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We need a values revolution in America

Reverend Dr. William J. Barber, II (President, Repairers of the Breach) | 10/19/2017, 6:26 p.m.
On Friday, October 13, Donald Trump went before the annual Values Voter Summit hosted by the Family Research Council and ...
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II says that President Trump has brought about a devolution of values, not a revolution of values. Photo taken during an NNPA rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 2015. (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA)

Jeremiah 22:1-3,4-5 The Message (MSG)

“Walking Out on the Covenant of God”

22 1-3 God’s orders: “Go to the royal palace and deliver this Message. Say, ‘Listen to what God says, O King of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you and your officials and all the people who go in and out of these palace gates. This is God’s Message: Attend to matters of justice. Set things right between people. Rescue victims from their exploiters. Don’t take advantage of the homeless, the orphans, the widows. Stop the murdering!

4-5 “‘If you obey these commands, then kings who follow in the line of David will continue to go in and out of these palace gates mounted on horses and riding in chariots—they and their officials and the citizens of Judah. But if you don’t obey these commands, then I swear—God’s Decree!—this palace will end up a heap of rubble.’”

On Friday, October 13, Donald Trump went before the annual Values Voter Summit hosted by the Family Research Council and declared America “a country that never forgets that we are made, all of us, by the very same God in heaven.” In the name of Jesus, Trump vowed to “stop cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values,” but the Values Voter Summit no more represents Jesus than did the church authorities that backed slavery.

Ironically, Trump invoked the name of Jesus in virtually the same breath that he announced his executive order to stop the federal government’s cost sharing reduction payments, which subsidize healthcare for lower-income families under the Affordable Care Act. Throughout the Scriptures, virtually every story of Jesus admonishes us to see to the needs of the poor and vulnerable among us, but Trump vowed at the Values Voter Summit to defend those who use religion to discriminate.

The Christian nationalists Trump has emboldened do not follow the Jesus I know and preach. Their values are not Christ, but cash; not grace, but greed. As the Princeton historian Kevin Kruse has chronicled in his book, “One Nation Under God,” they are the heirs of preachers, who were purchased by the robber barons of the early 20th century to resist the New Deal and the Social Gospel. During the Civil Rights Movement, they spoke against Rabbi Abraham Heschel and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

These Christian nationalists contradict Jesus, who said that, “as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.” They serve only the interests of the wealthiest Americans and take every opportunity to deny any provision of care or encouragement to the poor.

They have elected far-right extremists in the country’s legislatures, who have become paid puppets of a White supremacist corporate oligarchy. Elected with the support of wealthy despots, these men (and a few women) pass voter suppression laws that make them accountable to the voters. These peddlers of piety deliver huge tax cuts for the super-rich, permit corporations to spew poison into the environment, and fund a military budget so enormous and sacrosanct, that American citizens are no longer even welcome to know what that budget is. All of this in the name of the Prince of Peace.