By Alejandra Pena
White wrinkled hands press on the back of an aged man. The men and women surrounding him are all white and affluent. Their suits are tailored. Their fingers adorned. Their hands clean and manicured.
The white men have their eyes closed in prayer. One is smiling, and another has his brows furrowed with his palm raised as if to propel the Holy Spirit. This image, tweeted on July 11 by the evangelical Johnnie Moore, spread quickly through cyberspace. Christian Trump supporters celebrated.
Finally, they had a president who puts God first and advocates for prayer in public schools. Donald Trump was declared a beacon of light for our bleak, perilous times.
However, any sentence proclaiming Donald Trump a Christian is an antithesis. Donald Trump loves Jesus as much as he loves losing. The Gospel does not align with his or his self-proclaimed Christian supporters’ conservative agenda.
Christianity has been on a decline. For example, 86 percent of American adults considered themselves Christians in 1990, while only 71 percent did in 2008. Our society has changed drastically since 1990. Gay marriage is legal and widely accepted. Roe vs. Wade is still federal law. So, it is not a coincidence that our ever-progressive society is rejecting the church when the poster boys for Christianity are men like Donald Trump: affluent bigots and misogynists. They reject science, refugees, equality and social justice.
In the 2016 presidential election, 60 percent of Christian voters confirmed their support for Trump in the voting booths. But why are most Evangelicals so easily drawn to a man whose political ideals are the opposite of Jesus’ teachings if it was Jesus of Nazareth who fed the poor, damned the rich, healed the sick and befriended prostitutes, thieves and those who wanted him dead?
Jesus practiced radical love and politics, so much so that it led to his crucifixion. The Gospel at its core is about giving power and a voice to those who have none. However, the Jesus of the Bible does not fit the Republican agenda, so instead many Evangelicals use hate to separate themselves from those who differ from them because that is much easier than striving for peace and justice.
Striving towards universal peace and justice means having uncomfortable conversations about sex, gender, war, capitalism, privilege, racism, poverty and making the decision as followers of Christ to be as giving and as loving as possible to those less privileged like he commanded us to do.
The Gospel is intimidating because the love and acceptance mentioned in the Bible is unconditional. Follower of Christ are not only commanded to love their neighbors despite their differences, they are told to love those very differences as well.
It is much easier for privileged men like Donald Trump and Paul Ryan to condemn those who do not fit the status quo rather than love them because love requires effort, understanding, patience and empathy. Love often leads to martyrdom and sacrifice. This is something that they have never done. Something that they flat out refuse to do.
Jesus does not exist in the Republican Party, nor will he ever.
Instead, Jesus exists underneath bridges where the homeless sleep. He exists in the hospital bed next to a gay man dying of AIDS. He exists in the heels of a woman running across the border with a child on her shoulders.
Jesus exists in the calloused hands of a field worker, in the afro of a protester, in the smile of a panhandler, in the protruding ribs of a refugee child. Jesus exists as the voice for those who have none. Jesus liberates. Jesus fights for justice.
Jesus is anything but conservative.
—Alejandra Pena is a reporter and English major