Mr. Trump, Evangelical Christians, and the Central Park 5

14With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says:
“You will indeed listen, but never understand,
   and you will indeed look, but never perceive. 
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
   and their ears are hard of hearing,
     and they have shut their eyes;
     so that they might not look with their eyes,
   and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn—
   and I would heal them.” 
16But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.17Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

Matthew 13:14-17Whe

During my recent three-week vacation during the second half of June and into July, it took a bit of time to get accustomed to much less than normal access to news. My husband and I were on a ship exploring the islands off of Scotland, and then hiking part of the Speyside Way. For various reasons, news was often hard to come by. At first it was strange not to begin my day by reviewing several newspapers. Then, I discovered that I liked not knowing what was going on.

But, one piece of news managed to pierce the bubble, and that piece of news lodged itself in my brain. It didn’t appear to be a big piece of news, yet I found myself thinking about it over and over again: the Central Park Five and Donald Trump’s refusal to reflect even for the briefest of moments on his stance regarding this clear case of injustice. This was not only yet another moment of despair regarding the current President, but also one of those places where I was filled with profound anger and hopelessness for the silence of the evangelical Christian community.

If Donald Trump had had his way back in 1989, those young men would have been put to death—for a crime they did not commit. Shouldn’t such a story demand something of any faithful Christian—confession, grief, sorrow, a desire seek reconciliation, a promise to at least try to do better?

While the President makes me angry just about every day, and multiple times on many days, I continue to be especially perplexed and troubled by those evangelical Christians who support the President with such vehemence even in the midst of his wantonly un-Christian attitude and behavior. The case of the Central Park 5, brought back into our consciousness by the recent Netflix mini-series, When They See Us, is yet one more example of the President’s problematic perspective that should not be ignored by evangelical Christians.

The case of the Central Park 5 ought to inspire at least a bit of reflection—individually and collectively. Especially for Christians who speak the language of love, justice, hope, and reconciliation, it is vital to spend a moment considering this terrible episode, what led so many to assume guilt on the part of those young black men, the rush to judgment and then the stubborn inability to learn important and significant lessons once the truth finally became clear.

It is hard for me to accept that evangelical Christians will just heave this incident onto the now very large pile of un-Christian actions of the current President. That the President doesn’t even seem to accept the truth, claiming that the men “admitted their guilt,” is profoundly troubling (see story here). Such an attitude should simply be unacceptable to any person who claims to be Christian.

I have offered my plea in the past, begging evangelical Christians to demand more, and better, from this President. Not that I’m expecting any evangelical Christians to be reading this blog, but I’m not the only one who has pointed out these issues and problems in the relationship between basic tenets of Christianity and President Trump. Or, more precisely, the lack of relationship between basic tenets of Christianity and Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump may be acting in ways that are and will be politically expedient for him and his hope for re-election. And, perhaps evangelical Christians are willing to turn a blind eye in favor of what they see as a path to greater and grander things. But, in that turning away, they are actually turning away from their faith in significant ways, allowing their hearts to grow dull.  The path to greater and grander things actually lies in the opening of our eyes, our ears and our hearts.  That is where there is understanding, healing, and the love that Christ promises.

About smaxreisert

I'm a United Church of Christ pastor serving the small, faithful Old South Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Hallowell, Maine. I was ordained in Massachusetts in 1995, moved to Maine in 1997 and have served the Hallowell church since 2005.
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1 Response to Mr. Trump, Evangelical Christians, and the Central Park 5

  1. Alexandra says:

    I wanted to thank you for your posts and for making me aware of this in particular. I have no idea how I missed this, especially as the repeated incarceration and execution of innocent people in this county is one of my BIG issues… This certainly adds additional horrifying background to the horrible mess we’re currently living/enduring. Thank you for being a voice in this wilderness–I just realized your blog title again, and so thank you for that as well… For hope in this bleak wilderness!

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