Unmasking the Hypocrisy of Trump's "Religious Liberty" Initiative (Part 2)

Note: This is the conclusion to a two-part series. Please read Part One for context. Especially the background I provided on the origin and meaning of the word "Hypocrite."

Last week, Donald Trump used the National Day of Prayer to sign an Executive Order (EO) promoting and promising “Religious Liberty.” At the signing, he was surrounded by well-known Fundamental/Evangelical Christian leaders.

In my earlier post, I made two important points:

First, I affirmed everyone’s right to their religious beliefs. I don’t have to understand them, agree with them or share them. I don’t even have to like them. That’s the brilliance of Freedom of Religion. I want my beliefs to be treated the same way in return.

Second, I find Donald Trump’s involvement to be the epitome of hypocrisy. The man is devoid of any semblance of religious conviction, and it’s absurd and insulting for him to pretend he cares about protecting them. 

But the farce of this event wasn't limited to the man who signed the document.
I’m seeking to unmask the multi-layered hypocrisy (and the Hypocrites) of this Order, and the message such a directive advances.

Second, the hypocrisy is obvious in the impotence of the Executive Order

A leaked copy of an early version of the Executive Order showed it would have essentially nullified the Johnson Amendment, giving religious organizations, included churches, the freedom to endorse political candidates, without fear of retribution from the IRS. There was also strong wording which would have granted businesses broad rights to discriminate against LGBTQ people, using their “deeply held religious beliefs” as a basis.
Neither of those provisions were included in the final Order he signed.

It was not what his conservative base expected, not what they wanted, and certainly not what he’d promised. It wasn't much more than vague rhetoric, implementing no changes in existing laws and practices. The ACLU mocked the EO as meaningless, withdrawing their threat of legal action.

Even many conservatives were disappointed at the lack of content or fulfillment of Trump’s promise. However, they’re putting a good spin on it, touting it as a “significant first step to defending religious liberty” in the fulfillment of their anti-LGBTQ agenda.

Obviously, I’m glad it wasn't what we expected. But it can’t be denied it’s another example of Trump’s pontifications, exaggerations and empty words.
He’s a hypocritical liar.

Note: While I vehemently disagree with both the need and intent for such an Order, I do concur this is not the end of this push for religious-based discrimination. This is not over. That's why this Executive Order still concerns me.

Third, the fallacy that this Executive Order has anything to do about “religion” or “freedom” is hypocrisy.

When we consider the history of these initiatives, when we listen carefully to the rhetoric of those pushing for these “protections,” and look closely at the ones who are advising Trump on these matters, we’re confronted with two conspicuous factors:

  1. They are crafted to respect only one religion—Christianity. And more precisely, Conservative Evangelicals/Fundamentalist Christians.
     
  2. The primary “religious belief” being protected almost exclusively involves interaction with LGBTQ people. (e.g., a business serving gay people)

It can’t be “Religious freedom” when it only elevates certain religious beliefs.
It’s not “religious Freedom” if it makes some Americans less free.

(As I stated in an earlier post, these initiatives certainly don’t reflect MY beliefs.)

So, let’s be honest.
This is not “freedom,” it about privilege—one group seeking to assert dominance.

discrimination-signs-history.jpg

This is not about “religion,” or the right to adhere to certain beliefs, it’s about legalized discrimination against people deemed unworthy. It’s about fear and bigotry, targeting a specific group.

Doesn't this sound the least bit…familiar?
Haven’t we seen this before?
Isn't our history full of times we tried to exclude people?
Aren't there examples of others times we judged and excluded others, based on some aspect of who they are? 

How did that work out?

This Order is not “religious freedom;” it’s actually closer to religious oppression—the elevation of one set of beliefs over the beliefs of another, with penalties for those who believe different. (i.e., if I don’t share the beliefs of the person in charge of a business, I can be refused service, whether it’s a baker, a doctor, or an ambulance driver.)

It would be hypocritical to deny what this Executive Order truly is: codified bigotry!
The ramifications are frightening, and I foresee the results as dangerous.

Last, when we consider the ones advocating for this Executive Order, the hypocrisy should be glaring.

The people who are pushing this Executive Order, indeed the need for “religious liberty” protections throughout the country, are (supposedly) “Christians.” Granted, they are extreme Fundamentalists, but at the core of their faith is (supposedly) the Person of Jesus.

As one who self-identifies as a Christian, one who’s spent a lifetime as a student of the Bible, I find nothing in either the example Jesus nor His teachings to justify singling out any person or group for such religious-based discrimination. (In an earlier entry, I asked the serious question: What Might Jesus Say about "Religious Liberty" Laws?)

Jesus welcomed all.
Jesus was inclusive!
He was even criticized for hanging out with the "wrong" crowd. (cf: Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34)

This Order, and those in the religious community who are pushing it, have missed the wonderful message of the Gospel, embodied in the Person of Jesus, who said the world would know those who follow Him by their LOVE--love of our neighbors as well as our enemies. Jesus used the despised Samaritan as our example of service. He gave us "The Golden Rule," instructed us to go the second mile, and take care of “the least” among us. We are to seek justice for the oppressed, not find legal means to become the oppressors.

Excluding another person isn't reflecting Jesus.
Judging another person is contrary to the example of Jesus.
Refusing to serve a gay person is not in keeping with Jesus’ instructions.
Marginalizing an entire group of people for oppression and scorn is not love.

These actions are a contradiction of everything Jesus taught. 
They are contrary to Who Jesus is!

The Fundamentalists/Evangelicals who push for this kind of action, those who applaud it and those who seek to implement it are not followers of Jesus.
They are Hypocrites.

The Church is not…should not be…defined by political mandates, presidential edicts or governmental regulations. History has shown us the horrific results of that unholy union.

It was intended as a place for rest, restoration—a sanctuary for peace and comfort. It’s where Jesus is honored and celebrated, and where we learn from one another how to better pattern our lives after Him. It’s a base of operations for putting our faith into actions, helping those who hurt and those with needs.

The church is where we lift up Jesus, not endorse political candidates.
Jesus is the church’s One Foundation; it was never intended to be a platform for partisan politics.

As Christians, we are to be a Living Expression of our faith, and an active follower of the Founder of our Faith.
If we aren't, it would be hypocritical to believe an Executive Order from a corrupt, immoral President will somehow strengthen or give credence to our testimony.

In fact, I would suggest it will do the opposite.
And if that’s the case—if we are no longer viable witnesses of our faith—what then is our purpose?