Tag: liberty

Dear World, President Trump Is Not Us, Not Even Close

You read the papers, watch the news, see the tweets, and survey the online reporting—it’s all too easy to conclude that we have elected nothing less than insanity for our President, and we have become an insane people. For so long, an imperialistic arrogance has plagued the political and religious halls of our country. And now, gasoline has been poured upon the flames of our greed by the privileged power-hungry imposter of patriotism we call our President, scorching our entire nation, from sea to shining sea, with every perverted puff from the nostrils of this orange-haired dragon.

We don’t blame you for harboring serious disdain and concern for our country and its current leadership—in fact, we share it. Yet, it is our deepest hope that you will gaze beyond the political circus show that imprisons our nation and discover there are many of us who join in your disgust, tenfold. We are the resistance that is putting hand to plow in hopes of moving our country to become a nation of renewed decency, true freedom, cultural diversity, religious pluralism, social compassion, global humility, diplomatic maturity, and human equality. In fact, know this and know this for sure, Trump is not us, not even close—his character, values, attitudes, and loyalties are nothing like the marrow that fills our hearts and compels our souls.

Instead, we are a people who love creation and desire to protect our environment for generations to come, even to the curbing of economic prosperity. Our unwillingness to compromise the health of our planet for political and financial gain, we believe, is a critical value necessary for the future of all living things. Unfortunately, our President and his political allies are willing to rape our environment for personal, financial, and economic gain. To that end, he and his administration have censored climate change websites, downsized two national monuments for the purpose of oil and gas exploration, cut funding to climate and clean energy programs, and withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris Climate Change agreement. With an insatiable appetite for economic prosperity and a blatant disregard for scientific fact regarding the environmental demise of our planet, President Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who believe violence doesn’t solve problems nor create solutions, and the military-industrial complex of which President Eisenhower warned and President Kennedy resisted has now become a rampant driving force within our government and right-wing religious circles, resulting in the unnecessary brutal destruction of many through war, oppression, and injustice. We reject the public possession of assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons, and if necessary, allowing only for those firearms that require a separate human action to reload. We believe that the safety of our fellow human being, especially children, takes the highest priority over any political and financial allegiances to the NRA or such entities that profit from weapons or the idolization of their use. We declare with boldness and accuracy that our undeniable national gun problem cannot be solved with more guns, especially in the hands of school teachers. We recognize the importance of our Second Amendment rights, but understand James Madison’s intention to allow “the people” as a whole (a well-regulated state militia) to bear arms, not every individual. Unfortunately, our president and his political allies believe violence and its threat are the quickest and surest way to gain and protect power and privilege. To that end, he and his administration have approved a $400 billion budget that sharply increases military spending at the expense of the federal deficit and important programs that protect and serve our society, particularly the underprivileged and less fortunate. With a willingness and desire to cut or significantly reduce spending for the National Endowment for the Arts, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Housing and Urban Development, NASA, EPA, Meals on Wheels, SNAP,  USDA, Education, and Health and Human Services, Trump and his supporters show their depraved lack of human compassion for the most vulnerable among us and an addiction to power for the privileged. With a clear willingness to abandon human life for the sake of protecting and prospering white male right-wing domination, President Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who believe God created all of humanity equal in dignity, worth, and value as we fiercely reject all forms of racism, discrimination, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and every type of inherent demonization. Our country has long been purposed on being a sanctuary of refuge for the refugee, opportunity for the immigrant, and equal hope and dignity for the minority and the most vulnerable among us. To that end, we believe in meaningful protection from those who would enter our country for the purpose of inflicting harm. Yet, we also refuse to conclude that our desire for safety prevents nor restricts us from affording human compassion, patience, appropriate leniency, and a realistic and accessible pathway to citizenship for any and all of those who desire to call our country home. We believe that the complexity of immigration and its surrounding issues should lead, not to the creation of bigger walls and callous systems, but to the rise of a greater people whose hearts are convinced that a country that does not joyfully, graciously, and passionately extend its freedoms to all is not a free country after all. For the protection of privilege is the enemy of true liberty. Thus, we vehemently oppose the discrimination of any people group based on skin color, nationality, gender identification, social economic status, or sexual orientation. We are a country purposed on the life, liberty, and equality of all people, not just white, male, heterosexual, right-wing conservative Christians. Sadly, our President and his political and religious allies now seek to curtail the sounds of true freedom and equality from being heard and realized by those who would threaten their power and privilege. To that end, he has labeled black people as being lazy, quick to commit crimes, and unpatriotic while referring to those friendly to white supremacy as being “fine people”—all while enjoying the endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan. He has referred to Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists,” called for a complete shutdown of Muslims from entering the United States, and claimed that 15,000 immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS” and that 40,000 Nigerians, once seeing the United States, would never “go back to their huts” in Africa. Trump once referred to a Hispanic Miss Universe as “Miss Housekeeping” and mocked Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas.” He has frozen a series of LGBTQ-friendly healthcare rules, tried to reinstate a ban on transgender people in the military, argued that anti-gay discrimination is legal, and nominated multiple candidates to the courts and other public offices who have anti-LGBTQ records. With a long and continued record of