Ignoring the Facts to our Spiritual Peril | Sojourners

Ignoring the Facts to our Spiritual Peril

Former Secretary of Energy Rick Perry (left) in Brussels on May 2, 2019. Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com; Rev. Franklin Graham in Lincoln, Neb., during his Decision America tour in 2016. Matt Johnson / Flickr

The facts in the impeachment case against President Donald Trump are compelling and beyond dispute. But for many, the facts simply do not matter. Republicans are trying to defend the indefensible. For many who watch Fox News, however, a defense is hardly necessary. For them, “fake news” is being propelled by a Democratic witch hunt.

Last week President Trump maintained that the Ukrainian government was responsible for interfering in our elections, not the Russians. That's a wild conspiracy theory and a lie. Moreover, it advances a Russian narrative designed to shift blame from themselves, and it damages our national security. That is a fact. But that doesn't matter to those defiantly loyal to Trump. Never, since my time in Washington politics beginning during Nixon's Watergate impeachment, have I been so depressed with the state of politics in the U.S.

Most of all, I am deeply distressed by the complicity of so many white evangelicals in their support of President Trump, either by their words or their deafening silence. This has escalated to the most extreme, heretical levels, with now former Cabinet member Rick Perry declaring on Fox News that Trump is “the chosen one” who was “sent by God to do great things.” The frequent defense is that God uses imperfect rulers to do great things, like King David, despite his infidelity. It’s an argument I never heard a Republican make about President Clinton.

I believe in a providential God whose ways are often hidden, and not readily discernable in immediate history. But that is far different than condoning divine righteousness on a president whose immorality, cruelty, narcissism, and bigotry spawn policies and actions directly contrary to message of the gospel.

Franklin Graham goes even further. In an interview as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) was ending the impeachment hearings, Graham suggested those opposing President Trump were “demonic.” His father Billy learned his lesson through blind allegiance to President Nixon until the profane truth of the Watergate tapes was revealed. It changed Billy Graham’s stance toward presidents. But Franklin didn’t inherit his father’s public wisdom. Casting political opponents of Trump in demonic terms transforms our toxic politics into a spiritual polarization posing the most serious threats. Franklin is throwing gas on our combustible political divisions.

The damage all this is doing to the witness of Christian faith within the U.S. will last for at least a generation. Every time I travel abroad, church leaders from other countries are astonished and dismayed by the complicity of so many in the U.S. church. De-Americanizing the gospel is now an imperative for a voice with any integrity. Further, a younger generation now walks away from the church with barely a shrug of their shoulders.

Who will speak truth in ways that go so much deeper than partisanship and proclaim that the moral callousness inflicted on our nation by this president is a devastating social transgression endangering us all?