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Kamloops News

THOMPSON: The disconnect between Christianity and Trump's supporters

August 12, 2019 - 12:00 PM



I went to church when I was a teenager…mostly because my girlfriend did. That ended on a Sunday in late September of 1968. As usual, I was a little late for services. After parking across the street from the First Baptist Church in my hometown, I ran toward the church entrance.

I slowed to a walk and then stood on the sidewalk at the base of the wide steps at the church entrance when I saw two deacons…men I had known for several years…coming down the steps. Their arms were waving front of them…their body language clearly saying, “No, you can’t come in.”

But it was not me they were signalling. I’m not even sure they saw me. No, their focus…their denial…was aimed at a family of Seminole Indians. As best as I can recall, there was a mother and father and three children.

The deacons stopped them…asked them to leave. I didn’t hear every word spoken, but the family left…and as they passed me…I remember I couldn’t muster the nerve to look them in the eye. I wasn’t exactly sure what had happened…it just didn’t seem right. That was the last Sunday I went to a Southern Baptist church.

And when my girlfriend became my wife three years later…I relented and was married in that church. My soon-to-be wife and I understood that her parents had many friends in that church so we agreed to be married there. But we insisted on a Protestant preacher because we knew the Southern Baptist preacher…a minister…a man of God…had given the order to stop those Seminole Indians from entering his church.

I’ve not been much of a church-goer since. Yes, I’ve visited several…Methodist, Catholic, Episcopal, even another Baptist church. But there’s something about them that just doesn’t sit right with me.

We all have to find our ways in life. I discovered spirituality without an actual church. For those who can’t imagine a life without church…so be it. To each his own. Perhaps if I had overlooked a lot of things during my life - like keeping the Seminole Indians out of church - and other hypocrisies…maybe I’d be a church-goer as well.

But that is the problem. I couldn’t make those inconsistencies work for me. Believe me, that’s not me being anti-religious. I - like most people - have done or said things I regret… and those certainly prevent me from being a holier-than-thou type.

Today, if you ask far too many Americans…they’ll tell you America is a Christian nation. The problem is…America is a nation founded on freedom of religion. You can be a Christian…or a Jew…or a Muslim…or an atheist. That is the theory.

The practice, I fear, isn’t so. In fact, it’s not a heckuva lot different today than it was when I watched those Seminole Indians being turned away by Christians…and they were trying to be Christians.

It seems a lot of Christians have somehow convinced themselves that they can live in two worlds. They aren’t the least uncomfortable with Donald Trump…complete with his brand of nationalism…which more often than not reveals itself as white nationalism.

They aren’t uncomfortable with the treatment of men, women and children of colour at the Mexican/U.S. border. They seem to have little problem going to church and embracing the Word of God…and seeing it Trump’s way…and Pence’s way…and the Republican way.

I’ve always been just a little suspicious of any gathering…a large group that might seem to have good intentions…then morphs into a crowd that tries to define for everyone how they should live and think and feel and act.

That is what Trump Republicans have become…and the Religious Right is in lock step with them…not exactly dragged along. One of the problems this group has is their belief that only they have values…only they are believers…only they are patriots. Democrats and Liberals and Progressives are all those things, as well.

A photo of Donald Trump hugging the American flag looks more perverse than patriotic.

Tell me how - if you’re a good, decent, God-fearing and patriotic American - you can wholeheartedly embrace Trump?

He evaded the draft…never served in the military…has a long record as a racist…doesn’t care about poor people…and as far as women, he likes to - in his own words - "grab ‘em by the pussy.” I could go on and on and on…but I’d think that might be enough to convince you that you’re being duped.

All the things Republicans used to be known for…like fiscal responsibility…gone. The interest on America’s US $22 Trillion debt is US $479 Billion a year. America’s Defense budget this year is US $686 Billion.

Americans spent billions of dollars this year on tanks…and they already have more than 6,000 state-of-the-art tanks on the ground. America has an Air Force…but so does the Army, Marines and the Navy. Each branch of military service has a paid lobbyist to influence Congressional spending. Really?

I’m a firm believer that almost everything that might be wrong with government starts at the individual level. Individual citizens let it happen. They look the other way…they assume the people they vote for have America’s interests at heart…or they simply don’t care. Citizens need to educate themselves…follow what is being done rather than what is being said…otherwise bad things happen.

We can all do a better job…Canadians as well as Americans. Because if you think what’s happened in America can’t happen here…you’re wrong…so very wrong.

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines. His essays are a blend of news reporting and opinion.

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