the trump travesty.

On the whole, I stay away from political stuff around here. Once in a while I write something, but the divisiveness is just too crazy and I’d much rather talk about other things. At the same time, over the past several years I have become more clear about how important it is to participate in the political process. Legislation does matter, and we can contribute to change that way. I recently had the privilege of testifying at a Colorado house commitee meeting, speaking against a horrid bill related to religious freedom (thankfully, it didn’t move forward). My very short time there was eye opening, inspiring, and exhausting & painful, too, and helped me see some things I probably needed to see.

I know so many of us have lost hope in the political system and want to throw in the towel and say that the whole kit and kaboodle is corrupt, but I will still hold to our responsibilities as citizens to make our voices known and participate in change this way. It’s a way for us to be advocates.

Like so many others, I am a bit confused on who is actually voting for Trump. Even the most conservative folks I know, who I staunchly disagree with on a whole host of issues, are as embarrassed and dumbfounded by the whole Trump train as so many other Americans.

But the reality is this: He is winning.

By a lot.

People all over this country are actually voting for him.

They are actually resonating with the things he’s saying, actually believing he should be the next president of the United States of America, actually taking steps that could put him into the White House.

I recently read an article about the Trump phenomenon that some of you may have seen as well. It focused on the one quality that is the driving factor that all Trump supporters share that isn’t about income, education or age–it’s about a desire for authoritarianism.

Authoritarianism. 

The desire to have someone who will kick ass and take names.

Someone who will make what-appear-to-be-strong decisions.

Someone who will keep us separate–and protected–from others who might do us harm.

Someone who will tell us what to do.

Someone who can have authority over us and lead us.

Oh, people love to have kings.

And we feed the cycle of narcissism like no other. We like charisma and power and leadership from above not below.

It’s part of the crazy human story that’s weaved throughout all of history.

As we travel the Lenten road toward Easter, it is always illuminated even more brightly. People wanted an authoritative king and thought that was who Jesus was going to be when he rode into Jerusalem on that donkey. Instead, he hung on a cross just a few days later.

Yeah, Jesus messed the whole thing up, and all these generations later his ways are great to talk about and much harder to practice. I mean who likes to die for others?

People now are just like people then, and this current election is revealing something horridly painful:

As a culture, we are terribly racist.

We are painfully sexist.

We are deeply fear-based.

We are tragically self-centered.

We will do anything to protect ourselves.

Watching Trump’s margins continue to grow is beyond bizarre.

Watching narcissistic-abusive-pastors slithering through the wreckage they created and somehow still building a following and new churches and big platforms is beyond me.

Watching prominent conservative Christian leaders get away with saying the most disturbing things on Facebook and get thousands and thousands of likes and shares is far-more-than-disturbing.

Watching this all play out before our very eyes is telling.

It’s a travesty, really.

A travesty.

I’ll say it again–a travesty.

And if any of us think it’s not possible he could get elected, let us never forget the history of the world and the leaders who people will blindly follow to stay protected.

Plus, because human beings make human patterns, let us never forget that so many churches are packed with leaders who exhibit many of these same qualities.

We are addicted to this sh*t in more ways than we’d probably like to believe.

That’s what this election is revealing, and as painful as it is, I am sort of glad it’s happening.

It helps us see it’s this insidious. It’s ugly. It’s worse than we know.

So where is the hope? There’s got to be some hope, right? Please tell me there’s hope. God, there’s got to be hope.

Oh, there’s hope.

I am so grateful for the countless number of men and women and young people I know who are dedicated to change. Who are listening to the Spirit’s call to something deeper. Who are done with kings. Who are done with perpetuating the same old systems of power and fear. Who take Jesus’ words seriously not just in theory but in practice, too. Who aren’t just sitting on the sidelines waiting for others to make decisions for them. Who refuse to let authoritarianism guide them.

Our numbers are growing.

And we’re not lost, broken, godless, without-family-values, or stupid.

