6/30/17

Politics, nationalism, and religion ... a really toxic combination

What exactly is being worshiped here?

Yesterday was “Freedom Sunday” at the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.  The pastor of First Baptist is Robert Jeffress.  He is a Trump supporter, Christian nationalist, and prominent court evangelical. As the pictures attached to this tweet indicate, it was a day of patriotic celebration in the church sanctuary.

People waved American flags during the service.

The last time I checked, the waving of the American flag was a sign of support or loyalty to the nation.  Jeffress had no problem allowing such an act to take place in a church sanctuary–the place where Christians worship God as a form of expressing their ultimate loyalty.  Patriotism is fine. Flag-waving is fine.  But I wonder if any of the congregation felt uncomfortable that all of this took place in the church sanctuary on a Sunday morning.


There were fireworks.  Yes, fireworks.  Somehow the pyrotech crew at First Baptist figured out a way to pull this off without burning the place down.  I assume that these fireworks did not represent the pillars of fire that led the Israelites through the wilderness in the Old Testament. (Although it wouldn’t surprise me if someone during the service connected these patriotic fireworks to God’s leading of his new “chosen people”–the United States–through the desert of extreme religious persecution). I also don’t think the fireworks were meant to represent the “tongues of fire” present on the day of Pentecost as recorded in the book of Acts, chapter 2.  (Also, from what I am able to tell from the church website, First Baptist did not celebrate Pentecost Sunday on June 4, 2017).

So what exactly was being worshiped?

The author of the article notes that the pastor, Robert Jeffress is a 'Trump supporter, Christian nationalist, and prominent court evangelical.'

Are you curious as to what a 'court evangelical' is?

Here ya go:

The evangelical courtiers who kneel before the president’s feet

These include, but are not limited to ...

Paula White: Paula White: A televangelist, prosperity preacher, and pastor of the New Destiny Christian Center near Orlando, Fla. White claims to have led Trump to Christ.

James Dobson: The former leader of the evangelical ministry Focus on the Family. He is also the guy who, in 1998, said that Bill Clinton should be removed from office because he lacked moral character.

Mark Burns: The African-American televangelist and pastor of the Harvest Praise & Worship Center in South Carolina. In a prayer at the GOP convention last summer, Burns asked God to defeat the “liberal Democratic Party” and thanked the Lord that the Republican Party was the “conservative party under God.”

Franklin Graham: The North Carolina evangelist who declared that “God allowed Donald Trump to win” the 2016 election.

Eric Metaxas: The popular Christian biographer and radio host. He has defended Bill O’Reilly and was seen yucking it up at the executive order ceremony with Mike Pence and Franklin Graham.


Court evangelicals?' More like 'court jesters,' were it not for the manner in which they corrupt their churches with politics and nationalism

Bonhoeffer, Barth, and Niemoller. I suspect that they would find this nationalism in the church just fascinating. Like no one had learned a thing. Dobson and Metaxas clearly have not. Nor Graham. Amazing how the allure of the power of politics can so easily overcome the power of the Divine.

Or more accurately, when the allure of political power Trumps the power of God.

From my accomplice-in-life:

"Oh bleh. I'm so disappointed. I used to listen to Greg Laurie's preaching in California. He was really good. Eric Metaxis wrote the outstanding biography on Bonhoeffer. How could he participate in such nationalism after writing about Bonhoeffer? I also remember James Dobson's extreme dislike for Bill Clinton. Why was Clinton's moral character so much worse than Trump's that he should have been kicked out of office? I just can't believe all of this."