Political Alliances, not Compromise
Strange political alliances are nothing new. Even if only a matter of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend,’ pragmatism produces some odd relationships. This is doubly so when one party is sworn to shun foreign covenants [alliances] as the very epitome of worldly compromise.
Addressing the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, Jerry Falwell Jr. made several statements which some might regard as both odd and ‘foreign.’ Consider these two:
‘We have never met such a genuine and loving family; I truly believe Mr. Trump is America’s blue caller billionaire’ [2:57].
‘…we are at a crossroads were our first priority must be saving our nation’ [4:20].
The video suggests Falwell’s support for repealing the restriction of non-partisan speech for non-profits and churches. He seems to think that this is a ‘free speech’ issue. In reality, he can go political already. But if he does, that tax exempt status is forfeited. Mr. Falwell gave no indication of whether he wanted tax exemption revoked along with the prohibition.
The July 21, ’16 NPR ‘Morning Edition’ featured Steve Inskeep’s interview with Falwell. There, he offered this insight:
‘…if you poll that group and you look for where the traditional social issues fall, they used to be near the top. And now, they’re the last ones on the list … Many pastors tell me that what difference does it make what happens with social issues if we lose our country? We’ve got to save our country first.’
Pragmatism at all Costs
It is certainly true that abortion and marriage rights no longer command the attention they once did. But Falwell’s statement tempts us to think that in times of crisis, we can suspend the rules.
But again, a host of issues never captured the evangelical/fundamentalist imagination. Yet these also suggest a nation undergoing collapse:
- A 7.9% increase in deaths by police in 2015 over 2014.
- US maternal death rate up 27% since 2000.
- Food insecurity/poverty rampant in US cities.
- Opioid epidemic [heroin deaths triple in 4 years].
- Prison deaths — nearly 7,000 since ’05 in Texas alone.
- 500,000 homeless [nearly 1/4th being children].
- Militarized police and community occupations.
It is sad that the logic some would bring to the table would be to argue that the very conditions of social misery warrant ongoing attacks on civil liberties and enhanced police/political crime.
The Steve Inskeep interview with Falwell continues…
INSKEEP: In the “60 Minutes” interview the other day, Lesley Stahl said, in passing, you’re not the most humble person. And he broke in and said, I’m very humble. I’m humble in ways you’ll never understand.
FALWELL, JR.: Yeah. I’ve never seen any arrogance. I do think he is…
INSKEEP: Do you think he’s humble?
FALWELL, JR.: I do. I do. I think he’s very outspoken, and I think he is – what’s the old saying? If it’s true, it ain’t bragging.
In addition to the nation, something else is lost–a churchly witness to Christ. It is being lost because in the face of social disintegration and the rise of fascistic extremism and unbridled militarism, such alliances Trump and Falwell force upon our minds one, very simple question:
Is that the best Christians can do?