The Great Ignoble Apathy Among 21st Century People of Faith


H. Bruce Rinker

During a recent family visit, my 10-year-old nephew asked me what I thought about the current tenant of The White House. I responded, “I think he is a very mean man who is unworthy of the Office once occupied by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt.”

My nephew took a moment to reflect before he said, “I agree with you Uncle Bruce.” I continued but off to the side, trying not to be preachy with him. “The Office of the Presidency represents the leader of the Free World by setting the stage across the planet for human rights, the advancement of science the arts and environmental protection, and showing compassion for the poor, disadvantaged, and downtrodden. The President needs to possess a character above reproach. He or she does not have to be perfect, but the individual must be exemplary.”

It is my belief that the current occupant of The White House has failed regrettably on all accounts. How so?

His seeming racism toward Mexicans, Muslims, and African Americans, his misogyny his ineffectual insistence on building walls rather than bridges, his broken campaign promises to reach out to the poor (and instead his filling key positions in his administration with extremely wealthy individuals who show little sympathy for and identity with the poor and disadvantaged). His infantile . wrangling with Pope Francis. His mishandling key environmental regulations and agencies.

Moreover, his mocking people with disabilities. His disdain for sanctuary communities, a long-standing hallmark for numerous faith groups for protection against the unjust deportation and breakup of families, and his insistence on the disassembly of affordable health care.

America is the wealthiest country on the planet yet it seems we cannot provide basic coverage for ALL Americans. Yet the current occupant of The White House along with most of the so-called leadership in Congress refer cruelly to such health care plans as an entitlement.

This, by wealthy representatives who have the best heath care packages in the world paid for by American taxpayers. Is that not also entitlement? Perhaps they could offer a model to the entire Republic by forfeiting THAT package of privilege to join in goodwill with the rest of the nation, but who instead argue their narrow points from a position of grotesque privilege. How is that representation?

Inexplicably Evangelicals and other faith-based groups have been mostly silent throughout these 100+days in a dismantling of America’s kindness. Now we have entered a period in American history that I call “The Great Ignoble Apathy Among 21st Century People of Faith.” I had anticipated a loud unified resistance to countermand the embarrassing rants, tweets, threats and all the other garbled impetuosities and indiscretions sent out from the current Administration but that unified voice has yet to rise up to work against the ugly side of this particular Republican juggernaut.

Catholicism forfeited, at least in part, the magisterium of the Church in its seeming complicity with the Administration’s naiveté, even turning its back on the papal encyclical “Laudate Si” – a pre-election clarion call against human accelerated climate change and biodepletion – and the Church yielded once again to a single issue (viz. abortion) rather than the full spectrum of issues that face our great and diverse Republic.

Consequently, many church groups bankrupted their moral authority with no consistent focus on the goodness and grace of Creation and on humankind’s sustainable stewardship of Earth and Society.

How do we move forward? We simply must get this right for future generations. We employ the best science and ethics of our day. We expect compassion and brilliance from our educators, politicians and religious leaders, we reform the waywardness of evangelicals, and other narrowly focused faith groups, and we provide no more polite harbor for an ultra-right-wing agenda that does not represent the mainstream beliefs of most Americans. After all, the current occupant of The White House does not have the support of a popular vote despite his blind defiance of that truth.

Children often have an uncanny knack for seeing beyond the superficial in the adult world. “I think he is a very mean man, offered my nephew.” Uncle Bruce thinks we can do better as a Nation. Let us begin planning for the replacement for of this prickly provocateur.

Biographical Sketch: H. Bruce Rinker, Ph.D., is a forest ecologist, science-educator, and explorer who lives in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Bruce is also the founder of Bioquest Solutions LLLC, a multi-service environmental consultancy at home and abroad. Bruce may be reached at [email protected].

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