We’re just willing to believe that there’s got to be a better way.

Please, oh please, let there be more of us in November.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

39 Comments

  • I was having this discussion with my mom last week. How many times in the Old Testament did the people DEMAND a king?! They always hated it after the fact. I’m glad God accomplishes his purposes through sin rather than in spite of it. I don’t know of anyone who supports him, either. It’s just such a crazy time.

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  • Wow Kathy I am so glad you have opened up this discussion, Milo Yiannopoulos who I mentioned in our last discussion is a huge Trump advocate and has very interesting things to say about his appeal in today’s political landscape. One of the key reasons he speculates that Trump is winning is because he speaks in plain language, he is a self made man who says what is on his mind. I will read that Vox article for sure but this idea that his appeal is connected to authoritarianism is absurd as I know for a fact that Milo and his followers have very very LIbertarian leanings. May post again after I read some more but here are my initial thoughts

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    • Whether or not a desire for “authoritarianism” is the main dynamic is almost beside the point. Kathy lists other aspects in many followers (whether of Trump or others) that fuel unhealthy reactions to unpleasant or fearful things. None of us knows for sure what kind of President Trump would be if he got there. But we already know enough of what he has been for 69 years to make a critical judgment. Thankfully, for over 50% of the country (going on his “unfavorability” polling) he IS seen as unworthy, unqualified or both. I think that’s plain to see if one is not blinded by frustrations. Even IF he could do all the incredible things he promises (much, much more than Obama ever promised), the massive downside risk is in no way worth taking.

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      • I would honestly pay attention to college campuses in America and the absolute removal of free speech which is what your country was founded on. The tides are and will continue to shift. There is an awakening amongst people who are tired of being labelled. I encourage you to look into GamerGate if you haven’t already. An entire demographic told they are sexist, racist, and bigoted just because they wanted to be left alone to play video games.

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        • It does seem those once associated as the “labelers” are now tasting the bitterness of being stereotyped. I would tend to agree that labeling & stereotyping is a slippery slope, and quickly becomes divisive.

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    • Clearly an advocate for any agenda would want to substantiate that agenda, and in your example claim Trump’s success is based upon his strengths (not the folly of his supporters). There’s nothing more absurd than to think those for liberty, are immune to the desire for safety.

      ”Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.” I don’t understand Trump to be rallying Libertarians, as you do with Milo’s support(?) of Trump.

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      • The reason I started commenting on here was not to sway voters as I live in New Zealand I am simply saying things are not always as they appear. GamerGate for example.

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    • thanks mark. i know you have found deep resonance with milo but yeah, i’m definitely not a fan and am okay with staying as far away from that kind of rhetoric as possible. we can all see this very differently and honor that.

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      • Oh absolutely, the point I am trying to make here as that love him or hate him Milo is resonating with a lot of hurting people too Kathy, I wrote a blog recently sharing the reflections of one person I just happened to ask why the resonated with Milo and the response was genuine, compassionate, and full of empathy…there is a paradox here, you doing what you are called to do while amazing and needed does not take away from any of this other stuff that is going on.

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  • Interesting how our current president has been accused of being irreligious/unChristian by many conservatives, some of the same people who now want Trump. How many smarts does it take to see this guy is not for the average person, the little people, the poor, the minorities? I find nothing about him that looks anything like Jesus. Nero maybe, but Jesus no. The entire Trump phenomenon does throw open the window to the thinking of a substantial portion of our population and what we see is indeed alarming. Can these people not think for themselves?

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    • OK I promise I won’t spam the comments but I do hope this discussion can remain one that doesn’t just throw stones and make assumptions about the other side. As someone who has disagreed thoughtlessly with someone on this very blog in fact it is curious to me to see how easy we find it to write someone off by slandering character and not hearing the facts. Funny how you mention Nero if you check out @Nero on Twitter you will find a greater understanding as to the growing appeal of Trump which is in short a growing number of people of all ages who are tired of being labelled as racist, sexist, and bigoted.

