Politics and Faith

The Universal Church has a number of forum posts on the proper role of professional ministry in polities. The latest dialog began this week. Here is my response:

Spirituality is the negotiation of the boundaries between the “I” and the “we.” Culturally we have two manifestations of that process. Religion attempts to merge us back into the Unconditional Love from which we emanated. Politics seeks union under conventions promulgated by human law.

It may not seem that those two things are contradictory, but they are. Unconditional Love is permissive – it does not pass judgment (“God sends his rain to fall on the good and evil alike.”), reserving its agency to healing those wounded by evil. Law is repressive – it defines what is allowed, and deploys agents to prevent and punish transgressions.

The proper role of religious authority in politics is then as follows: When asked for a political opinion, ask: “What wrongdoing motivated this policy? How can we heal those so wronged? If that healing is accomplished, do we still need this policy?”

It should be noticed that in excluding politics, people of faith can testify without ambiguity that it was the inspiration of Divine Authority that allowed them to achieve their goals.

I note that the most impressive confrontations in the Bible are with people of faith before political leaders. Moses, Elijah, Daniel, and Jesus and the Apostles themselves are all inspiration examples. In our day examples include Gandhi and MLK Jr.

Ponzi Crime Spree

Watching Trump and his legal team (led by William Barr) go about their business, I can’t figure out the end game. They are trying to run out the statue of limitations on tax and insurance fraud by committing obstruction of justice and ignoring Congressional subpoenas? It’s crimes piled on crimes, sucking in more and more people every day, like some kind of Ponzi scheme in reverse.

What do the Russians have on Trump? On Barr? On the Republican Party? Why are people lining up to go to jail?

Papa Bear is not a Bridge Player

The conservative media is playing up the notion that “No Trump” means that the Mueller investigation was a witch hunt.

The fact is that collusion with Russia has been proven in the Trump campaign – people have pled guilty and gone to jail for it.

Papa Bear picked those people to run his campaign. Even if he wasn’t guilty of collusion himself, he acted consciously to prevent the investigation from proceeding. He admitted on national TV that he fired James Comey because the Russia investigation was a “made-up thing.” That has been disproven.

Whether he is guilty of obstruction is unclear – he can always claim that he was simply acting based upon information provided by others. But you would have to be pretty clueless to believe that Trump didn’t knowingly hire a whole team of people that colluded with Russia, all while pursing a major and highly lucrative real-estate deal with Moscow, all while hiding tax returns that will show proof of collaboration in Russian money-laundering.

William Barr’s first act as Attorney General was to force the Mueller investigation to a close, and then give the President a clean bill of health. The Trump team and conservative media are on a full-court press, following Karl Rove’s dictum that “a lie told often enough eventually becomes the truth.”

And I recall the words of Revelation 13:

Who is like the beast? Who can stand up to him?

Woe unto you, America! This is no accident – this is a (P)Resident Evil.

Deviangelicals?

Evangelicals voted for Trump with the narrow goal of the repeal of Roe v. Wade. Their position is absolutist in this regard: since we cannot know when the soul enters the womb, they insist that every fetus is an unborn child, and thus that termination of any pregnancy is murder. This absolutist position authorizes them control over a woman’s body. Rape, incest and threat to the mother’s life are rejected as justifications for medical termination of a pregnancy. Even birth control is seen as an usurpation of God’s authority to decide when life is brought into the world.

Naturally, as did the slaves before them, women desire autonomy. So they fought for the right to family planning services, a fight that reached its culmination in the Roe v. Wade decision. Having attained autonomy over their bodies, they waged a determined fight to guard their right.

Against that resistance, for forty years the evangelicals have waged a war (sometimes literally) to overturn Roe v. Wade. Joining forces with the Republican Party, they became a powerful engine for fund-raising.

So they voted for a man who famously treated his romantic conquests as pieces of meat – because he promised to nominate judges that would revoke the right to abortion services.

What saddens is to hear them now characterize allegations from other women denouncing other men as a “Democratic conspiracy.” They rely upon the testimony of other men – “friends” of the accused – who admit attending the parties in which inebriated youth engaged in sexual shenanigans.

Here is the fact that you should attend to, my coreligionists: those men have a vested interest in lying, because they also engaged in the same behaviors. If their friend goes down, they all go down.

What should happen, of course, is that fathers should counsel their sons to temperance. Those guilty of youthful indiscretion should recognize and apologize for their transgressions, and by their withdrawal from public life make it clear that such behavior is intolerable and costly.

The alternative is to subscribe to deviancy.

You despise the Catholic Church because it hid pedophilia from the public eye. How can you now support a party that hides sexual deviancy from the public eye? Because the perpetrators were drunk, or politically expedient to the cause of forcing women to bear unwanted children? Under just what conditions, pray, are those children going to be conceived if you tolerate drunken debauchery?

The sad truth is that you are now being used by the political elite in the GOP in the same what that pedophiles used the Catholic Church. They mouth support for your closely-held moral goals, using those assurance as a fig-leaf to cover their history of deviancy.

A Pence for Your Thoughts

Speculation abounds that Mike Pence is the author of the NY Times op-ed that lauds a cabal in the White House that is protecting the world from the President’s mental collapse.

So here’s how the scenario will play out: Trump will be ousted from office a few weeks before the mid-term elections. Pence will be sworn in, and the Republicans will count on the general mood of relief to lift them on polling day in November. They expect to retain full control of the Federal government and many of the states as well.

Trump is a tragedy, but he is loyal only to himself. The Republican restructuring of the federal government was delayed by his need to benefit at every turn. Pence has no such compulsions. He is a true believer, a religious and political dogmatist, and will cooperate fully with the conservative male politicians that seek to preserve their hegemony over the nation.

White-Washing

Paula White, one of Trump’s “spiritual advisors,” claims that refugees that break the law are not entitled to the same empathy given to the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt with the infant Jesus. White goes so far as to claim:

If he had broken the law, then he would have been sinful and he would not have been our Messiah.

The entire Old Testament is the history of how the seminal grace of Abraham’s covenant was subjugated by temporal authority. Jesus came to liberate the covenant, responding to “Are you king of the Jews?” with the simple plea:

You: say I am.

This is to remind us that true authority does not come from man-made laws and institutional arrangements. It comes from loving unconditionally. It comes from being willing to surrender your entire being to bring grace to those you cherish. Only the beloved can grant that authority.

Dear Mrs. White: run, don’t walk. You have taken up company with the anti-Christ.