To the editor:
Rev. Mark Harris recently told the assembled local GOP that churches need to “integrate Christian values into political beliefs, such as abortion, infringements on Christian practices and Christianity in the military” (“Scotland Republicans hold convention” The Laurinburg Exchange, March 29).
I’ll sidestep for now the question of separation of church and state that is foundational to our democracy as well as the church’s role in nurturing spirituality. I am a practicing Christian myself, and so I cannot bear any ill will to Rev. Harris or the local Republican Party. But I will say I’ve looked in the New Testament in vain to find any sign of the “Christian values” Harris names. In fact, they weren’t handed down to us from Jesus at all, but instead from 20th-century American fundamentalism as propagated by religious leaders like Jerry Falwell.
Jesus grounded his own value system in the Great Commandment: Love God, and love (all) your neighbors as you love yourself (Luke 10: 25-28). And like all the Jewish prophets who came before him, Jesus charged us to welcome the stranger (the resident alien, or what we would call immigrants), feed the hungry, and care for widows and orphans.
Harris also reported that over 80 percent of Evangelicals “stepped up to the plate and voted for Donald Trump.” For the record, recent studies show that Trump’s largest and most fervent Evangelical supporters do not attend any church regularly. In fact, since 1990 the percentage of white Republicans with no church affiliation has nearly tripled.
People vote for many reasons, and it’s not for me to judge—or even fully understand—them. But I confess I can’t see a vote for Trump as an endorsement of the love, peace, and joy the New Testament charges us to cultivate.
Christianity was never meant to be mean, punitive, judgmental, or divisive. If you want to combine Christianity and your politics, you’d be well advised to go to the source: Jesus, “the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).