I will begin by saying that I have been called a heretic many times over the years for some of the views I hold about Scripture. For example, I do not believe that Jesus’s mission was planned so He could die and then get resurrected. That has never made sense to me; that God would become human and then allow God’s self to get murdered? Be honest – this makes no sense. I think Jesus came to start the Kingdom of God (which He did) but got murdered by the Roman Empire before He could finish it (in collusion with a few Jewish leaders). God responded by raising Him from the dead. If that is heresy, so be it; I embrace the term (which only means different thinking) boldly. In fact, I welcome other heretics – as long as their ideas are based in Scripture and make sense.
Yesterday, however, I read about a real heretic – with a capital H. His name is Mark Burns, and Newsweek reported on the speech he gave at the Reawaken America Tour last week. He not only called America to a holy war against what he calls the “transgender agenda”, he reinterpreted one of Jesus’s most peaceful, yet subversive sayings in an incredibly perverse way. He believes that when Jesus told people to “turn the other cheek” when they were hit in the face, what He meant was that you, once hit, needed to hit back. He called on “christians” to use violence to not only Christianize America but to make sure Donald Trump becomes president again. Another false preacher (Leon Benjamin) called Mr. Trump “ordained by God” to be president. This tour also included Michael Flynn and a number of conspiracy theorists like the Pillow Guy. A couple of scheduled speakers who are Nazi sympathizers were removed at the last minute.
I don’t care if you are a Pastafarian (it’s actually kind of fun!). I respect your religion and like to hear about what you believe. But in the same vein as the Beatle’s “Revolution”, if you talk about destruction, you can count me out. Burn’s interpretation is a complete dismantling and perversion of the message of Jesus and a prime example of the danger of Christian Nationalism. And to be clear, it is wrong to think of any elected official as being put in office by God. I know what the Bible says about it, but I believe that was put there to keep this very thing from happening. It did happen eventually, by the way, with the evil doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings. The only King any follower of Jesus has is Jesus. All other leaders; political, religious, or otherwise, are as flawed as the rest of us.
Any religion that uses violence to get what it wants is a false religion. Any person who says they follow Jesus but buys into Christian Nationalism isn’t serving Him. Any voter who votes for specific candidates because they think God told them to is delusional. Of course, we should use our faith to guide our vote; I do it all the time. My faith, however, tells me to do what is best for the common good, for the country, and for the least among us. God sent Jesus for the oppressed, not the oppressor. I hope someone tells these heretics about their mistakes soon before they destroy all of us. And if you want a better community, state, and country, vote tomorrow. It matters.
Prayer – Help us, God of community, to create a nation that honors all people, not just a few groups. Amen.