President Trump’s Ban on Muslim Refugees in the United States and the Evangelical Response

President Trump’s Ban on Muslim Refugees in the United States and the Evangelical Response

The major crises of American Evangelicalism in the twenty-first century in regard to the American-Islamic relations can be summarized succinctly in three ways: (1) the Evangelical turn to political idolatry, (2) the crisis of (Evangelical) conscience, and (3) Evangelical resistance to express genuine biblical empathy and generous caring hospitality toward those who are suffering and oppressed.  These three important factors are vital to get a better understanding of the Evangelical response to President Trump’s Ban on Muslim Refugees. How have American Evangelicals reacted to this this executive order? Below, we have identified three ways that articulate the attitude of American Evangelicals toward possible Muslim Refugees in the United States and their response to President Trump’s recent executive order of The Ban.

  1. Evangelicals for The Ban (Political American Evangelicalism): This group of American evangelicals is obsessed with political power and dominance. They believe in the expansion of the kingdom of God through active engagement in politics, and therefore cultural and political hegemony is a necessary means to achieve this Evangelical objective. Because Islam is the second largest and growing religion in the world, it is therefore perceived as a threat to the growth and expansion of Christianity in the world, especially in American and Western societies.  This group also fears the possible loss of religious and political power, the inevitable long-range impact of Islam in the American society, and correspondingly, the wide range of effects of Islamic ideals on American ideals and American way of life. In other words, the rapid spread of Islam and Islamic culture in American and Western societies and beyond has become a crucial alarming moment for the evangelicals belonging to this category. This Evangelical group supports President Trump’s Ban on Muslim Refugees in the United States because the members of this group categorically equate these potential Muslims refugees as prospective Muslim terrorist groups who will harm America and alter the American way of life through their religion, cultural traditions and practices, and language.
  1. Evangelicals for Muslim Evangelization: This group of American Evangelicals categorically rejects President Trump’s Ban on Muslim Refugees in the United States. They interpret Trump’s executive order as a precarious threat to Christian evangelization to Muslims and as a disastrous hindrance to Christian mission in Muslim countries. This group of American Evangelicals holds that Muslims are heathens who need to be saved from their devilish religion and detrimental Islamic civilization. The evangelistic zeal of this group is not prompted by the biblical imperative to love the stranger and the non-Christian or is it motivated by the scriptural mandate to exercise sincere empathy and caring hospitality toward the Muslims; rather, their evangelistic outreach is without the challenging demands of the cross of Christ and devoid of the rigorous ethical teachings and practices of the Gospel.
  1. Evangelicals for Muslim Friendship: This group of American Evangelicals interprets President Trump’s Ban on Muslim Refugees in the United States as unwarranted,unconstitutional, discriminatory, and as a human rights violation. While their support of Muslim refugees to immigrate to the United States, they still desire to maintain the hegemony of religion (Christianity) in the public sphere and strongly encourage Muslim assimilation into Western values and American way of life.  This group of individuals do not see potential Muslim Refugees as a possible menace to American democracy and progress nor do they place all Muslims in the same basket—such as radical religious zealots under the influence of radical Islam; however, they do fear that the ensuing full integration of Islam and Islamic culture in the American life and experience will eventually lead to the fragmentation of Christianity and Christian values in the American society.

 

La Pensée du Jour: Cling to Christ!

La Pensée du Jour: Following Jesus

Do not follow Jesus at a distance; walk near him and never let go. Cling to Christ!

*What I wrote above should not be taken literally. It is a rhetoric of christian spirituality and devoted or genuine discipleship. Nonetheless, being a follower or disciple of Christ entails living a radically transformative life that woes people to Jesus to do the same. Following Jesus in this violent and uncertain world is an alternative living that also involves a high level of active self-denial, sacrifice, serving and loving people unconditionally, and treating them with respect and dignity.

The Message of Jesus and Political-Bourgeois American Christianity

The Message of Jesus and Political-Bourgeois American Christianity

If the Gospel of Jesus Christ is Good News for all and indeed Good news for the poor, it must also be Good News for all refugees and for all people in the world, not just for Christian refugees and the Christian poor. The message of the Gospel transcends religion, ethnicity, class, race, and gender. American bourgeois Christianity is a dead and soulless religion; it is the antithesis of true and biblical Christianity. Lifeless Christianity (American political-bourgeois Christianity) is not sacrificial, loving, empathetic, compassionate, relational, and Jesus-centered.

