So, two Corinthians and a porn star walk into a bar ...
Stop me if you’ve heard this one.
During a recent TV interview, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, a mega-church pastor from Dallas, declared that he didn’t give two shekels, so to speak, about revelations the president had an affair with a porn star then paid her $130,000 right before the 2016 election to keep quiet.
It was in keeping with some evangelicals’ (mostly men) carte blanche defense of Trump’s uncharitable behavior and statements — from the “Access Hollywood” scandal to his constant name-calling and bullying on Twitter as president of the United States.
But it isn’t in keeping with Christianity’s roots as a trouble-making, world-shaking faith that is supposed to challenge rulers not enable them.
If you’ve positioned yourself as a religious leader, isn’t your first obligation to that which you espouse?
Miracle of mulligans
Because some evangelicals have convinced themselves that Trump shares their values, he’s gotten mulligans that seem to multiply like loaves and fishes.
The same people who would have stoned Barack Obama in his tan suit had he paid a porn actress hush money didn’t blink or blanch at Trump’s declaration during the campaign that he has not necessarily felt the need to ask God for forgiveness — the very foundation of the faith.
But it really isn’t about Donald Trump. He is who he is, and we’re all hypocrites in some measure or another.
The difference is most of us know it.
The larger problem is an unwillingness of some religious leaders to do what they’re being paid for, namely to tell the truth “though the heavens fall.”
But truth gets us pushed outside of the tent. Saying that habitual lying is wrong, no matter who does it, is not how you get invited back to the Oval Office.
Such willful blindness instead has been couched in a victim mentality by which some Christians have convinced themselves the church is being attacked because of their beliefs.
And it isn’t only Christians. While it is tempting to relegate Minister Louis Farrakhan to “Grandpa Simpson yells at cloud” status, his creaky anti-Semitism and ridiculous claims that Jews secretly run the FBI can’t be ignored, not when words can encircle the world in a click.
Such demagoguery puts people in harm’s way.
The first Christians, by the way, weren’t martyred because they believed in Jesus. The Roman Empire included hundreds of deities; they couldn’t have cared less. The early church was attacked and martyred because its members publicly declared their first allegiance was to Jesus, not to Caesar.
Loved after death
That meant telling the empire the truth about itself, its injustices, abuses and greed, and its subjugation of weaker nations and their people.
It’s what real prophets do, and why no one likes them.
Jesus himself is proof that everyone loves you once you’re dead. In life, his most ardent followers were the poor and powerless, not the religious leaders who had everything to lose.
For every Christian celebrity like the Rev. Paula White and Jerry Falwell, there are millions of clergy who never will be featured on cable news nor do lunch at Mar-A-Lago. They are overworked and underpaid, and news about their good works rarely makes it beyond the neighborhoods and parishes they serve.
Some people are floating the theory the Rev. Billy Graham’s death was a prophetic sign, though his being 99 more likely had something to do with it.
Lost in all the accolades were Graham’s regrets over keeping quiet during the civil rights movement and for involving himself in politics.
If Graham’s death was indeed a sign, it appears he got out just in time.
Reach Charita M. Goshay at 330-580-8313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.