In America Christianity has become increasingly associated with the Republican Party.
John Pavlovitz is a Christian pastor, an author and activist known for his social and political writings. His popular blog Stuff That Needs to be Said is read by millions. He has two books out one bearing the same name as his blog, and is a collection of some of his most widely read and beloved essays on faith, politics and greed. His second book, A Bigger Table was recently re-released. We're so happy today to be welcoming John to the show, and having an opportunity to sit down with him during this really crazy period that we find ourselves in.
America the Malevolent
America is living through a period that generates almost continual pain and grief. It’s a product of the malevolence, at the highest levels of our government. It’s exacerbating people's pain by continually manufacturing emergency after emergency. It’s perpetual. We don't know what we're going to deal with every time we get up in the morning. We never have time to sit with anything long enough to really grieve it.
We're in a place where many people feel like they are suffocating right now. The information that we're getting daily if incredibly distressing. We need to pull away and get some silence and solitude and rest. But if the opposite is true, if isolation and loneliness seems to be what's causing our anxiety. Community is medicinal. We need to seek out other people who are asking the same questions carrying similar burdens, and holding similar outrage. Those are the things that really help sustain us in these times.
Fighting the Theocracy
John never spoke about politics or individual politicians before 2016. But the Christian right, and Donald Trump have aligned to create a theocracy that is built on a religion of fear. Donald Trump has leveraged all the fears and prejudices that are the worst of religion. He has capitalized on people who have raised been raised with a God who is white, cisgender, heterosexual, American Christian, and votes Republican. He's fooled people into creating a disconnect between their religion and the Jesus of the Bible.
Understanding Toxic Christianity
People have been raised for decades in a really toxic Christianity. They can't even understand that the character of a loving God is an embracing idea. This isolationism of Donald Trump and this separation that he feeds into, it's really bears no resemblance to Jesus. In fact, Christians need to understand that the biblical Jesus who was not white and not republican and not Christian, would really be threatened in this America. And we, especially as a white Christians, we have to understand that every minute and realize that that's who we're speaking for. The “least of these” that Jesus teaches about has nothing in common with the Republican cruelty that we're seeing.
Pro-life means being for humanity. If we ask if Donald Trump and his policies are “for humanity”, the answer is categorically “no”. He takes away health care during a pandemic, that is not for humanity. Separating childre from their parents is not for humanity. People who are moderates and progressives need to continually lift up the idea of a consistent pro-life ethic and continually point to the fraudulence of Trump Christians who seem to embrace the idea of the fetus, but anything beyond the birth canal is irrelevant to them.
Donald Trump represents the most damaged version of humanity. But because he is the president people are now aspiring to that. We really have to be people who look for people who are hurting, and try to figure out how to reach them. As a Christian, that compassion is the sole marker of a believer. Do you care about other people? The fact that Trump is incapable of doing that says something about him. But the fact that someone would embrace him says a lot about them as well.