Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Waeza Shamsia Afzal, U.S. Evangelicals, and the corruption of dogma

Reading about the courageous young Canadian woman Waeza Shamsia Afzal carried my thoughts to American evangelical Christians and their worship of Donald Trump. The connection is religion. Ms. Afzal is an observant Muslim who has decided to boycott the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Her reason: "The hajj is governed by the Saudi regime and I do not agree at all with the atrocities they've committed and continue to commit."

This is no small sacrifice. The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and Muslims are required to perform it at least once in their lifetime. She has said she would like to go on the pilgrimage if it was governed by an independent body rather than the Sauds who make about $12-billion a year from the event.

Her sacrifice of devotion to a pillar of her faith because it has been tainted by evil is inspiring, an example that could well be followed by the aforementioned Christians.

Not that all white American evangelicals love Trump. Only 81 per cent do. At least that's the proportion who voted for Trump in the 2016 election. And their support counts. Although they make up only 15 per cent of Americans, they made up 26 per cent of the voters.

Why they support a man who disrespects women, separates children from their mothers, is devoted to mammon, who insults people of colour, and who lies with every breath, is a mystery to many. Particularly when the fortress of evangelical Christianity, the Southern Baptist Convention, issued a "Resolution on Moral Character of Public Officials" in 1998, the key statement of which reads "Tolerance of serious wrong by leaders sears the conscience of the culture, spawns unrestrained immorality and lawlessness in the society, and surely results in God’s judgment."

Apparently they are no longer concerned about searing the American conscience or spawning unrestrained immorality, or even God's judgment. According to Ralph Reed, the chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, the country’s largest organization of evangelical Christians, "There has never been anyone who has defended us and fought for us, who we have loved more than Donald J. Trump."

The reason for the adoration is no mystery. Trump, like white evangelicals, is opposed to abortion and gays (and not overly fond of non-whites). And he has obliged the faithful. He has, for example, nominated conservative judges to the courts, supported abortion bans and groups that oppose same-sex marriage, and moved the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

In other words, he promotes certain elements of evangelical dogma. For this they pander to a man who betrays much of what Christ taught, particularly in regard to loving your fellow men. Just as the Sauds, guardians of Islam's holy cities, betray the best of Islam. Ms. Afzal chose not to accept the betrayal. America's white evangelicals have chosen to sell their souls.

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