Finally, a big burden had been lifted from our shoulders! Christianity Today (CT) magazine declared that Donald Trump, who got elected by most white evangelicals, “should be removed from office.” As evangelical Christians working side-by-side in doing justice and peace advocacies with Muslims, Indigenous Peoples, Mainline Protestants, Catholics, and non religious people, we have been embarrassed by the actions of American evangelicals who have been blindly supporting Trump.
Sometime ago, I posted a blog as a reaction to some American evangelical acquaintances trying to use our platform to support Trump. I’ll quote here what I said then:
Their view of Donald Trump as one who is God’s anointed to restore a Christian America against Muslims and other non-Christian nationalities is a problem to me and my understanding of the Gospel. But then I soon realized that their individual bigotry actually reflect a wider perspective of a segment of American Christian population.
The fact that they see immigrants as a threat to America saddens me. Again, it did not surprise me that my friends’ anti-immigrant view is widespread. Evangelicals of color, according to a report, feel homeless in Trump’s America. Many non-white evangelicals are quietly leaving white evangelical churches.
In that blog, I also tried to ‘redeem’ the term evangelical and refused the white, bigot Americans to hijack it.
Joji and I are international partnership workers sent by Mennonite Church Canada and have been seconded to the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC). Here in the Philippines, we are evangelicals. From the perspective of the peace networks here in Mindanao and the whole country, we are evangelicals. Because we were the ones who introduced PCEC to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), we’re known among the Muslim communities as evangelicals. I serve as peace consultant to The Rev. Dr. Efraim Tendero, secretary general at World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), and occasionally accompany him in a number of global peace conferences mostly held in the Arab world. From the point-of-view of those Muslim countries, I am an evangelical.
We were so surprised, a very pleasant surprise, when we read CT’s reason for their op-ed: “But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.“
Here in the Philippines, human rights advocates like us have our reason for praying that Trump should be removed from office. Trump’s support to the Philippines’ war on drugs gives the appearance of legitimacy of the death of more than 20,000 people, mostly the poorest of the poor. We, advocates of justice and human rights, experience this as a long nightmare. I resonate with one of our national papers when they described the implication of this support: “Trump congratulating Duterte for doing a good job in handling the Philippines’ struggle against the illegal drug trade came amid allegations of massive human rights violations that included summary killings of suspects, warrantless arrests and killings of people based on so-called drug watchlists that are not backed by evidence.” For those of us who went through the horrors of Marcos’ martial law with the support of Ronald Reagan, the traumatic experiences are coming back under the Trump-Duterte tandem.
CT’s call to remove Trump from office is an answered prayer for us: “Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election—that is a matter of prudential judgment. That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.“
I feel I can openly identify with the evangelicals again. I like how Chris Thurman of Christian Post magazine wrote it: “The word ‘evangelical’ used to be a term of honor, referring to a person who brought the ‘good news’ of Christ to a fallen world, cared about living out biblical values, and devoted to serving God here on earth. Sadly, it now refers to someone who excuses the inexcusable, believes the ends justify the means, feels entitled to getting what they want, believes in their own moral superiority, exploits others to achieve their goals, and lacks empathy for how their actions negatively impact others. There are more than a few of us who are no longer willing to use the term evangelical to describe ourselves because of what Christian supporters of Trump have done to denigrate it.“
Praise God for the courage of Mark Galli and CT. I believe God is using them to liberate the term evangelical from the bigotry of white American extreme right wing conservatives.
Kudos to Christianity Today!
‘Face the Nation’ interviews Mark Galli, CT Editor