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    • thanks, sam. i thought it was fascinating how the pope’s calling building walls “not Christian” ended up somehow being “not a Christian” and everyone went crazy when for 8 years, obama’s faith has been ripped apart day after day after day. fascinating, really.

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  • OK this is my post reading/skimming the Vox article comment…It talked about people voting out of fear of terrorism…is this not a legitimate fear? When you have the police in cologne germany reporting that the night was uneventful and victims of sexual assault posting apologies on facebook for talking about what they experiences lest the incite racism one does wonder what is really going on here..just some humble thoughts from someone not blinded by the american political and social climate

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    • Fear is legitimate Mark. Kathy is inspiring us to vote from a position of desire for what’s good, not from a position of fear from what’s bad. It’s a difference in worldview, that Life is abundant, not scarce.

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  • The falsity is that we are a Christian nation built on Christian principles. We are not. Trump really is no different from the founding fathers. I have begun researching the beliefs of the founding fathers, and many of them were anti-Christians. (Not saying he’s not Christian, only God know the answer to that) Jefferson created his own bible removing any references to anything that couldn’t be provin by reason. He wanted to raticate Christ from this new country. George Washington refused to ake part in communion, and when confronted by the church, he declined to attend services at all. From how I see it, this is what happens when you eradicate Jesus. You lose humanity. I don’t look for the government to teach that anytime soon, and as long as we continue to demand that THEY fix our communities, we will continue to experience in-humane treatment of more and more people. Jesus taught about personal accountability, and that doesn’t fit with Washingtons agenda. That theory has trickled down faster than the trickle down economics ever did…

    These are very scary times we live in. We have a far to overbearing and overreaching government. We should be concerned with the Apple situation.

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    • What’s the Apple situation? Also lets talk about Acorn too… Interesting how these arbitrary words can come to represent so much

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          • The FBI believes they can prevent (and control) the US from harm, no matter the threat. You sound shocked to hear of this cultural pursuit, a nation locked in its own house.

    • thanks for taking time to share, mindy! it’s been awesome to see some of the collaborations around here where faith leaders work with other agencies and leaders for change, instead of just sitting by expecting them to take care of it.

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    • Mindy, the situation of religious differences in the colonial and revolutionary period is complex. Similarly to how it is now. “Liberal” and “conservative” factions, along a spectrum (and not a single issue spectrum) with various stances. I’ve read about and studied it some over the years, including directly reading some of Jonathan Edwards (which very few do, as it’s mostly very deeply philosophical), Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. I can attest that most people oversimplify it.

      For example, while some consider Jefferson “anti-Christian”, he and even his more traditionally Christian friend/opponent/friend Adams, probably would not. In some of the extensive post-presidency correspondence between these two, Jefferson makes clear that his desire is to help Christianity return to the simplicity (uncomplicated by the very philosophy he was well versed in) of Jesus’ teachings…. Actually much like people such as Brian McLaren, Kathy Escobar, many “Emerging” Christians, myself, etc. And Jefferson was NOT naive about the nature of the Bible and claims about it from all along the theological spectrum. He was up on the just-emerging scholarly pursuit of “higher criticism” of the Bible, particularly following the writings of Joseph Priestly. Priestly was a well-trained theologian, British then American. He’s more known by most people as a scientist, which was mostly his earlier career before many theological articles and books. Jefferson certainly can’t be taken as anti-religious in a broad way, though he seems to have been within the more “skeptical” Deist thinking prominent in his day. He retained a “Judeo-Christian” base, with particular focus on Jesus (rather than Paul and later Christian Platonism). That is, he wasn’t within what later came to be called “secular humanism”, often involving atheism.

      One classic study of early America as to religion (or Christian theology) is “The Protestant Temperament” by Phillip Greven. You might find that a fascinating read if you’ve not encountered it. As I recall, it is not highly technical but written for a primarily lay audience. (Many years since I read it, remembering being quite impressed with it.)

