De Democratische presidentskandidaat Pete Buttigieg trok afgelopen weekend het geloof in God van president Trump in twijfel. Ook bekritiseerde hij de schijnheiligheid van Trumps evangelische supporters. Op de FB-pagina van Christian Headlines bij het artikel ‘Evangelicals Are Hypocrites for Supporting Trump, Democratic Candidate Says’ plaatste ik onderstaande reactie. Zie hieronder bij reacties voor de Nederlandse vertaling.
The mistake that American politicians make is that they mix church and state. This is not the case in Western European countries. Some politicians there are religious, but they keep that to themselves and they don’t use it as marketing in their political career.
You could only wonder why American politicians are so explicitly showing off their beliefs. Why do they think that is necessary? What kind of mechanism is at work here?
This makes it difficult to criticize President Trump’s religion. Because he has the right to practice his personal faith. It is not decent to criticize this in the public domain because the personal faith belongs to the personal domain.
The condition for criticism is that a politician does not explicitly use his personal faith – or whatever goes for it – for political goals. Because then it ceases to belong to the personal domain and passes to the political domain. In that case, political opponents can say something about it in public.
President Trump clearly seems to have crossed this border. His background and testimony gives no reason to assume that he has a deep personal faith. Let alone that he wants to keep that for himself and his family. For political and electoral purposes, he expresses a picture of faith and Christian conviction with which he provokes a reaction.
President Trump may therefore be criticized for political reasons for marketing his religious beliefs.
On top of that comes the responsibility of the believers themselves. Just as Muslims in Islam nations are asked to speak out about Islamist fundamentalists who hijack Islam, the same can be asked of Christians in the US if it appears that Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals with Trump as political foreman hijack their faith.
That is the case in the US. The Christian faith has been hijacked by Trump and the racicals who use it for their populist, nationalist and conservative agenda. Critics as religious scientist Reza Aslan even speak of a cult led by guru Trump in which all balance, opposing power and dialogue have been silenced.
With the caveat that within the same election cycle these white, masculine, conservative evangelicals were first the group that it was most likely would claim that a politician’s ethics mattered, whereas this is now the group that is most likely to it says the ethics of a politician does not matter.
It depends on the personal circumstances, the political color and the personal ambition and courage how a Christian responds to the hijacking of his faith by Trump and the white, conservative, male evangelicals. These religious leaders usually lead major religious, commercial organizations whose main goal is to make a profit. They are not only politically and “mentally” linked to Trump, but also economically.
Pete Buttigieg himself has a long background as a professing Anglican who is a member of the Episcopal Church. It is indicative of the low level of American politics and the unwanted expansion of the faith into the public domain that a debate is emerging about this. It is unclear whether Buttigieg responds to Trump and the evangelicals because of his political ambitions or because of his own personal faith.
But it doesn’t really matter. That Buttigieg reacts is defensible. It cannot be that Trump can address anyone to belief or conviction and, for political-electoral reasons, knows how to win over white, conservative evangelicals with impunity. Without getting any response in the public domain. When Trump externalizes his faith, he evokes the reaction about himself and his evangelical sycophants.
It is high time for US Christians to reclaim their faith from the hands of the would-be believers who hijacked it for political and commercial purposes. Without a response, they hand over their faith to the modern Philistines.
Foto: Schermafbeelding van deel artikel ‘Evangelicals Are Hypocrites for Supporting Trump, Democratic Candidate Says’ van Michael Foust op Christian Headlines, 8 april 2019.