David Daniels

I have a bumper sticker featuring a quote from Gandhi. It says, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”

This quote speaks truth that is evident today. Many Christians are brainwashed by right-wing media and are unwilling to follow Scripture. Evangelical Christians and other religious groups have aligned themselves with Trump and his acts of corruption. In doing so, Evangelicals are placing themselves in contradiction to Jesus.

Having grown-up in a conservative Christian community with strong Calvinist roots, I examined my own beliefs as a young man. I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t call myself Christian because I lacked the strength and self-discipline to eschew material possessions. I struggle with the concept of turning the other cheek. It’s too difficult to love my enemies, as Jesus instructed.  In short, I don’t deserve to call myself a Christian because my faith cannot match my desire for earthly comforts.  But I’m not alone.

Christian politics in Montana has turned its back on feeding hungry children. It has supported removing 100,000 Montanans from Medicaid. Christian radio urges listeners to support Israel as they bomb Palestinian children.  Many of Trump’s Evangelical supporters never wore masks and still believe that Covid-19 is a hoax.  I suppose denying an election is relatively easy compared to denying a global pandemic.

I cannot call myself a Christian because I refuse to associate with politician preachers that attack education, human sexuality, the environment, migrant children, and library books. When did Jesus tell us to bear false witness and tell lies? Election-deniers are spinning falsehoods and innocent people are being harmed by these lies.  The right-wing agenda is supported by churches that spread the poison of election-denialism, personal enrichment, and material wealth at the expense of the needy.

Being exposed to other perspectives and beliefs, as in diversity and inclusion, whether through books, drag  shows, or affirmative action, is not a sin. Nor should it be a crime.  Conservatives pushing prohibitions, including over one’s own body and reproductive health, are doing so for purposes of power. They do not reflect the values of Jesus.

The Christianity taught to me in youth did not cravenly seek power. I was taught that Jesus rejected the temptation of earthly power wielded by rulers.God’s Kingdom does not operate on abuse, intimidation, or corruption. It does not include an army of lawyers, non-disclosure agreements, or screaming fanatics. Those who follow Jesus’ example humbly seek to serve others, not enrich themselves through PACs, stock portfolios, and real estate.

In which Gospel does Jesus condone adultery? Trump paid $130,000 in hush money to Stormy Daniels as a business expense. He also paid off Playboy Bunny Karen McDougal and others, hiding his actions through non-disclosure agreements, a technique also popular with Harvey Weinstein. Perhaps Congress should pass a law voiding non-disclosure agreements involving presidential candidates. Participants from “The Apprentice” TV show are still bound by non-disclosure agreements, as are some of Trump’s own family members. What else is Trump trying to hide?

Thou shalt not steal, except for Donald Trump. Through their political support for Trump, Evangelicals condone inflating values of real estate for loans while deflating values for tax purposes? Trump’s legal troubles reflect his shady business deals, and this includes stealing. Stealing national security documents for later resale.  Why would a true Christian support a candidate involved in over 3,000 business related lawsuits?

Thou shalt not kill, except for vice-presidents. Trump actually tried to assassinate his own vice-president!  During the January 6 Insurrection, Trump incited his mob to attack Pence. Trump waited over 3 hours, and only until after the Secret Service had secured Mike Pence’s safety, before instructing his followers to withdraw from the Capitol. If Trump had had his way, many more people would have been killed on January 6.

A final word about End Times. Many evangelical Christians believe we are living in End Times. I find no scriptural support that gives Christians license to hasten the destruction of the world. Trump’s base of support shows a clear disposition towards anarchy and monkey-wrenching society.   Our form of government is under attack, as is the Constitution itself.  Even if End Times were upon us, I would expect true Christians to show compassion and mercy.  This is not happening in partisan America.

The first of the Ten Commandments instructs us to have “no other Gods before me.”   But the Orange Jesus, Trump, supplants every tenet of faith given to us in the Gospels.  He routinely violates every commandment given to Moses. And he threatens the foundations of our country.  So why is he embraced by so many self-professing Christians and what does that say about their faith?