No. 27

You, too, can get your name on a book. All you've got to do is betray your country and your God!

You, too, can get your name on a book. All you've got to do is betray your country and your God!

Worship a false idol.

Before I go into anything else, I want to say this to all reasonable Christians (I know there are some left out there): in the United States, we are never going to ban guns or abortion. It's not going to happen. If you approach a debate with an unrealistic demand or expectation, you will never be anything more than a hindrance. As long as gun nuts believe liberals want to take all their guns, as long as some liberals act like they want to take all the guns, we will never have progress on gun-related violence in this dumbass country. As long as anti-abortionists demand for abortion to be outlawed, we will never have progress on what should be a common goal: reducing rates of abortion and unintended pregnancy. I dislike the term "pro-life" because too many people who claim that label support capital punishment and war and killer drones, but I'm going to use it here anyway: if pro-lifers would listen, they might find that Democrats, at least some Democrats, are more likely than Republicans to succeed at reducing the numbers of abortions in this country. That reduction may require some compromises on some other beliefs, like sex education and access to birth control, but surely abortion is worse than condoms?* Maybe you don't like birth control, maybe you think abstinence is the best way; that view might work for some people, but it doesn't work for everyone, and if your refusal to compromise around sex education and birth control leads to increases in unintended pregnancies and abortions, then aren't you complicit in the very social problem you oppose? This country was built on compromise. I'm not saying you're un-American, but . . . 

Anyway, switching gears a bit:

It’s tempting to think that the people who spent eight years calling Obama the Anti-Christ yet now say God put Trump in power are racist, but not everything is about racism. Sometimes people are just stupid. We focus so much on racism that we ignore other forms of stupidity, which in this case makes it easy to overlook that fact that if the forty-fourth president had been white—but still a Democrat—most of the anti-Christers would have adhered to the same narrative. I'm not saying the virulent hatred of Obama wasn't related to racism; much of it was, or it was added to the preexisting virulent hatred of Democrats. The hardline racists would have still hated a white president, would have called him a racist, anti-white, race traitor. The less hardline racists would have still hated him for being a Democrat, which in many circles is synonymous with evil. I understand their hatred: they've been conditioned by fanatics in politics, religion, and their warped segment of media to believe that Democrats are evil because we support access to abortion. I'd like to believe that some of these people can get away from these extreme beliefs, but I don't have much hope.

To those of you who are Christian but not delusional, intransigent, or willfully stupid, I ask you to choose a side: join with your American compatriots to oppose the religious ideologues who threaten everyone's liberty. There isn't a bigger threat to the future of this country than right-wing Christian extremism. They are ruining both their country and their religion. The United States has a long history of fanaticism; we were formed in many ways by fanatics, people who came here to practice their fanaticism freely, and you could probably argue that it's a miracle we haven't completely succumbed to fanaticism, that we are not ruled by it now. We were probably just lucky that there were too many strains for one form of fanaticism to take control. The convenient timing of the Enlightenment fad also helped. We've been lucky so far, but we can't rely on luck. Now is the time to resist fanaticism. You can start by not believing bullshit. God doesn’t interfere in elections, you goddamn heretics. If He did, Trump supporters would have all been prevented from getting to the polls on election day by a horrendous plague of Pepe frogs dropping from the sky. We're all entitled to our own opinions—that's one of the benefits of liberty, but it's also a threat to liberty: the people whose opinions are based on bigotry and bullshit generally believe their opinions are as valid as opinions that are based on facts and sound reasoning. We can't disenfranchise them, and we shouldn't want to, but we can stop treating them as if we take them seriously. We can stop placating them. We can hold them to higher standards than they hold themselves to. If you have a friend who believes God is a Trumpist, consider it a duty to your country to cry bullshit.

