By J. Andrew Daugherty
Now that President Trump has been acquitted by the Senate GOP, the time is now for Christians of all spiritual and political stripes to launch a moral impeachment against him. If since his acquittal he believes that he can break the law and do and say whatever he wants with impunity, the legal grounds for removing this president have become secondary to the moral and ethical grounds.
The U.S. Constitution sets forth the governing principles of the country. Politicians rightly invoke the spirit of our nation’s founders to honor their duty to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. Their failure to do so can spell the difference between democracy and dictatorship; the rule of law or the law of the ruler; the common good of all or the special benefits of the few.
Christianity has a Constitution, too. The Sermon on the Mount is a living document imbued with the spirit and wisdom of its founder, Jesus. It sets forth the spiritual foundations of the faith. Jesus teaches, “Blessed are the poor and the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are those who are persecuted falsely (for doing what is right or for being who they are).”
It’s as profound for what it does say as much as for what it does not say. What it does not say is, “Blessed are the arrogant. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for political power at any cost. Blessed are those who bully these blessed ones.”
Instead, it is charged with both protest for those the world calls “winners” and blessing for those the world calls “losers.” It conveys a spiritual indictment on morally damaging behaviors no matter where they may be found — whether in the world, God’s house or the White House.
These days, the ones Trump mocks as pitiful, mournful and the “losers” (women, people of color, immigrants and refugees, Jews, Muslims, persons with disabilities) are the ones Jesus praises as being the “blessed ones.”
Trump’s scapegoating of the vulnerable is as vicious as his hijacking of Christianity is vile. Trump has bullied the blessed long enough.
A recent advertisement from conservative-led The Lincoln Project takes aim at this severe disassociation between the sacred teachings of Jesus and Trump’s profane words. Add to this that Trump lies or misleads the American public 22 times per day (a lie for almost every hour of the day), and it all adds up to being an impeachable offense to the constitution of Christ’s gospel. If this is the “most biblical president in history,” as some evangelicals believe, then God save us all indeed.
Trump fancies himself a stable genius, but his spiritual I.Q. is zero. It’s not fake news that is the problem. It is his fake faith. He desecrates the integrity of Christianity every time he denigrates women, people of color, immigrants and refugees, persons with disabilities, and even his political enemies, as he did at the recent National Prayer Breakfast.
Lest ministers like me be criticized for being “too political,” it’s instructive that Jesus himself was not politically neutral. He took up the cause of women and children, the poor and immigrants. He had a penchant for calling out political figures, too. He referred to elitist religious leaders and ruthless political leaders as “foxes, snakes, and brood of vipers.” He taught that words reveal what is in a person’s heart.
Jesus gives scathing rebuke to those whose words are out of joint with their behaviors. For the love of God and the common good, it is time for his followers to follow suit and offer moral indictment of a commander-in-chief commandeering Christianity’s founder to advance his political agenda. It has clearly become a logical and spiritual fallacy that one can pledge political allegiance to the anti-Christian language and spirit of Donald Trump and claim spiritual allegiance to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
At President Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017, evangelical Rev. Samuel Rodriguez stood up to the podium for the prayer of invocation and simply read the Beatitudes (the opening words of the Sermon on the Mount) and sat down.
It is now time to revisit those same words of wisdom that served as an invocation and let them be a benediction on this spiritually fraudulent president.
The Gospel of St. Matthew says, “By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Donald Trump’s words say it all.
Rev. J. Andrew Daugherty is senior pastor of Pine Street Church in Boulder.
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