First Amendment itself, to make it easier to sue people who criticize him or who he feels treat him "unfairly." He has shown support for ending marriage equality, and for chipping away at the recently enacted protections for transgender youth at schools.

His business record is an open drain, one where he once lost nearly $1 billion in a single year and and where he has filed for personal bankruptcy not once but multiple times. He regularly has cheated small businesses by reneging on contracts and burying them in litigation to prevent them from collecting what he owes them. He also is subject to ongoing litigation over his business practices, particularly Trump University. This is someone whom we have elected to preside over our economy.

He has run a campaign not on substance and ideas but on innuendo, personal attacks, and one outsize lie after another. We have entrusted him with our international standing, our military and economic alliances, and with partnerships that go back decades if not centuries.

He has advocated violence at his rallies, directed it toward protesters and minorities; and when his supporters have engaged in violence he has praised them for their enthusiasm. As president, Trump will be the chief law enforcement officer of the nation.

Trump's supporters have commended him for "honesty" and not bowing to "political correctness"; but he has not pushed aside the bounds of political correctness to allow a free exchange of ideas, but to mock, humiliate and belittle others. He has not emboldened us toward greater discussion or honesty. He has instead encouraged us to indulge our worst impulses. We have given him the largest bully pulpit in the world.

And now that he's been elected to the presidency, I'm hearing from people that we on the Left are acting hysterically. Conservative Christians are telling us that we need to have faith, that God is on the throne.

This is not hysteria. This is a reasoned, calm and rational assessment of the existential threat that a Trump presidency poses to the Republic.

My 6-year-old is worried that her friends are going to have to leave the country because their parents are here without proper documentation. I comforted my 14-year-old today because she is worried about the increased bullying she fears her LGBTQ friends will face now, and because of the heightened threats to her friends and classmates of color.

Yes, God is on the throne, and by faith we attest that all these things work toward his greater glory. But God was on the throne on Aug. 20, 1934, and we all know what cold comfort his sovereignty proved to be to those who lived under the F├╝hrer. God also was seated on the throne on Oct. 29, 1929, when Herbert Hoover presided over the greatest economic crash in world history; and he was on the throne when George W. Bush presidend over the second greatest. God's sovereignty does not lessen the burden of enduring the things that happen in this world.

This isn't about faith or lack of faith in God's sovereignty. It's a recognition that we're about to see a lot of progress ripped up as millions of our most vulnerable citizens likely will lose their health insurance, as a right-heavy Congress votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act; as it further rips up the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts; as our gay and trans neighbors, friends and relatives face losing the legal protections and recognition they had begun to win; and as an unpredictable demagogue very possibly will get to make multiple lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court.

This is not panic, and it is not hysteria. This is recognizing what our country likely will have to endure, and it is the start of understanding the monumental task God has called us to in pursuing his justice here on earth under an unjust government.

Copyright © 2016 by David Learn. Used with permission.

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