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When Politics Becomes Your Religion

A congregation effectively disfellowships an elderly Republican, because Trump
Protest sign: politics and faith

Here’s some insight into what the Trump election is doing to one small community. Me, I could not imagine — literally, could not imagine — deciding I could not be friends with someone over his or her political views, absent their being a Nazi or a Stalinist sort. But not everybody is like this. A friend passes this email on, which he received from a church pal. The church pal gave permission to publish it, as long as I obscure the names and identities, which I’ve done:

I just got off of the phone with my mother who was a bit distressed after a very awkward night at [restaurant]. She went to dinner with no other thought in her mind except to see her fellow church-goers and friends for dinner. When she walked in and headed towards the others…they ignored her. They would not even look at her. She was a bit confused…so she just went to the line to pay her money to the basket and pick up her plate of food. Then [woman] came up to her and said: “I see you’re wearing black because you’re in mourning”. To which my mother responded: “Umm…no, I’m not in mourning. Why do you say that?” And [that woman] just said “OH” and walked away. Then, [man] came up to her and said…”Oh yes, you’re one of those Republicans, aren’t you” …of course, in a half joking manner. And that’s when my mother realized why this was happening.

She said everyone in the place was down trodden, heads half bowed, and moping around as if someone just killed the cat. So, she went and sat down at a table by herself. Finally, [woman] and a new couple came and sat down with her. She said they were kind, nevertheless.

But, here comes the fun part. [The pastor] got up to the lectern and began her melancholy speech. She started by saying: I know many of you are grieving right now, but I just want to let you know that we’re going to get through this. She told a story about how they had to cradle her children in their arms and “somehow” tell them that evil is upon us and we just have to accept it for a while. And to top things off, she and one of the [family name] went into the kitchen and…get this…came out with bread and a bottle of grape juice. She said to everyone that they had a great idea for those grieving. They would have a communion right then and there. WHAT?
The last thing she said was that she wasn’t prepared to speak about all of this tonight, but she’s putting her thoughts together for later.

My mother, mouth on the floor, said to herself; “This is NOT what communion is about” and she got up and left. So, I expect a funeral service will be planned for Sunday.

I just had to let someone know how we, as conservatives, are being treated in this church. Luckily I am gone…but, to disrespect my, more than kind, mother that way is something I need to ponder. My mother, of course, said it wasn’t a big deal…but, she can find the good in a serial killer.

Of course I know it wasn’t egregious, but these little snips at her and the fact that people she’s known for numbers of years just ignore her? That’s just wrong.

My friend adds:

Rod, this is the way that Christians are treating their fellow Christians!
Here is my response to the letter:

All I can say is “wow!”

I continue to be amazed at how even our life-long “friends” could so willfully misread and misunderstand the motivations of so-called conservative Christians. It’s almost as if their own faith had no connection to two thousand years of church history.

That was sarcasm, of course.

I will be in church on Sunday to witness this hissy-fit meltdown—I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Donald Trump wasn’t my first choice for president, but as vulgar and crude as he may be, he’s absolutely right about the effects of the globalist vision on Main Street, USA. The consequences of that vision have laid waste to what was perhaps the finest collection of self-reliant villages and towns ever to grace a continent. And even if Mr. Trump doesn’t understand the economic theories explaining what’s happened, he at least had the vulgarity to see the consequences and call them what they are. In an age in which the typical politician will studiously avoid speaking any truth which will not see him re-elected, the only vision capable of such appears to be that of the vulgarian—someone crude enough and fearless enough to say what is plainly true, and which everyone is too afraid to acknowledge aloud.

At any rate, the conservatives among us have been in mourning for eight years–and I don’t remember being offered Holy Communion once for my sackcloth and ashes or my misery in the fact that “things didn’t go my way.”

And….your observations about your “more than kind” mother are spot-on. I could understand these “friends” giving me that treatment. After all, I’ve occasionally been unkind enough to point out the inconsistencies in their theological power-grabs. And…I can take it.

But to treat [name of mother] in this manner transcends mere rudeness. It goes to the very core of their soul-sickness, revealing the rot and decay in a faith which can no longer love. This, to me, is the surprising thing, to step into a place of worship, with old friends, and instead find it filled with faithless strangers.

I’ll make it a point to sit with your mother next Sunday!

My friend passed on the email he sent to his pastor. It said, in part:

There are certainly times when Christians should don sackcloth and ashes to mourn the state of political affairs — but I very much doubt whether it is Christ-like to do so with every change of a political regime. Christians are, instead, created to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. The critical part of that destiny is that we walk through it! If being a Christian means anything, it means that you don’t linger in that oppressive valley feeling sorry for yourself. Your destiny is something different—eternal fellowship with our Creator. Your walking stick is Christian Hope — the Paraclete — who constantly encourages us to make it through the valley to our true destiny.

Rather than be a retreat from the world — i.e., a “safe space” — worship should be that place where we come in closest contact with the Paraclete so that we may be fortified for our unavoidable journey through the valley.

We all have a lot to think about, and the temptation to take an election that didn’t go our way as a justification to linger in misery is a powerful one. But it cannot be the response of the Christian, whose destiny lies beyond this vale of tea

Who does that to people they’ve gone to church with for years and years? Who allows that to happen within their congregation? People for whom politics has become their religion, that’s who. A congregation that has degenerated into nothing more than a political party at prayer. Repent!