Right-wing evangelical Christians in the UK and US have just delivered some of the greatest blows to peace, justice and fairness in the Western world since the end of the World War II. What are the rest of us supposed to do?
You don’t need me to list the litany of horror already emerging from the US, as Trump honours every one of his campaign pledges. With Trump, as with David Cameron and the referendum, there are some election pledges you so wish had been left unfulfilled.
On pretty much the single issue of abortion, the overwhelming majority of US evangelicals overlooked sexual assault, adultery, Islamophobia, racism, misogyny, lies, hatred, populist rhetoric, probably corruption, the risk of war, social division, and damage to the weak (not to mention unhealthy ties with Putin and the likely damage to the UN, EU and NATO). They’re not disowning Trump yet and possibly never will.
Is this what Jesus meant by straining a gnat and swallowing a camel?
It’s ludicrously at odds with the theology of the Gospels. Evangelicals would do well to live for a year reading only the Gospels, and seeing which bits of their world view survive. Jesus would be turning in his grave, if he had one. The actions being carried out in his name are a million miles from his words and his example.
In the UK meanwhile, some evangelical Christians also formed a plank of the rickety Brexit shack, led astray by dodgy theology which named Brussels as a modern-day Babylon.
So where does this leave us, other members of the Christian Church, practising Christians who are watching in grief and horror as the world heads deeper into hatred, and possibly even into war?
Can we repent on behalf of one another?
Do we own or disown each other when faced with the catastrophic cruelty of policies unfolding in the US?
Is our silence complicity?
The theologians can have their say. Collective repentance may or may not have spiritual value, but I know Christians have previously repented over other shameful periods in history, like the Crusades and the silence of parts of the Church in World War II.
But we can’t weep over the actions of our fellow Christians without looking at our own issues. They’re tough. Do we hunger for gadgets more than righteousness? Have we outsourced our poverty to where we can’t see it so it doesn’t trouble our consciences? Do we worry more about the price than the cost?
Have we reduced the mighty, humble Christ of the gospels (yes he was both) to a sort of Jesus-lite, a lifestyle add-on, or a panic button to be pressed in times of crisis? Do we feel poor despite having lived through an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity?
Each of us, in the closed-door privacy of our own prayer lives, can be asking God for our right response. Do we weep, pray, campaign, make disciples? All of the above?
Let’s at least ask the question.