September 21, 2017

Point. Counterpoint. After a divisive presidential election, do you still identify as Christian?

Point: No, I do not identify as Christian.  

I grew up strict Southern Baptist. On Saturday nights, we counted blessings instead of sheep and Sunday mornings we prayed over our biscuits and gravy. My shoes were too tight, but they completed my Sunday

Livie Hall

Livie Hall

best and the pain was washed away by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Believing in God wasn’t an option for me. In Springfield, Missouri, you believed in Him as sure as you believed that Dale Jr. would win the NASCAR race later that day. Now that I’m older, I have questions. Now that Trump is in office, I have even more. If his religious beliefs and Republican agenda represent the same God I was taught about, then I can’t consider myself a Christian anymore.

Trump has discussed his religious beliefs in the same vagueness in which he discusses most things. But let’s get personal. Most people I grew up with are a little radical with their Bible. They operate on a small-minded platform of passive racism, closet homophobia and loud support of Donald Trump.

Even more personal: I hate church. I feel like it’s a superficial wasteland of soccer moms and dads wearing Old Navy polos. The music is too loud and the prayers are too long. Everyone hides their Saturday hangovers under their Sunday makeup and uses the 24 hours of the Sabbath to make up for how they really live their lives during the other 144.

The problem is that the Trump supporters I know like to pick and choose what Bible verses they follow. They are quick to throw God in your face when it’s convenient to their argument and twist the words to paint a very different picture.

Through all these years, there was only one guy who spoke above the hypocrisy, and that was Pastor Tommy. This guy started out his life as a non-believer and one day had an awakening of his own and felt that God had called him to lead others, and so he did. Tommy didn’t put a fancy twist on anything. He read you the verse as it was originally written and rephrased it with today’s terminology. He made it make sense, filled you with some hope and you left the sanctuary with this idea that you weren’t perfect and that was more than okay. Then a few years ago, Mom called to let me know that Tommy had stepped down. In front of the entire congregation, he said he had an affair and didn’t feel like it was right for him to be our pastor because of it.

My heart broke. I knew him and I knew his family. I knew he and his wife were working through it for their marriage and their children. To have the strength to stand up in front of 500 people and vocalize a sin like that took courage most don’t have. That made me want him as a preacher even more. Others felt very differently. They were quick to point fingers, gasp and throw the holy water.

Here’s the deal. In the New King James Version, James 4:12 says there is one lawgiver.  Who are we to judge another? Romans 3:23 says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Daniel 9:9 says mercy and forgiveness belong to God, though we have rebelled against Him.

To make that simple, we all make mistakes, God knows we’re going to make mistakes and if we repent, it’s all good.

So if others were reading the same book that I was, why are so many Christians I know also fervent Trump supporters?

It scares me how many old “friends” I see on social media who subtly boost white supremacy and support Trump’s most harmful policies.

These people are devout Christians and devout Republicans. These are the people with that Victorian-style picture of Jesus hanging above their fireplace next to their mounted 10-point buck. All of their misguided and ignorant ideology is done under the name of Christianity, and that’s just a box I don’t feel like I can put myself in anymore.

I have a lot of issues with certain things in the Bible. I don’t agree with everything and when/if I make it to Heaven, I’ll have a PowerPoint presentation prepared for God so I can get this figured out for myself.

I would like to believe in the God that Pastor Tommy spoke so highly of, one that tore down walls instead of build them. One that invited everyone in instead of shutting them out. One that loved every single person placed on this planet, regardless of their shortcomings, because they were created in His image.

Since that God is being eaten alive by this Republican administration with their holy servitude and righteous agenda, I’ll do my Bible studies at the bar down the street and leave my Christian title at the door.

Counterpoint: Yes, I do identify as Christian.  

In spite of the part some conservative Christians played in the election of Donald Trump, I still call myself a Christian.

Jeni Fehr

Jeni Fehr

For as long as people have existed, religious persecution has been the way of the world. Power shifts, a new regime takes over, and whether or not the dominant party is overtly religious, the change encourages one group or another to assert its dominance.

Droves of Christians have dropped the label following the election of our current president. They reacted to their disappointment by disassociating themselves from a group with which they no longer feel they can identify.  The emotional equivalent of changing your name because you hate your parents. Many profess the same beliefs, but are afraid of the negative connotation.

Before Donald Trump was elected, Christians were already separated into different groups that have historically disagreed on a lot of things. The fact that in November a large group of them supported a candidate

I couldn’t doesn’t change what I believe, or that I call myself a Christian.

Following the election, I found myself surrounded by people who were afraid of what would happen to them in a country led by Trump because of their minority status. I found myself shunted into a group labeled “white, conservative Christian,” and blamed for the hate felt by those who oppose Trump. I fit under those labels. I felt the hate and blame. I understand the desire to hide one’s Christianity.

But I can’t. A core tenet of my faith is that God’s love is for everyone, and therefore I need to treat everyone with love. I also believe that I need to share the source of my love with others, which means I can’t hide the fact that I believe in the God of Christianity. To reject even the label of Christian is a step of hypocrisy I can’t take.

Finally, I can’t hate those who disagree with me. That includes other Christians. Yes, those Christians. God’s love is for everyone, and I need to treat everyone with the same attempt to understand them.

Americans and people who live in the United States of America enjoy a level of religious freedom that others don’t. In some other countries, Christians are harassed or imprisoned for practicing their faith. I have no excuse of risking my safety to stop calling myself a Christian. I have no reason to deny what I believe. I will continue to practice my faith and love people while I can.

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