racism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia that clearly displays his desire to protect and prosper white, male, heterosexual power and privilege seemingly at any cost, President Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who believe that all religions are to be extended equal rights and protections. Regardless of ones faith, we believe no religion should be granted preference in the public square or afforded special privileges. By constitutional design, we are not a Christian nation nor do we have a state religion—period, full stop. Accordingly, with great enthusiasm and vigor, we fundamentally value, respect, and appreciate people of all religions and defend their rights to exercise their faith peacefully and to be given equal status and treatment alongside all others. Yet, conservative Evangelical Christianity has long been striving to prosper a right-wing, male, heterosexual, white-privileged, conservative brand of Christianity and to attain its dominance in all of society, even to the exclusion, discrimination, demonization, and marginalization of other religions. With a willingness to spiritually justify sin, hypocrisy, duplicity, greed, racism, bullying, violence, war, and discrimination, conservative Evangelicalism sees President Trump as an irresistible pathway to the nationalization of their religion of white power and privilege. To that end, President Trump has enthusiastically opened his presidency and his policies to the influence and partnership of right-wing conservative Evangelical Christianity. Sadly, to the privileged, the emergence of true equality always feels like war. Thus, Trump and his side-chick of conservative Evangelical Christianity have bit the apple of spiritual and political greed in hopes of subduing the greatest threat to their elitism and imperialism—true equality for all. With an overwhelming lust for dominance in all things and a diabolical partnership with the evils of conservative Evangelicalism in order to spiritually justify it, Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who strongly believe that women are equal to men and therefore should be granted the same rights, opportunities, dignity, and rewards—especially where men have enjoyed unfair advantage, double-standards, and preferential treatment. We believe women are not lesser vessels, inferior human beings, sexual objects created to serve the pleasure of men, nor designed to take a submissive role in any arena of life—especially at home, in society, or at the work place. Rather, women are fully capable human beings equally empowered by the divine. Unfortunately, President Trump has long exploited and abused women for personal gratification and gain. He has suggested that sexual assault in the military is simply what happens when men and women work together, stated women are inherently manipulative, credited women’s professional success to their looks, declared that childrearing is women’s work, told a woman she was disgusting for pumping breast milk, referred to a woman as a “piece of ass,” and bragged about grabbing women’s pussies. With a disgusting unapologetically sexist, predatory, demeaning, discriminating, and exploitive view of women, Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who firmly believe that those with special needs represent nothing less than the beauty and divine diversity of creation. In fact, we hold that all people have limitations and inabilities of various kinds, some are just more apparent than others. Therefore, we abhor any sentiments that ridicule, belittle, or devalue people with disabilities, and commit ourselves to stand in solidarity. Sadly, President Trump has publicly mocked people with special needs, exhibiting a pubescent callousness becoming of none other than the devil himself. In fact, he and his political allies are proposing legislation that will dismantle the Americans with Disabilities Act, leaving people with disabilities gravely exposed while making those who violate the ADA virtually consequence-free. With a brutishness towards human diversity and a blatant disregard for those with disabilities, President Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who believe economic prosperity and its benefits should not be limited to the privileged nor should our societal systems create a playing field that fast-tracks the elite and stymies the rest towards receiving the equal blessings of good fortune, hard work, and financial well-being. We aggressively refuse to settle for a hypocritical economic system that postures a greedy socialism for the top and a callous capitalism for the bottom. Unfortunately, president Trump and his allies will seemingly stop at nothing to stack the deck towards the financial benefit of white male privilege. To that end, Trump has created an economic advisory team that is devoid of women, minorities, working people, and the middle class. It is indeed, a “suicide squad” for the prospering of an elitist economy with dark money infiltrating our government and politics like never before. With an unprecedented level of financial greed and arrogance, and a willingness to spend more taxpayer money in one month on personal trips than former President Obama did in one year, President Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who believe that truthfulness and moral integrity are foundational for leadership, especially when endorsed by the religious. Though no person is perfect or devoid of flaws in character, we believe a humble repenting spirit is required for leadership that is characterized by trust, noble influence, and divine authentication. In that way, America has long valued presidential leadership that is, at the very least, marked by basic decency, relational maturity, and human respect. To that end, we vehemently stand against any justification, especially spiritual, that turns a blind eye towards leadership characterized by infidelity, deception, avarice, immorality, discrimination, bullying, dishonesty, and illegal pursuits—no matter how politically or financially advantageous it may be to do so. Sadly, Trump and his political and religious allies are largely devoid of nobility, moral and spiritual integrity, human decency, and the hallmarks of true leadership. Instead, their seemingly insatiable appetites for power and privilege have created a narcissistic political climate nothing shy of the lawless, nefarious, and greedy culture of the Wild West where virtually anything goes and anything can be said that benefits their agenda. The sheer frequency, spontaneity, and arrogance of our President’s lies have no precedent in American politics. In fact, with Trump, the Father of Lies has met his match as our entire country has been waterboarded by the constant flood of his falsehoods and a supporting religious right who have lost their capacity for moral discernment. So much, that they will quickly gas-light the crap out of those who would expose their evils. With an unapologetic willingness to engage in numerous acts of marital unfaithfulness, bully his disagreers, lie to the American people, and leverage every opportunity to enflame his narcissism, even to dire expense of our nation, Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who love creation, reject violence, and value true human equality.

