The following post, written by The Rev. Robert A. Franek, is a part of Politicus Policy Discussion, in which writers draw connections between real lives and public policy.
In a “Moral Moment” segment on AM JOY the Rev. Dr. William Barber exposed the public heresy of so-called “Value Voters” who value “cash and not Christ” and “greed and not grace”. “We cannot continue to call these things Christian,” Barber implored.
Dr. Barber made explicitly clear what most who have even a cursory understanding of Christianity already know when it comes to the values that are central to the biblical message for nations and political leaders. Barber said:
From Jeremiah 22 to Jesus and Matthew 25 Christian values for nations and political leaders has to do with love and justice, equality, stopping the exploitation of the vulnerable, caring for the poor, caring for children, welcoming immigrants, helping the sick and loving all.
Dr. Barber explained that the so-called values summit is not about Christianity but the values of a heretical extremism funded by a whole lot of money perpetuating a fraud on the American people. Their values are cash and not Christ, greed and not grace.
Donald Trump who is the first sitting president to address the Values Voters Summit, spoke of things that are anathema to Christian values. That he addressed this group at all is shocking because one of the sponsors of this summit is the Family Research Council which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for their views on homosexuality. It doesn’t seem to be a regular practice for sitting presidents to be making speeches before hate groups and endorsing their agenda, but then this is Donald Trump, not our typical president.
As Barber explains Trump boasted of taking health care away from people. That’s not Christian. He boasted of taking subsidies away from poor people. That’s not Christian. And he boasted of saying “Merry Christmas” again while pushing policies that would hurt the Mary, Joseph, and Jesus of Christmas who were poor.
It is terrible enough that our sitting president is addressing a summit that is sponsored by a hate group and is spouting off policies that are nothing less than atrocities. He went on to promote arrogance and warmongering, which are clearly not Christian values. It is beyond disturbing then that the leaders at this so-called values summit applauded the very policies that are going to hurt their members. These so-called Christian leaders cheered for things that are anathema to the gospel. Barber is right for saying, “It is high time we call this out.”
Dr. Barber named the truth that these are not Christian values but the values of an extreme corporate oligarchy that is trying to use the values and claims of faith as a way to gain power.
It is not only in the statements made attacking gay people and Muslims, Barber noted, that is not Christian, but also their silence on health care, silence on racism, silence on voter suppression, silence on living wages, silence on public education, silence on the fundamental values of Christianity.
Dr. Barber declared again the fundamental truth that this is a public heresy that must be challenged.
Watch an excerpt of the Rev. Dr. Barber’s Moral Moment here:
— AM Joy w/Joy Reid (@amjoyshow) October 14, 2017
This twisting of the faith for greed and power and the promotion of public policies that are fundamentally in opposition to Christian values may explain in part the decline in recent decades of participation in Christian worship and community.
For too long this public heresy has been allowed to persist and prosper in our culture as a defining element of Christianity. Too often this is the only referent many people have to the faith and are instantly turned off by the incongruence between the values in scripture and the values being applauded by leaders and pushed for in public policies in Congress.
Christians need to challenge this public heresy and continue to lift up the values that are central to the biblical witness and thus to a neighbor-love ethic: love, justice, equality, caring for the poor and sick, welcoming the stranger, and ending the exploitation of the vulnerable.
These so-called “values voters” who cheer for atrocities have dominated the public square for too long. It is not only essential to call them out, but to speak up when and where they fall silent, especially now on matters of racism, sexism and misogyny, voter suppression, living wages, and ecological justice and climate change.
In the era of Trump, Christians cannot afford to be silent. Faith demands action in the public square working for public policies that promote justice and peace for all people in all the earth.