I did not watch yesterday’s coverage of the first day of the Republican National Convention. I will not watch today’s coverage or any coverage of this convention or the Democratic National Convention. I did read through some of the transcripts of various speeches and found very little that was original, inspiring, or confidence-building. Was I surprised by this? Not in the least.
I did find something appalling, however—the benediction. We should really call it a ‘closing prayer’ because it was not a benediction per se but a prayer. So, I guess the first strike against Pastor Mark Burns is that he doesn’t know the difference between these two historic aspects of Christian worship...but that’s fine, because his prayer clearly shows the absolute worst aspects of American Christianity all wrapped up in one nice, tidy abomination of a ‘prayer.’
But before I get too critical, let us let Pastor Burns speak for himself:
HELLO, REPUBLICANS! I'M PASTOR MARK BURNS FROM THE GREAT STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA! [APPLAUSE] I'M GOING TO PRAY AND GOING TO GIVE THE BENEDICTION. YOU KNOW WHY? BECAUSE WE ARE ELECTING A MAN IN DONALD TRUMP WHO BELIEVES IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST. [APPLAUSE] WE GOT TO BE UNITED BECAUSE OUR ENEMY IS NOT A REPUBLICAN, BUT IT IS HILLARY CLINTON AND THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY! __[APPLAUSE] LET'S PRAY TOGETHER. FOR GOD IN THE NAME OF JESUS, LORD, WE ARE SO THANKFUL FOR THE LIGHT OF DONALD TRUMP. __WE'RE THANKFUL THAT YOU ARE GUIDING HIM. YOU'VE GIVING HIM THE WORDS TO UNITE THIS PARTY, THIS COUNTRY THAT WE TOGETHER CAN DEFEAT THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY TO KEEP US DIVIDED AND NOT UNITED, BECAUSE WE ARE THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. WE ARE THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY UNDER GOD TO DEFEAT EVERY ATTACK THAT COMES AGAINST US. PROTECT THE LIFE OF DONALD TRUMP. GIVE HIM THE WORDS, THE PEACE, THE POWER AND AUTHORITY TO BE THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. IN JESUS' NAME, IF YOU BELIEVE IT, SHOUT "AMEN!"
Sigh. Where to begin.
“We are electing a man in Donald Trump who believes in the name of Jesus Christ.” Well. Maybe. Like most of us, I’ve never met Mr. Trump, but I am more that a little suspicious of his incredibly-conveniently-timed “relationship with Christ” that Dobson and others from the recent Evangelical-Trump love in have come touting as a sure-fire reason to back him. Now, I sure hope Trump is a sincere Christian believer, but the timing is a bit too perfect for me to not be cynical about. Are we that gullible? No, really?
“Our enemy is not a Republican, but it is Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party!” Now I’m no fan of Hillary, but to suggest that the Democratic party is part and parcel the enemy of Christianity is ridiculous. Democrats are no more enemies of Christianity than are Republicans. BOTH parties support agendas that fly in the face of the Christian faith. Seriously.
“We’re thankful that You are guiding him...” blah, blah, blah. Really? Does Pastor Burns somehow have inside knowledge that God is without a doubt guiding Donald Trump and that only “together” (i.e., God and Trump) can America once again become united? This is drivel at its worst...or pretty close to it.
For too long, being a theologically-conservative American Christian has been equated with being a Republican—despite the fact that the GOP has routinely played Evangelical Christians like a fiddle to get votes and then done things (even with loud shouts of affirmation from Christians) that would surely make God cringe.
Here’s a counter thought:
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. (Ps 146.2, ESV)
Trump is a disappointment as a candidate. He will be as a President. The same is true for Clinton. It’s time we Christians get over our lust for political, worldly power and put our trust in the right place.