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The Trump administration focused on two primary talking points this past Friday:
- Jesus is fine with separating families who are fleeing horrific conditions.
- Americans should honor President Trump when he speaks with the same reverence as the North Koreans are required to demonstrate.
So I guess this is a thing now.
Bear in mind, these fantastically bizarre ideas were most likely an attempt to distract the media and, therefore, the public from Paul Manafort's most recent trip to the clink. We see this tactic frequently used to distract from the most deviant statements and behaviors of the President, which seem to happen on most days that end with the letter “y”. Still, the Trump administration is seriously underestimating the average American's ability to walk and chew "clean coal" at the same time, a staple diet of the late 2010s.
This curious incursion into Biblical justification for such a horrifying practice can easily be refuted if you attend any honest Sunday school class. A quick read through the four Gospels of the New Testament will inform the reader that Jesus frequently defied the law and was subsequently killed for it. Perhaps the greatest irony is the fact that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has attempted to justify the harsh treatment for immigrant children and their families by quoting the apostle Paul, who did a fair amount of his writing from jail. Let's not forget those pesky Bible verses that mention caring for the poor and oppressed, the least of these, and even a full-on command to care for immigrants in Exodus 22:21.
However, given the unrelenting loyalty that the conservative evangelical base has shown to the Trump administration, you might hear interpretation of this holy book evolving very quickly within the ranks of the red-ticket faithful. The moral gymnastics are astounding. 10 out of 10.
The latest challenge for these faith communities (and the current administration has given them plenty) now lies with the deference that President Trump is showing to Kim Jong Un. Here we see the American president capitulating to a man who embodies the antithesis of what makes our nation great, is an avowed enemy religious liberty, and our President expresses a desire to emulate such a totalitarian thug. Kim Jong Un commits more human rights violations before breakfast than there are North Koreans who can actually afford breakfast.
But according to the President of the United States, such a leader is “smart” and "strong." Apparently, part of making America great again is a healthy dose of comparing ourselves to murderous dictators. Got it.
What should be crystal clear to the thinking person that this is an attempt to justify future incidents of these abusive tactics happening today (i.e. detention centers for children who have been forcefully stripped of their families) and those that lie in our collective future. Such behavior would indeed be strange if President Trump hadn't done the very same thing a year and a half ago.
In a February 2017 interview with Bill O'Reilly, Trump defended Putin's authoritarian tendencies by denigrating our own country: “There are a lot of killers. You think our country's so innocent?” This, of course, is not the only instance of Trump defending Putin or other corrupt rulers. This is a demonstrated pattern that would have easily landed President Obama in the the boiling cauldron of a congressional investigation, or the very least, President Romney.
Kim Jong Un systematically jails faithful Christians, attempting to reeducate them and prevent their message from being heard. In some cases, not a single word, religious or otherwise, is heard ever again from these captives. In North Korea, Dear Leader Kim and his deceased predecessors are Gods. Yet the evangelical base seems okay squaring the idea of supporting this administration with the fact that their tithes are sponsoring the same missionaries who fall victim to North Korea's religious suppression.
So what will become of this evangelical loyalty when their excuses for such behavior are depleted? Is there hope that some common sense and acknowledgment of the world and its complications will cause conservative American churches to stop singing Trump's praises?
Maybe the answer is in “two Corinthians” (as Donald Trump famously called the Biblical text during his 2016 speech at Liberty University):
“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4, NASB)
The words of the imprisoned apostle Paul seem to be falling on deaf ears. Or, to borrow a popular Biblical idiom, this is truly an example of the blind leading the blind.