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.
It doesn’t matter what the issue is. Right-wing Christians have been placing the priorities of the party before the tenants of the faith for decades. However, now they are reaching ever new extremes, emboldened by Donald Trump’s presidency and Republican control of Congress.
Despite all the scriptures that witness to the importance of healing the sick, right-wing Christians have supported a disastrous healthcare bill that would have left tens of millions without health insurance while forcing all the rest to pay more for less coverage.
Despite all the scriptures that demand that foreigners be treated with loving-kindness, right-wing Christians have rallied behind racist and bigoted travel bans and demands to build a completely senseless wall on the southern border of our country. At the same time, they have supported ICE raids and the rescinding of the DACA program leading to families being needlessly torn apart.
Despite all the scriptures that mandate social and economic justice, especially for the least of these, right-wing Christians are rallying behind a tax scam that will result in the largest transfer of wealth (about two trillion dollars) from the poor and middle-class to the wealthiest individuals and corporations in the country.
Despite all the scriptures that proclaim living in a place of peace and safety, right-wing Christians fail to take common sense actions on gun control and instead are satisfied when Congress offers their sincerest thoughts and prayers punctuated by evermore frequent moments of silence, white the body count continues to rise.
Despite all the scriptures that commend care for the earth and all its creatures, right-wing Christians have had no problem with the Trump administration decimating the Environmental Protection Agency or supporting dangerous oil pipelines traversing Native sacred lands and going through multiple fresh water aquifers. Even more dangerous is their rejection of climate change and the failure to embrace green energy to help curb global warming.
Despite all the scriptures that decry sexual assault and the degrading of persons to things, right-wing Christians helped send admitted sexual assaulter Donald Trump to the Oval Office and now are standing with child molester Roy Moore in his bid for the United States Senate. Most stunning is the fact that Moore supporters are sticking with him even though they acknowledge the credibility of the women who have made the allegations of sexual assault against him. One right-wing pastor even made the absurd claim that since Jesus was the only perfect person to walk the earth, it is just fine to send a person with a history of predatory behavior to the U.S. Senate because they will “vote right.” So now not only is the candidate unfit for public office, but is being supported in hopes of voting for bills that can’t pass a basic morality smell test. Recall Senator Chuck Schumer said the Republican tax bill stinks like a dead fish.
In all of these cases the votes for policies along the lines of party ideology have superseded what should be universal moral imperatives that transcend partisan divides. These are not issues of right and left, but rather right and wrong. The moral imperative of compassion for the hungry and sick, the victim and the vulnerable, the foreigner and the frail must have primacy of over party platform.
In Christians terms the neighbor can be an individual person, a collective group of people, or even the collective planetary eco-systems that make life on earth possible.
From the beginning of creation God entrusted creation-care to humankind with the imperative to steward it. From the laws of ancient Israel and the call of the prophets to “let justice roll down like waters and righteousness an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5.24) to Jesus’ teaching to the disciples and ministry among and for the outcast and oppressed, the common thread is compassion for the neighbor, especially the vulnerable ones.
While Christians will come to different conclusions regarding public policy matters based on their own biblical interpretation, theological tradition, and personal experiences and beliefs, it is manifestly clear that policies which are only designed to benefit the top one percent in the country are not in line with Christian teachings or values. It is also patently clear that prejudice and predatory behavior do not embody a love of neighbor ethic. Further any policy or behavior that demeans and devalues the dignity inherent in each person goes against the belief that all people are created in the image of God.
It is most tragic that this form of twisted Christianity, a heresy really, takes up so much of the conversation in the media and the public square. It harms the Christian witness and turns many away from the faith. It is a shame there are not more authentic Christian voices in the media and the public square to bear witness to the truth of the scriptures and the Christian theological tradition in all its richness in offering guidance through the complex issues facing our world today.