We are a people who uphold religious pluralism, see women as equal, and defend the vulnerable.

We are a people that joyfully extend liberty to all, denounce personal, religious, and national greed, and abhor corrupt arrogant carnal narcissistic leadership.

Dear world, this is the America we believe in, this is the people we are.

President Trump is not us, not even close.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Trump : What You Get In A Nation Bewitched By The False Evangelical Gospel

I’m not sure if presidential candidate, Donald Trump believes in Jesus or any version of the Gospel. Yet, I do know, much of his fan base subscribes to the Evangelical tenets of faith. If they didn’t, their inner alarms would be bellowing and their conscience sweating at the blaring reality that is, Donald Trump. Instead, countless Evangelical creed holders are resonating with euphoric praise.

Let’s just throw out a few adjectives and see if they stick. Bigot, racist, misogynist, xenophobe, sexist—not to mention, rude, arrogant, greedy, and inhumane—stick, stick, stick. These aren’t misguided, presumptuous labels, these are real-deal realities, right from the Donald’s lips.

“You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of ass.”
“All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.”
“The beauty of me is that I’m very rich.”
“I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
“The point is, you can never be too greedy.”
“I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, but I am a traditionalist.”
“I’m not sure I have ever asked God’s forgiveness. I don’t bring God into that picture….When I go to church and when I drink my little wine and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of forgiveness.”
“The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families.”
“The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yamakas every day.”
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
“Did you read about Starbucks? No more ‘Merry Christmas’ at Starbucks. No more. Maybe we should boycott Starbucks.”
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they’re telling us what we’re getting.”
“Show me someone without an ego, and I’ll show you a loser.”
“My motto is: Always get even. When somebody screws you, screw them back in spades.”
.

Everyone deserves a fair shake, but somewhere along the way, you have to put two eyeballs on what’s in front of you. The truth is, Donald Trump and his political phenomenon are a product of the false Evangelical gospel. The family secrets of American, fundamentalist Christianity are increasingly becoming exposed. In Donald Trump, we have a megaphone of what their Gospel looks like in human, political form.

In Donald Trump, we see a clear manifestation of the Evangelical gospel of prosperity. In the mind of much of modern Christianity, the cause of Christ is to make one “great” in concert with your individual pursuit to do “great things” for Jesus. The slogan of their adorned training ground, Liberty University, “making champions for Christ.” As an Evangelical Christian, you are “set apart,” which subtly translates, “superior to all others.” Just attend a typical contemporary, Evangelical worship service along with their mega-pastor and state of the art facility. Your eyes will be confronted with an Evangelical Christianity that has become mesmerized by fame, fortune, and power—this, their foundational understanding of what it looks like to be “blessed.” Hook them, addict them to the endless, spiritual quest that with Jesus at your side, you can become “great again,” the very best, over all the rest. Two story houses, a dog named “spot,” and satellite tv in every room. Little pink houses for you and me; not to mention, a name-engraved Bible positioned on every coffee table for all eyes to see.  Evangelical faith finds its fruition in personal and material prosperity. This is the American, self-improvement Gospel, branded for your consuming pleasure by all things Evangelical. The Jesus of the cross—washing feet, serving enemies, lifting those who have been brought low, is no where to be found. Just ask the black community, transgenders, and homosexuals.

