Being a columnist in a red state which is one of sixteen whose voters still hold a favorable opinion of President Donald Trump isn't all fun and games. Readers want you to love him as much as they do. I don't.
President Trump brings all of the moral failings of Bill Clinton and all of the budget deficits and national debt issues of Barack Obama and suddenly we are supposed to pretend we aren't morally or fiscally conservative anymore. Just because Trump won an election, my political views didn't change.
That being said, I have agreed with Trump several times and even though readers don't remember it, I say good things about our President when I can.
I liked his appointments of both Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State and I even agree with a tweet this weekend where he called Ann Coulter a "wacky nut job." That's not how I would say it but it isn't a sentiment I would challenge.
You can add another line to the number of issues where I agree with the President. He said Monday that he would be willing to make Daylight Saving Time permanent and stop pretending we need to "fall back" or "spring forward" an hour twice a year.
As a person who prefers sunlight after work, I don't see the benefit of falling back an hour in the fall. I would love to see this schedule be made permanent by Congress.
See, I don't always disagree with the President.
The new Great Commission
Jerry Falwell Jr. has done almost as much damage to the evangelical community's reputation as his father did. He is quick to remind people that, unlike his father, he was never a pastor. Junior was an attorney and real estate developer before taking over the university his father founded.
Falwell wasn't chosen to run the organization because of his faith. He certainly isn't retained due to his theology.
As the President of a religious institution, Falwell tweeted this weekend, "You nuts attacking @realDonaldTrump for securing the border need to show me where Jesus told Caesar how to run Rome. Jesus taught personal charity but went out of His way to say render unto Caesar that which is his. Jesus never told Caesar to let barbarians illegally enter Rome.
This view is a strange proof-texting of the themes Jesus taught his disciples.
That's like trying to justify the underage sex ring in Florida that has left many friends of the President calling their defense attorneys, by saying Jesus said, "Let the little children come unto me."
He said those words, but without context, the words can be twisted. Matthew 25 is a real indictment of Falwell Jr. and his brand of "rich guy" religion. Don't get me started on Falwell Jr. bragging about his net worth and the value of his university since he took over. Remember what Jesus said about rich men? Maybe they teach a class at Liberty U. about getting a camel through the eye of a needle.
Christianity's reputation is taking a beating under President Trump. His policy stances have been very favorable to the Religious Right. He has placed two pro-life justices on the Supreme Court and he pays lip service to evangelicals at every opportunity.
Christians certainly aren't being persecuted under the Trump administration.
Despite his hollow words of affirmation, the President has spent more time writing checks to reimburse his attorney for hush money paid to a porn star after an affair than he has in a church since being elected.
The problem with all of these words without actions - or actions that are directly opposed to their pious words - is that people from outside of the fold begin to see all believers as hypocrites when in most cases that is an unfair depiction of people of faith.
Beyond the President, on a local level, I have a friend who had her daughter's college choice questioned because the state she will move to is viewed as the "land of the lost." It's funny to me when people who have never lived outside of the Bible Belt view the rest of the world as unchurched heathens. Let's face facts, having a church on every corner hasn't exactly helped with teen pregnancy rates and drug usage. Oklahoma is No. 1 in the number of people incarcerated per capita and we have the nerve to wonder about other states' spiritual health?
I also hate when someone says something rude to me or a member of my staff and the staff members ask me, "Doesn't he go to your church?" I stand there thinking, "Why, yes he does. I really hate that you know that."
But it certainly isn't just my church that has people who don't represent their faith well in public.
At this weekend's basketball state tournament games, I had a chance to talk to one of the security guards who made a joke about some of the kids from Dale looking rowdy. I told him I know most of those kids and a lot of their parents. I assured him that this group of kids wouldn't give him any trouble. He laughed and said, "I know. I'm not worried about them. The schools I have the most trouble with are the private Christian schools. Their fans are worse than any of the others."
Obviously, paying to send your kid to a school with "Christian" in the name doesn't guarantee you or your child a spot on the home side of the pearly gates, but it would be nice if people with "Christian" on their shirts would act like decent people in public.
The same is true on a daily basis for all of us who attend a church. When people know what church you attend, you become the ambassador from that church to the community - even if you don't necessarily want to be.
When you act like a jerk in public, people hear a brand new version of Jesus' Great Commission. Jesus told his followers to make disciples of all nations. But if you listen to evangelical Trump fans in 2019, you hear a very different message, "Only associate with people who look, believe, and act like you do. Be really judgmental, and whatever you do, make sure everyone else knows you hate them for being different."
If Jesus hadn't risen from the grave, He would be rolling over in it seeing how people misuse his name for political gain today.
It is time for the evangelical community to stop saying the ends justify the means and stand up for what you say you believe regardless of party affiliation.