One of my Grandmothers was the daughter of a fundamentalist preacher who believed and practiced a literal interpretation of the Bible (King James, version, of course, especially the verses about tithing: Genesis 14:19-20). Though very poor in financial resources but she was rich in her faith and family). So every Sunday, she scrapped together her coins for the offering plate. She was a living messenger of the Widow’s Mite: “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.”
Each time she received a donation request from groveling evangelicals, she sealed a few dollars in the envelope and mailed it off. Later, of course, she would receive another invitation to donate and yet another. Despite our warnings that these were charlatans stealing her hard-earned savings. “I’m doing what I think is right, and the Lord knows what’s in my heart.” Poor Grandma.
Modern Christianity seems to have given up its soul to Mammon with its plague of fundamentalist televangelists who have profited from the plight of the poor by making millions to support their megachurches, dodgy nonprofits, and dubious empires. These devils include Jim and Tammy Bakker, Pat Robertson, Oral Roberts, Jerry Falwell, and even the son of Billy Graham.
What happened to the concept of evangelical poverty as lived by St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Theresa? I guess if you do the work of the Devil, then G-d should pay better! Evangelicals are shills for the conservative right frothing to give up Barabbas in exchange for the Man of Sorrows acquainted with grief.
Now, we have an impeached president charming these charlatans from their snake pits with promises to turn back some of their favorite issues such as abortion, school prayer, LGBT protections, migrants, gun rights.” All these things I will give you, if you will bow down and worship me.” He dangles a juicy worm in front of these vipers, and suddenly, they, in accord, overlook his seven deadly sins: pride, lust, gluttony, wrath, envy, and sloth; and his abysmal failure in leadership to protect and steward Creation.
T-Rump is making inroad with groups historically overlooked by his Grand Old Party of Grand Old White Men: Conservative Catholics, Asian Americans, Progressive Black Women, voters in trailer parks, convenience-store customers, and even among the homeless. His sinister shrewdness speaks loudly about his spider-web political strategy to entrap and prevaricate. Or do I grant him too many smarts? Or why isn’t the opposition circling the wagons to fortify our liberties as a defense against his perfidy?
Some of his most ardent supporters fatuously have claimed, and even demanded, during their White House prayer meetings and sectarian rallies that evangelicals have a moral obligation to back T-Rump during their White House prayer meetings. “Render to G-d and Trump.” They are like a school of puffer bellies. They pander to promote a false messiah as their graven image.
Recently, it seems that his support base is growing weary of the increasingly vulgar aspects of #45 and of their continuous defense of the indefensible. Founded by Billy Graham, the top evangelical magazine, Christianity Today, has split with Donald Trump on what it called his “grossly and immoral character.” Of course, T-Rump denounced the criticism as unfair and out-of-touch. What a whiner! “Ye shall know them by their fruits,” (Matthew7:16-20).
Some might claim that my Grandmother was naive as she lived out her faith but she remained true to herself and to G-d. Yet with her pittance, she managed to run a farm and to raise nine children and she quickly became the matriarch of a clan that filled rooms during the holidays with laughter and storytelling. Through it all, we knew Grandma loved us and honored our differences. If my Grandma could multiply her fishes and loaves to feed her multitudes with her inexhaustible generosity, then these false preachers could effect similar miracles in a world that hungers for the love of Christ.
However, in spite of all the politicians and pundits who have twisted religion into dark icons, I still have hope that good will prevail. The messy stuff may be necessary for our growth in a democracy. The Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn; teaches, “No Mud, No Lotus.” Let’s sling mud with love in our hearts and make the world a better place!
H. Bruce Rinker, Ph.D. is a forest ecologist, science educator, and explorer. He is also the author of “A Pearl in the Brain: The Cancer Journey of a Scientist in His Search for the Seat of the Soul.” He may be reached at [email protected].