A Christianity that turns itself from the poor, the immigrant, the homeless, the orphan, the widows, and the refugee is a dead faith.

A Christianity that chooses to close its eyes to the most crucial problems of the modern world and the most critical problems– global poverty, immigration crisis, refugees crisis, women’s rights, labor exploitation, political corruption, local and global oppression, local and global racism, hunger, etc. — in the society in which it is lived and practiced is a religion that is not worth practicing and saving.

A Christianity that ignores the message and Gospel of Jesus Christ is an anti-Christ faith.

A Christianity that evangelizes strategically in order to (neo) colonize, rule, and exploit the weak betrays the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

A Christianity that exploits its principles for deceit and ruse is a soulless religion.

Contemporary (political-bourgeois) American Christianity is unable to transform the human condition and solve its most crucial problems in modern times. It is a religious enterprise that is rooted in collective hypocrisy, ethnocentrism, egocentrism, and deceitful philanthropy.

*We need to decenter political Christianity not Jesus Christ. The Biblical Jesus is a different figure than the cultural, political, and white (American & Western) Jesus. He is certainly not the Jesus of the colonizer, slave master, oppressor, and capitalist. He is certainly not the white savior. The real Jesus existed in real history and real time. He is not a fabrication or a myth. In many aspects, Western Christianity has perverted real and biblical Christianity. Contemporary American Christianity has abandoned the message and ethics of Jesus for political gain and cultural influence. Interestingly, American Christianity entrenched in American politics and culture is a joke and mockery of biblical Christianity.

 The author of Proverbs gives a fair warning that “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him” (Proverbs 14:1). To humiliate the poor and exploit the labor and resources of those with dire material needs is to scorn God himself; to act in such an ungodly manner toward the poor is to ignore the biblical mandate to treat all people with dignity and respect and to care for the poor and the oppressed.  When one honors the poor, God is honored; when one mistreats the needy, the immigrant, the orphan, and the widow, God is mistreated.  This verse in Proverb prioritizes the material needs of the poor, while not undermining their spiritual needs. To give preference to the poor and the needy is to  have a God-entranced worldview and to celebrate the supremacy of God in all things.

Elsewhere, the same author of Proverbs insists that “Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor” (Proverbs 22:9). From a biblical perspective, one is counted “blessed” and “happy” because he prioritizes the material needs of the poor and does not withhold his goods from him. Comparatively, the author of Leviticus draws a parallel between the poor and the stranger/immigrant, “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong” (Lev. 19:33). The idea here is to treat both the poor and the immigrant with dignity because it is simply the will of God. The love for the immigrant and the needy is predicated upon one’s love, and affection for God: “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself… I am the LORD your God” (Lev. 19:34). One’s spiritual devotion to God is materialized in one’s treatment of the poor, the needy, and the stranger/immigrant among us. Living the (message of the Christian) Gospel means to stand in solidarity with refugees and immigrants. 

True spirituality is practical spirituality, and Christ-centered discipleship. The concept of caring hospitality and generous relationality, and exceptional love toward the immigrant, the needy, and the poor is rooted in God’s idea of inclusive justice and God’s generous lovingkindness toward all people; it is more pronounced in Deuteronomy, ” For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.  He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore…(Deut. 10:18-19).  To do otherwise and contrary is to “follow Jesus at a distance” with a politically-culturally driven worldview.Christ must be the “center” of our politics, and biblical ethics must be the “catalyst” of our life choices, as well as our political decisions and cultural preferences. The Biblical Jesus is  above culture, ideology, and politics; He is not subservient to cultural traditions, political ideologies, and national and ethnic identity.

As followers of Christ and Children of light, let us not politicize the message and gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to divorce biblical Christianity from American Political Christianity. We need to treat our neighbor and the stranger among us with love, compassion, and dignity. We need to tell our friends and neighbor about Jesus. Jesus only!

A Morning Prayer:

A Morning Prayer
 
I praise Thee Adonai, the Maker of Heavens and the Earth. I praise Thee Sovereign God of the universe for your providence, salvation, and protection. I praise Thee Almighty God for your loving-kindness and compassion. I praise Thee Omniscient God for your faithfulness and remembering all your promises.
 
Let the Nations and Peoples of all the Earth Praise Thee. Let Thy Glory and Fame be known in all the earth!
 
Amen!

Defining Alternative Facts!

Defining Alternative Facts!