Some of these manic phony Christians seem to see Trump as a godlike figure. Some of them don't really like him; they see him as a stepping-stone to a Pence presidency, which scares me more than Trumpism. Trumpism doesn't scare me; it just pisses me off and makes me sad. I'm not a flag-worshipping patriot, but I take being an American very seriously, and I mourn for my country. Trump is no Christian, and he's repugnant enough to put off a lot of Christians (some of whom regard him as the anti-Christ). Mike Pence is more dangerous because he's camouflaged. He's not deliberately controversial or confrontational. He hides behind a cloak of faith and decency, but he's more radical than George W. Bush. He's bad news for immigrants, gay and transgender people, but I'm fairly safe. I'm a heterosexual, lower-middle-class white guy, so he's not a big threat to me, personally, and a lot of people seem to be comfortable with that calculus. Yeah, so-and-so is kind of bad for X group, but he's cool to me so fuck 'em. Aside from the moral rebarbativeness of that calculus, there's another reason not to accept it: Mike Pence could be the end of politicians pretending to represent more than their core group of supporters, which is a threat to all Americans, not just the ones who fit into what people like to call vulnerable communities. Remember his words when he accepted the VP nomination: "I'm a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican—in that order." Motherfucker (get it? because he calls his wife "mother"), I'm an American. That identity forms the core of my politics. After that I'm a moderate progressive-ish, liberal, anarchic pragmatist. I'm registered as a Democrat, but I'm not always in lockstep with the party. 

I'm rambling, of course. I'm supposed to be making fun of a book called God and Donald Trump, but I don't want to think about it. So here:

I have a question for theologists: what's worse, a person (like me) of no religious faith, or a person of phony religious faith?  I have always despised the pick-and-choose Christians, the people who promote their opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage as signs of their great faith, even as they do fuck-all for the poor, even as they judge people, covet their neighbors' wives and possessions, and do a Hell of a lot of other shit that's highly frowned upon in the Bible. But they say their Christian, and that's what counts.

I don't really know where to put this, so it's going here: Pope Francis is on Twitter. I recently learned that he has trolls, like all other public figures. I saw a troll say the pope is divisive. While I disagree with Pope Francis on some issues, I still find him to be rather inspiring, not in a cheesy-quote-on-a-poster kind of way, more of an I-guess-it's-good-if-the-apocalypse-doesn't-happen-today kind of way: unlike so many prominent religious leaders, he pushes Christians to embody the best aspects of their faith, rather than the worst, and while it's fair to criticize him for his views on transgender people and some of his recent comments in support of a Bishop who has been accused of covering up sex abuse, he still deserves respect. I would like it if he would say Christians just need to shut the fuck up about sexual and gender identity and focus on good works, but there was something I said earlier about unrealistic demands. Back to the point, this fucking Twitter troll, this fucking Canadian fake-Catholic Trumpist whose name I forgot, goes on Twitter, jumps into the pope's comments, and dares to call Pope Francis divisive because the pope promotes social justice? I have no doubt that, if Jesus walked the Earth today, many of the people who purport to follow and worship him would shake their damn heads and call him a divisive figure.

Can you be a Christian and a Trump supporter? The only traits of Christianity Trump displays are opposition to abortion and lip service to the Bible. There's not much overlap between the core beliefs of Christianity and those of Trumpism, but there is much conflict, if you want to be more than a lip-service Christian. I suppose that's the issue: you can call yourself whatever you like, but you can't really be a Christian while cheering on such a vile, anti-Christian man. I might go to Hell for my lack of belief, and if you disagree with me about Trump, let's all agree to continue this conversation down there.

*I'm appealing to anti-abortion Christians in utilitarian terms because so many of them made a utilitarian choice in voting for Trump as president, thinking that by casting a vote for a rapy, philandering, money-grubbing, backstabbing, contractor-stiffing, un-Christian, selfish, authoritarian narcissist, they were doing the greatest good for the unborn. They didn't consider, however, that Trump can't do much about abortion. He doesn't have the power to ban abortion; that choice was good for nothing.

©Alan Good 2018