Like much of America’s history, in fiction and non-fiction, Donald Trump’s vision for America is whitewashed, that is, it seems to him and his followers that the white race is the only race that has mattered in the past and the only race that deserves to matter in the future.
A Trumpian vision for America is not only untrue to our past and a danger to our future in political terms, it is a faith crisis as well.
Of Mexican immigrants, Trump has actually said, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
For me, as a seminary student and person of faith, remarks like these must be interpreted in the light of the resources of Christian faith and especially from my theological commitments to the love of God and neighbor.
The Gospels consistently portray a Jesus of Nazareth whose theology exists for the “other.” Jesus of Nazareth’s vision for human community was the exact opposite of whitewashing.
Jesus literally reached out and touched the untouchables: the lepers (Matt 8:1-4), hemorrhaging women (Mark 5:25-34), and demon possessed (Matt 15:21-28).
Jesus ate with sinners (Mark 2:13-17).
Jesus commanded, “… invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” to dinner (Luke 14:13).
Jesus gave us the greatest commandments: love God and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 23:37-40).
Jesus called us to build community that extends beyond the borders of our culture, ethnicity, race, and ability.
Popular culture can also be useful in providing a critique of whitewashing. For example, the wildly popular musical Hamilton takes the whitewashed history of this nation’s founding and turns it upside down with a diverse cast representing the melting pot of America.
Alexander Hamilton was a brash, principled man desperate to “rise up” from poverty and make a difference. Aaron Burr, the opportunist, was just as ambitious as Hamilton, but lacked principles.
Trump is every bit as opportunistic as Burr and brash as Hamilton, yet lacks their earnestness. He has been heralded by some faith leaders as the Christian choice, but Trump has never been known for his faith.
My faith and my theology lead me to recognize Trump’s ideas for what they are. What they are is undeniably contrary to the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
Trump does not consider “the other,” is not compassionate, and is uninterested in social justice. Of the millions fleeing war-torn Syria, Trump would limit entrance to, “those who share our values and respect our people.” This is not just contrary to our Constitution; it is contrary to everything Jesus of Nazareth taught.
To me, as a follower of Jesus Christ, it seems inconceivable that a person like this has support. Polls indicate the race is tightening: a scary thought for peace-loving, compassionate people of faith who believe in respecting the dignity of every human being.
I urge other Christians to examine this race in light of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and vote not for themselves, but for God and neighbor.