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  • Kathy perhaps connecting with some Trump fans and asking them why they personally support him may be a great starting point.

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    • It would seem that question is answered by the content of his proclamations, particularly in comparison to other candidates. No?

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    • we don’t have any personal in-real life friends in this category at the moment; online, the reasons are what i shared in this post–“someone who is strong and will take this country back”

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  • Regardless of the candidates and the outcome, if we are true believers willing to submit to God’s authority, we must believe that God is the one who will decide the winner. Just as he did in the day of Kings.

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    • thanks, linda, for your perspective here. always appreciate hearing them! for me, i think the part that i lean on the most is the truth that “God will be with us no matter what, working, revealing, moving, transforming.”

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    • I had posted this article on my FB wall a year ago today (came across it in Timehop). Tonight, of course, we now know that Trump would go on and win this election.

      As a conservative Christian, I am appalled that he won. Not because I supported Hillary (I didn’t), but because Christians supported HIM. I kept asking my fellow peers, “What business do we, as Christians, have in putting our vote of confidence behind such an ungodly, blatantly wicked man? Why?” And I kept hearing the same things. “He’s better than her.” “Fewer babies will die, my conscience is clean.” “We had no other choice.”

      And, “God is in control and has allowed him to be elected. There must be a purpose.”

      Clearly, God allowed Trump to be elected. I believe in His sovereignty. But God’s allowance of an evil “king” does not require our active participation in putting him in power.

      When I see your comment (and I’m not pointing fingers at you, Linda…just “you” in general)…that God has allowed this and He has decided the winner of this election…I am immediately reminded of a quote by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn…it is, imo, probably the single most relevant quote in this entire election, as it pertains to Christians and Trump.

      “You can resolve to live your life with integrity. Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me.” –Aleksander Solzhenitsyn

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      • I am not a Trump supporter and agree with your remarks. I was prompted to write this thinking about how God let many kings rule over his people. Some were good some benign and some very bad. We can still trust God and maybe that is His intent.

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        • Yes, absolutely. God most definitely has a purpose in allowing Trump’s presidency.

          When it appeared that Hillary was going to walk away with this election, and I was still trying to convince my peers that voting for Trump was not the answer, I heard a lot of fear for what her presidency would mean for Christians.

          There were many comments about how Christian rights would be eroded and those fears were probably valid.

          To me, a Hillary presidency appeared to be part of God’s judgment against a Christian nation that is quite spoiled and weak of faith.

          I was not afraid of the coming judgment because I knew that, despite how awful and difficult it would be, ultimately it would draw Christians closer to God.

          And then Trump won. And most of my Christian friends breathed a sigh of relief. But I think it is sorely short sighted.

          Opinions of Christians are not helped by his presidency. Especially as Christians remain resolutely silent while his problems mount. And in some cases, not just silent but often outright supportive.

          Willfully blind to his very serious issues.

          I think in the long run, his presidency is going to make things worse for christians. On the other side of this, there will likely be a liberal president and he/she will have a large contingency of supporters that hate christians even more than they already did.

          The impact of that may be devastating.

          But time will tell.

          Still, God is sovereign and it will play out to His purpose. I just hope to be faithful through it.

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  • thank you so much for sharing this link, howard. i had never heard of it & it is really interesting. will dig a little deeper and share with sage, too 🙂

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    • You’re more than welcome. I am remiss myself, as to doing much in support of what I think is both practical and inspiring in their efforts. Whether it is in their design or some other, it seems clear that we need some new mechanisms in our system to “shake things up”… not any particular President or set of congressional leaders and members. Even if someone other than Trump is elected (and I DON’T expect him to become President), I won’t expect much in the way of change. Warren would probably be my favored choice if she’d have run, but even if she became President somehow, I’d not expect her to be able to revolutionize much. However a person (especially a woman) of her talents and stature, without political baggage, could certainly help reverse some terrible trends… but, oh well!

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