I don’t know when it started. Probably in the mid-Twentieth Century. It’s now sweeping across America like wildfire and has reached a level of hysteria reminiscent of the Nazi rallies of 80 years ago.
I believe it’s linked to idolatry, pure and simple. Since the leader of a nation is more visible and present than the invisible God, it’s human nature for men and women to bow to an earthly hero who represents power and prestige. Especially if that leader promises a return to a nation’s “glorious” past that, in fact, never existed.
That’s where we are currently. Evangelical Christians have forgotten that their primary allegiance is to the Kingdom of God that Jesus came to proclaim. This reign of the Almighty is both local and global, present and future. It’s theme is captured in the words of the prayer we know best, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” When we bow and speak those words, we are submitting ourselves to our true Sovereign, whose rule over our lives must mark us with love, compassion, and a thirst for justice.
For some reason, our nation once adopted a self-appraisal called “American exceptionalism.” It might have started in the 1800’s, when the call of “Manifest Destiny” led our leaders, including those who preached from our pulpits, to proclaim that God was “on our side” and had ordained that the United States was destined to stretch “from sea to shining sea.” This meant, of course, that those who were already on the land would have to be relocated or exterminated.
Back to the present, this arrogance has found a home in the religion of many mostly Caucasian believers. Just as Adolph Hitler rallied the church around his reverence for “The Fatherland,” so Donald Trump has deluded many otherwise sane people into believing that he is the “Chosen One” to save America and to restore Christianity to its rightful place of dominance in our culture. The outcome, according to those who interpret scriptural prophecy in a bizarre way, will be the establishment of a theocracy, where only followers of Christ will rule. And where other religions and those of “liberal” political and social worldviews will be exiled to the margins.
This is an outrageous misapplication of the faith of the prophets, patriarchs, apostles, and even our Lord Himself. He never once marched on Rome, or Jerusalem for that matter. He subjected Himself to Roman authority, as did the Apostle Paul as he traveled the Mediterranean world sharing the “Good News” of the arrival of the Kingdom in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
The Christofascists (my word) are in their ascendance, and that is frightening to those of us who believe that faith should never partner with the power of the state. Throughout history, whenever that has happened, the government ends up controlling the religion. Christians in these days would do well to remember that the religion that Jesus gave us was never intended to be in the majority. In fact, another glance through history reveals that the closer to power we come, the weaker becomes our influence to effect change. Our purpose is not to side with the powerful, but with the weak. That was the primary message of the prophets and of our Lord Himself.
So we resist those who are dancing with delight that they’ve found a champion in perhaps the most immoral man to ever occupy the White House. We cringe when we hear the “court evangelicals” who grasp at Trump’s coattails yammer for God to bless and bring success to a man who is chortling to himself at these sycophants who see him as their savior.
Those of us who follow the only true Savior will pray for our deceived brothers and sisters, while resisting an agenda that baptizes cruel, inhumane, and warlike behavior. We bow at the feet of the only One whose power is eternal.