In Donald Trump, we are confronted with the evangelical Gospel of God-sanctioned war and violence.  With eyes on a literal, one-sided, rookie reading of the Old Testament, believing God decreed it, Evangelicals give little pause to the idea of using violence and war to further their values and religion. It’s part of the process, a little collateral damage here and there, “all for the greater good” they sing in unified, Hitler-like choruses. Evil needs to be destroyed, and all that they deem to be an enemy, is surely evil simply by them saying so. Block it, box it, wall it all off. Who knows better the battles our militaristic God would have us fight? We are Christians soldiers, onward we will go—claiming territory for Jesus, with assimilation as our goal. Join us, or be conjoined to one of our Patriot missiles. All, while hiding the true conspiracy of the 21st century, that underneath their spiritual veil and all their spiritual wizardry, is really just an insatiable greed for wealth and control.

In Donald Trump, the Evangelical gospel of sexism, white privilege, and male superiority find new heights of fruition. I mean really, didn’t you know that Jesus was a paper-white man, with Paul Mitchell, glossy-brown locks of flowing hair? Men belong up here, and women, a bit lower down there—cooking, cleaning, ironing their “9 to 5” man’s clothes. Their so damn emotional, those rib-birthed helpmates, why can’t they just shut-up and be satisfied with simply being a “penis home.” Besides, that’s the way God set it up, put it into complementarian order. Women are just a means to an end— puppets for male pleasure and control.

The white man, dominate and pure, God’s preferred way to move and breathe in our multicultural world. Surely, we have the inside scoop, we’ve cracked the divinity code to all things God, Jesus, and spiritual truth. Whatever line we have to sign or candidate we have to support, in order to keep our guns, camouflage-Jesus, and societal leverage—we’ll look the other away and bury our heads, if that’s what it takes to do so.

In Donald Trump, the Evangelical gospel of Biblical inerrancy rises to its idolatry. You can’t control people, bully your way, when spiritual assertions are really errantly “grey”—open for debate, mystery, and uncertainty. So emerges, the Evangelical addiction to inerrancy, the drug of choice for lazy, spoon-fed Christians seeking to justify their self-righteousness and bigotry. A scripture here, and church service there, name-drop “Jesus” a bit, we’ll lift you onto the mantle of “Christian leadership.” You’re one of us, as long as your proof-texting to form our mold, to claim Jesus as the spokesmodel for the “right”—the Bible is so easy, so back and white.   To think, feel, and consider outside the box, independent thoughts from what is orthodox—heretics, God-haters, false prophets, all of them. For the Bible, perfect and without error, is God’s roadmap to the American-Jesus life, and a nation above all others.  Who are you to question the American dream, it’s all so spiritual, and God delivered. Mexicans (the new Jews) not included.

In Donald Trump, the Evangelical gospel of faith-justified hate and discrimination finds its wings and weaponization. It’s all so convenient, what could be arguable with a spiritual mandate for hate and discrimination? The clear teachings of the Bible, generations of family values and tradition, it’s all so bullet proof, if only it could be legislated. Homosexuals are abominations, transgenders; deserving of death, women; second class citizens, and minorities; just another inconvenience we have to put up with. If something isn’t done with all these lessor, pungent souls, we’ll all be looking down the barrel of God’s punishment as He removes His hand of blessing and favor upon America, the Jesus-sanctioned nation—”making disciples of people just like us since 1776.”

Donald Trump is the cunning kid in the sandbox our parents warned us about and for which psychiatrist calibrate their tests, and Evangelical Christianity, the steroid that is feeding his barbaric, disproportionate, pathological growth. Blinded to the reality that this guy is eating every alphabet letter in God’s seven-deadly-sins soup. Look away, there’s nothing to see here, it’s all a part of divine prophecy.

Never give a narcissistic, ego-driven child the keys to the family station wagon, let alone, an entire nation. Let’s just say, it won’t be good. Just ask Nazi Germany.

Bewitched by the Evangelical drug of “make it great for Jesus” and “be all you can be,” we are so addicted to our own spiritual arrogance, supremacy, and self-righteousness, we don’t care who deals it to us, as long as we get another fix.

What you call, “telling like it is” is the allure that lipstick brings when underneath it’s disguising a pig.

There is only one job on planet earth where, during the interview process, you can vomit this level of vitriol and still be a candidate—the job of American, Evangelical-elected president.

If it walks like a Donald, it probably is a Donald.

You know your Gospel is false, when these are the lengths you will go to and Donald Trump, the person to which you will tip your hat, in order to keep it alive.

One thing you can know for sure, the Donald ain’t no Jesus, and Evangelical Christianity is no Gospel.

