A Reflection of my Religion in 2020
I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church in Reno, Nevada around women that wore hats and skirts and men that wore suits. With my family spread across the West Coast I frequently visited Los Angeles and attended church services at a Baptist Church & School my family is heavily involved with. For a long time I failed to notice the influence this all had on me; things many people consider normal are things I would ask forgiveness for — I thought that I was going to go to Hell as I went through puberty, and for all of these normal, teenage experiences. I lived my life in fear. When I went to college and moved out my faith was challenged every day. Every single day there were things that happened that would swing me in one direction or another.
In college I took an academic Bible as Literature class. I didn’t know what to expect, but found myself reading different translations from different eras and different countries. I found myself learning Hebrew and Greek to help decipher Hebrew and Greek words and phrases with controversial translations. I remember researching the group of people who chose what books and things to include in the Bible, and what things to leave out. For a book of the Holy Word of God, it sure had a lot of politics and human intervention to make it what it is today.
For the first time ever I had read the entire Bible in multiple translations, in addition to supporting and detracting materials that all came from the same time and place, and sometimes the same people. My whole life up to that point I had only read cherry-picked statements that were convenient to support a pastor’s lesson or opinion — everything was always out of context. After this class I started to notice pastors and church leaders I had come to respect were less interested in what the Bible told them their role was, and more interested in becoming like Joel Olsteen or Jerry Falwell Jr.: celebrity pastors. Pastors were less interested in what the Bible said, and more interested in their own opinions and finding ways to twist the Bible to fit their narrative.
Let me make this clear: I have no problem with televised or streamed church services, but I do have a problem with celebrity pastors; using church funds for houses and cars and private jets. It’s wrong, but it is happening every day with churches in this country.
After years and years and years, I have come to find myself disassociating from Christianity and local churches because I have seen a pattern of pastors that want the fame of Joel Olsteen, and that fame is their goal in life; their goal is numbers based — quantity over quality.
Enter: Election 2020.
I grew up a Right Wing Christian-Republican and to this day most of my family members are still Republican. My grandmother, whom I adored, was the President of the Republican Roundtable and helped Republicans get elected to State and Federal offices. My wife and I still have an engraved plate from the U.S. House of Representatives with her name on it. Today I am no longer a registered Republican because the party has strayed so far from what it used to be.
I see fans of Donald Trump routinely wearing vintage or newly printed Ronald Reagan campaign material. The truth is I don’t thing Reagan would get along with Trump, just as John McCain didn’t. If Reagan and McCain were alive today I honestly think they would’ve voted for Joe Biden. I don’t consider them extremists.
One of my cousins posted video of a Pro-Trump march in Southern California and I saw lots of signs that said things like, “God Bless Trump,” and “Jesus,” etc.. I think about the Republican anti-abortion doctrine that is lead by Christian-Republicans. I think about what the Republican Party stands for, what it used to stand for, and who Donald Trump is.
With all these things considered, I can very comfortably say that, in my opinion, Donald Trump is not a Christian.
I saw another family member posting about alleged voter fraud and that they were “praying” Trump wins reelection. They talked about trials and tribulations that Hebrews experienced, and compared it to what Trump is going through, all while calling the Democrats wicked and vile. The truth is, I don’t know much, but I know enough to ask, “What if we have been fooled? What if Trump is the very wicked and vile thing we’re supposed to eject?”
I am against cherry-picking Bible verses, so I won’t, but I will recommend that before anyone quotes a cherry-picked Bible verse, they read the whole book. The context is important. It is both possible to justify slavery, and to justify freedom through cherry-picked Bible verses. It is possible to justify religious extremism, and to justify being against religious extremism through cherry-picked Bible verses.
We have to remember, no matter what you believe, the Bible and its composition and its respective translations are tinted by politics of the time it was translated and edited, and the opinions of the people that brought it together into one book. The teaching of the Bible is tinted by the pastor and the teachers; I never knew about the Song of Solomon until college, and it is a truly wonderful piece of literature!
What I am trying to say is, my beliefs are that the Bible preaches love and acceptance, loving your neighbor and your enemy, and helping those in need. Donald Trump stands for none of those things. Donald Trump preaches division, and hate. He preaches like he is some sort of savior of America when in reality all he is is a fraud. Look at his actions, his extramarital affairs, his business dealings. If he is a Christian, then everyone who volunteers at the ASPCA is on their way to Sainthood.
If you identify as a Christian and support Donald Trump, I really recommend sitting down and reading the Bible. I am not saying you should change your beliefs because I say so or because I disagree with you, but I believe you should get the full context of the Bible. True understanding is power.
And that understanding lead me to not only disassociate from churches with misguided leadership and Christianity as a whole, but to vote for Joe Biden.
Keep the Faith — Hunter Rand