Friday, February 19, 2016

The Pope and the Donald


I happened to be at home getting some home repair work done yesterday when the news broke on CNN: “Pope Says Trump Is Not Christian.” The coverage that ensued got crazier and crazier. In fact, I haven't laughed so much at the news since John Stewart left The Daily Show.  

While the news people were talking about what Pope Francis had said about building walls instead of bridges in response to an immigration question while in Mexico, the news went live to a Trump gathering where the Donald was responding to the Pope's comments. It came across as, "Oh so the Pope it talking about ME? (swagger, swagger). Well let me tell ya, for a religious leader to question someone's faith is disgraceful!"

It's not like others have not questioned the Donald's faith, wondering if he is just pandering to the voters, since faith had never seemed to me an important issue with him before. Early on, when he said the Bible was his favorite book next to his own, some news journalists asked what particular scriptures were his favorite, he said, "I wouldn't want to get into it because to me that's very personal them all. The Bible means a lot to me, but I don't want to get into specifics." And of course there was the hilarious quoting of "Two Corinthians" when he spoke at Liberty University. 

I should add that to me, it sounded like the Pope, in responding to the question of a proposed wall along the border, was explaining that that kind of action would not be Christian. Some of the context may have been lost in translation, but it is not the first time that a pope has called out a nation’s practice as being contrary to the Christian faith (that is sort of what pope’s do in their pastoral role). John Paul II called out the US on economic policies that do not reflect Christian values and in the same vein spoke out against capital punishment.  One could also point out that Bernie Sanders has some policies that do reflect Christian values, but that does not mean he is a Christian (he in fact is Jewish). I do not see it as a matter of judging a person, but rather a matter of judging a policy.  

The Donald Does Not See Himself in the White House

Donald Trump tipped his hand by his choice of words while he was responding to the Pope's comments. He does not really expect to make it to the White House. He said that “if and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President because this would not have happened." That sounds like someone who does not expect to be in the White House. You heard it here first. It will be just as well for Mr. Trump, though. He can continue to say things like, "That would not have happened if I had been President!" I think he will like that just fine.

Then the anchor went to Jerry Falwell, Jr. for his response. The junior is not as impressive a speaker as his dad, but he discounted the Pope remarks because Jesus said religious leaders were a bunch of hypocrites (he didn't seem to notice that he was being interviewed because he himself is a religious leader). Falwell was also quite displeased that the Pope is trying to get countries to act more Christian when Jesus, in Falwell's view, just wanted individuals to be charitable and let to just let the Romans handle all the government stuff. So suddenly, The Rev. Falwell, Jr. thinks that Christian beliefs have no place in the U.S. government? Well that should save him and his ilk lots of time formerly spent advocating for prayer in schools and ending abortion.

Between the anchor trying to explain what the Pope said, Trump's comments and Falwell's comments, I was rolling with laughter. What can I say, they were filling air time. If you wrote a screen play like this for the movies, critics would say, "That would never happen in the real world!"


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