Origin: A phrase or expression invented in the United States of America by Kellyanne Conway, President Donald Trump’s counselor (Press Secretary) and a prominent member of the Republican Party, in January 21, 2017, in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
 
Objective (s): 1. to usurp the power, collective agency, and the will of the people; 2. to undermine real facts; and 3. to discount the historical credibility of what it is commonly believed to be factual and evidential.
 
Meaning: A post-presidential inauguration syndrome that overturns any verifiable truths, facts, verities, and challenges mass eyewitness testimonies and reliable public opinions.
 
Contemporary Examples: 1. “My student loan balance is zero, just like my mortgage” (Rev. Dr. Karyn Carlo); 2. American Women did not march across the states on Saturday, January 21, 2017; 3. Barack H. Obama was never elected as President of the United States, from 2008 to 2016; 4. Hillary Clinton won the 2016 presidential election; 5. CNN is fake news; 6. Rev. Dr. Celucien L. Celucien Joseph (a.k.a. “Doctor Lou”) was appointed as the Pope of the Catholic Church in March 6, 1978, bearing the majestic title John Paul IV; 7. The United States of America is a country located in the European continent; and 8. Grandma said to little Johnny: “There are alternative facts in life, please watch your mouth when you speak to strangers and intelligent people!”
 
#alternativefacts
#therearenoalternativesfacts
#Saynotoalternativefacts

 

American Evangelicals, Abortion, and Life after Birth

American Evangelicals, Abortion, and Life after Birth

It is not enough to be just a pro-life advocate  group in the twenty-first century American culture. Unfortunately, in the American society, American evangelicals are known to be a group that identifies itself with the political values of the Republican Party, which is often equated with “family values,” and summarizes as those who fight for life. To put it differently, many critics have argued that the overarching tenet of American evangelicalism in respect to social issues lies in its aggressive campaign for the protection of the life of the unborn. On the other hand, American evangelicals have failed miserably to engage contemporary culture and the pressing human needs of the moment critically, reasonably, ethically, and responsibly. It is doubtful to me that secular (non-theistic) humanism has adequate resources to deal effectively with the problem of pain and human suffering in modern times. Nonetheless, we must hope for the possibility of radical transformation in our culture and reflect critically about this pivotal issue: given the collective wound we are experiencing as a people and nation, can Evangelical Christianity save contemporary American society?

Arguably, American evangelicals have neglected life after birth, and undermined the structural demons and social sins that entangle a large number of the American population—especially the poor, underrepresented families, and various minority groups in the American society. American evangelicals need to be more comprehensive about what they consider as moral issues and pressing ethical demands. In such a time as this as we are transitioning into a new political era and leadership, we are optimistic and pray earnestly that American evangelicals would use their energy, influence, and finances to fight against other forms of human oppression, social evil, and structural injustices the same way they have traditionally deployed these same resources to campaign against the unethical and devastated human action we call abortion.

This twenty-first century is a critical time in American history for American evangelicalism to rethink in a revolutionary sense about its ethical framework/system and reconsider itself both as a religious movement and liberation movement that also values life after birth, and prizes equally the demand for justice, peace, dignity, respect, love, unity, reconciliation, and democracy for all. American Evangelical contemporary ethical system is not “thick” and rigorous enough to confront the pressing human needs of contemporary American society and the radical transformation of the human condition and nature in these urgent times. The peril of the Evangelical mind is inevitably its unreadiness to face critically and responsibly the changing American culture. In the same line of thought, the danger of Evangelical theology is its inadequacy to be relevant to the culture and values of the “millennial” generation.

We are convinced that Christians of all denominational identity or category and ideological persuasion should also oppose racism, poverty, war, imperialism, injustice, oppression, labor exploitation, segregation, and any form of sin and evil that dehumanizes people and challenges the image of God in man and woman. Any neglect of any of this pressing need would render Christianity disengaged with contemporary culture, and the life-experiences and lived-worlds of individuals. The soul of the American people is  already deeply wounded and tattooed by a painful history of alienation and fear. In contemporary American society, Evangelical theological ethics need to be more comprehensive and Christ-exalting and God-honoring!

As Prophet Micah reminds us, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (‭‭Micah‬ ‭6:8‬). Followers of Jesus Christ need to be pro-life from conception to adulthood. They ought to believe, teach, and live the message of the Gospel by caring for and defending the rights of the most vulnerable: children, women, the undocumented immigrant, the poor, the orphan, and underprivileged families.