Competitive Christianity

This past week I heard for the first time the phrase, “competitive parenting.”  It’s the title given to the trend in our culture to turn parenting into a competition. From how many activities children are in, to the schools they attend, friends they befriend, clothes they wear, and on and on.  You probably know that parent whose Facebook page is a shrine to the pursuit of creating the image that they have the perfect life, children, and family.  With almost every post and picture, you have to hold yourself back from replying something like “gag me with a multi-colored pitchfork.”

I remember when I was young boy, I had a deep love and passion for music and playing the piano. Truly, in my younger years, music saved my life and certainly my sanity. I also remember the pressures that came with piano competitions. Who invented that crap? What a diabolical way to destroy the joy of music… make it into a competition.

For sometime, I have grown in my distaste for much of modern Christianity, particularly most portions of the Evangelical movement. In instances, I have searched for the words to articulate what it is that so taunts my spiritual gag reflexes. I have come to believe it’s that we have turned so much of it into, dare I say, a competition.

Competitions all have certain things in common; a score that is kept, a method of judgement and observation, a performance that is performed, a system of earned rewards, and the potential for some level of fame and fortune. Winners and losers, people on the team, people who aren’t. Welcome to modern Christianity. Better said.. competitive Christianity.

I have been a pastor for 20 years this month. I can tell you straight up, most every pastor (probably more like every) has, at some time or another, bought into the elixir of competitive Christianity in the form of church growth, discipleship, and becoming a celebrity pastor. Oh yes, we have made our inner intentions seem so spiritual with declarations of Jabez prayers, “building the kingdom,” “excellence in ministry”and making “fully devoted followers of Jesus.” Blah, blah, blah. These new generations see through that crap, even though we often don’t see through it ourselves. Oh, how we have come to enjoy the smell of our own spiritual flatulence.  Self promotions, book tours, declarations of how many scores of people that get saved after our preaching, and castings of great visions are so often a spiritual vale to the core impulse of self-righteousness made manifest by attempting to post a winning score. It’s a competition. Build the best church brand, pimp out the latest methods, construct more buildings, grow your ministry bigger and better than the guy’s down the street, and be all you can be for Jesus. Pastors, maybe more than anyone, have been tractor-beamed into keeping a score, performing a performance, and hoping they can post a score that judges them “successful” by the observers and maybe even a bit famous among their peers. What could be wrong with wanting more people, more people getting saved, more and better buildings, more books, more and better programs? One word… “everything.”

No wonder we have tons of Christians that are deeply into “Competitive Christianity”  No, we would never call it that. Heavens no. But it’s true. Forget what we have done with “Church,” just look at the slogan of the leading Evangelical college in America, Liberty University. What’s their slogan… “training champions for Christ.”  No offense Liberty fans, but seriously, for real?

Training, building, making… really?

Last time I checked, nobody builds people but Jesus, nobody can take any credit for that but Jesus, and the truth is, Christ has already made every person a champion, there is no building to do, just believing in the people-building Jesus has already accomplished!

Problem is, there is no competition to be had when Jesus has already completed it all, and is the One who completes it all.

I hear you already, “but what about ‘making disciples'” “That’s the call of Jesus upon our life!”

Yes, it is one aspect of our calling, but “making disciples” is far from “us” making anything! Rather it’s about declaring what Jesus has already made (completed), that people might awaken to the person and life God has already accomplished and placed within them. He is the author and perfector of faith. We are already complete in Him.

Oh snap, I hate it when the Bible gets in the way of our performance-driven, competitive Christian life. Where’s the applause, where’s the performance, where’s the scoreboard post, where’s the doing, where’s the partial or implied credit, where’s the fortune, where’s the conference-speaker mugshot, where’s the self-justification in all of that for me? It’s not, it’s in Jesus. Sorry, not a college, not a pastor, not a brand, not a concert tour, not a building, not a ministry, not a vision, not a book, not even a slick, modern, acoustically and stylistically brilliant worship set. There are no notches to be had on our belt, just nails in His hands and feet.

But we don’t like that, it’s stripped of competition, it renders our performance unrendering, it puts us all on the same playing field; no one famous but Jesus, all equally in need of Grace, no one better, no one further along, no ministry better, no scoreboard, no credit.

Oh my, what if what we always thought was a kind of competition is really a completion?  Already complete in Jesus, Jesus carrying into completion the good work He has begun in us.

Perhaps the trendy evangelical cries of “don’t waste your life,” “get radical,” and “be all in for Jesus” have resulted in us ironically completely missing the life He truly has for us as we have become radically off the mark and outside the way of Jesus, all because what we thought (and even hoped) to be a kind of competition for us to post a score, is really a completion from a victory He has already won.

© 2018 Chris Kratzer

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