By Robert Mann
Let the historians explain how evangelical Christians lost their way, but it’s a sad fact that a large, influential segment of a major faith is unmoored from its foundational, scriptural teachings. I’m talking about those evangelicals who have religiously ignored what the scriptures say — shout — about God’s favor for the poor and his compassion for the powerless.
Too many evangelical Christians evince only passing interest in such matters, having abandoned economic and social justice in favor of political power and luxuriating in the smug satisfaction of a personal relationship with Jesus, who guarantees an afterlife without Jews, Muslims and others who don’t look or pray like them.
It’s not only evangelicals. If you want a sense of how divorced some Christian leaders are from their faith, I recommend a fascinating conversation between two prominent Christian thinkers — David French and John Zmirak — in the New York Times. The reason for the discussion, moderated by conservative columnist Ross Douthat, was to explore why Evangelicals overwhelmingly support one of history’s most unChristian presidents.
What fascinated me most was not their disagreement over whether Donald Trump deserves praise from evangelicals; it was, rather, the cursory mention of the biblical mandate to champion and care for the poor and powerless.
The discussion revolved, instead, around Trump’s personal morality and his support for the political rights of conservative Christians and their preeminent issues, including abortion and appointing conservatives to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Even when more sensible evangelical leaders bemoan what’s become of their corrupted movement, they characterize the damage as abandonment, not of the poor, but of piety.Do you know how hard a Christian must work to devote that much effort talking about his faith and only mention, in passing, the poor?
It’s not that so many forget to talk about how their faith demands they treat the poor; it’s that they never seem to consider it.
Cases in point: Why are there not loud, massive protests of Christians over the obscene fact that Congress passed legislation that gives — at the expense of the poor and middle class — large tax cuts to corporations and wealthy individuals? Why are most Christians not enraged that, while it celebrates its unholy gift to the rich, Congress allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program to expire?
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