Tomorrow night Donald Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address. Notice I wrote “Donald Trump” not President Trump. I am simply unable to call him President. As far as I am concerned he has debased the office of President to such an extent that I cannot dignify him with the title “President.”
I want to be as fair as possible in this column. There is no doubt that our economy is doing well. Employers are hiring, the stock market is soaring. I have never understood how much a president should be blamed for a bad economy, nor how much he should be credited with a good economy. I’m simply acknowledging the fact that the economy is doing well. Somewhat strangely it is up, but the fact remains Trump’s approval ratings are lower than any other president after one year in office.
One area of abject failure has been Trump’s inability or unwillingness to express a vision that unites us as a people. What appeal he has had has been strictly limited to his base. There have been numerous opportunities to deliver an uplifting and unifying message and he has completely failed to deliver.
From all indications he is a man who wouldn’t recognize the truth if his life depended on it. His lies, and there is no other word for them, are beyond counting. What bothers me tremendously is that Trump is so accomplished at lying I’m sometimes afraid he doesn’t even recognize that he is lying. When John Ehrlichman submitted his resignation letter to President Nixon he wrote, “I have always felt that the appearance of honesty and integrity is every bit as important as the fact of one’s honesty and integrity.” A sad commentary, but it may carry a ring of truth with the present administration.
I have a concern that when lying becomes accepted as it seems to be in this administration we as a people are in mortal danger. We may soon reach the point where we simply don’t believe anything we are told. After being lied to and deceived often enough it becomes accepted as the norm and deception when it becomes the rule so easily may become a way of life.
I have been amazed, maybe dumbfounded would be a better word, at the support Donald Trump has received from evangelical Christians. Even Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, and a strong supporter of Donald Trump is totally surprised at the level of support. Last week he was quoted as saying, “God must have a sense of humor because for Donald Trump to have emerged as one of the great advocates for the agenda of evangelicals and social conservatives is something that very few would have predicted even a few years ago.”
We do well to remember that there is another wing in the evangelical Christian movement. Besides the Falwells, the Perkins, the Reeds, and the Stanleys, there is a strong prophetic side, conservative theologically, but liberal in terms of social issues. This side is led by people like Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis. I have taken a book from each of these men, “God’s Politics” by Jim Wallis and “Red Letter Christians” by Tony Campolo. I have combined parts of each book to compose what I am calling, “A Christian Manifesto.” I have no doubt that both men would agree wholeheartedly with the resulting Manifesto.
“We will measure the President by whether he enhances human life and human dignity; whether he promotes racial reconciliation and supports gender equality; whether he serves peace and social justice; and whether he advances the common good rather than only individual, national, and special interests.
We believe that poverty – caring for the poor and vulnerable is very definitely a religious issue.
We believe that the environment – caring for God’s earth is a religious issue.
We believe that war – and our call to be peacemakers is a religious issue.
We believe that truth telling is a religious issue.
We believe that our response to terrorism is a religious issue.
We believe that a consistent ethic of human life is a religious issue.
This to us is the meaning of responsible Christian citizenship.”
If somehow by some miracle men like Campolo and Wallis could gain the ear of Donald Trump and convince him of the validity and the necessity of implementing the preceding Manifesto within his administration I might be led to say , “Welcome President Trump!”