taking the words of Jesus seriously

Trump has repeatedly accused his political adversaries of being “haters.” They hate him and they hate America, he claims. It is not just that they deeply oppose his policies and the direction he has taken the country that they believe is detrimental. No, they hate the country and its President. There have been a variety of people and groups upon whom Trump has pinned the label “hater.”

Trump accused the judge presiding over the suit involving his defunct, fake “university” of being a “hater.” That judge Gonzalo Curiel has a Mexican heritage and because of that Trump declared in a racist denunciation that he should have been disqualified from the case. The most evident hatred was not that of the judge but Trump’s own.

He has recently labeled the House of Representative a bunch of Trump haters. Previously he had gone for far as to accuse certain non-white members of Congress of “hating America.” At one point he claimed the Democratic Party as a whole is “consumed with hatred.”

Trump declared that painting the words Black Lives Matter on Fifth Avenue was a symbol of hate. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended Trump by recalling an incident five years earlier during a protest in Minneapolis when some of the protesters chanted, “Pigs In A Blanket, Fry ‘Em Like Bacon,“ as though that one chant on that one occasion somehow defines the entire movement. Yet Trump has pointed to the chant on a number of occasions to distract from the entire point of the Black Lives Matter movement and to suggest that it is all about hate for police rather than justice for black people who are disproportionately shot and killed by police.

Trump baselessly claimed that teachers in public schools instruct kids to hate America. He insisted, “Against every law of society and nature, our children are taught in school to hate their own country and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes but they were villains.” He accused teachers of being motivated by a ““far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance.” The charge is ironic, given the level of loyalty Trump has demanded from others.

When in Portland a band of mothers linked arm in arm along with veterans from every branch of service and lined up to protect protesters from Trump’s federal troops who had tear-gassed and beaten them, Trump called them “haters.” He tweeted, “The ‘protesters’ are actually anarchists who hate our Country. The line of innocent ‘mothers’ were a scam.” He referred to them as “sick and deranged Anarchists & Agitators.”

In fact, Trump accusations of hate actually are reflections of his own hatreds. He hates those who won’t step in line. He hates dissenters. He hates the media. He hates those who question his view of reality. He hates those who don’t think he has accomplished more than any other President. He hates those who are not loyal to him. And the list goes on.

Hate is not found in any list of virtues. Yet, interestingly enough, we find scripture saying, “There is…a time to love, and a time to hate” (Ecclesiastes 3:8). Scripture also contains these words: “Let those who love the Lord hate evil” (Psalms 97:10).  

So when is it time to hate and what sorts of things are worthy targets of hatred in our present situation? While Trump and his supporters accuse those who are at odds with them of hating America, I think it is more accurate to say that they hate Trump’s version of and vision for America, and not only America but the broader world.

In view of this I believe several things are hate-worthy in Trump’s America.

READ: Antiracism Educators, Your Sources Matter

Hate-worthy is anti-immigrant bigotry and particularly the exclusion of desperate refugees during what has been the worst refugee crisis since World War 2. The callousness of Trump’s policies which has included dividing families and caging children is appalling and morally repugnant. Recently, a Canadian Federal Court ruled “that the U.S. cannot be considered a safe country for refugees.” Borders, to the extent that they are necessary, must be maintained humanely.

Hate-worthy is racism and white supremacy and the continued denial by Trump that there is a serious systemic problem in law enforcement and the U.S. criminal justice institutions. This highly destructive expression of racial inequality is seen in the fact that a disproportionate number of black people are shot by police, charged with drug offenses, and are given harsher sentences for crimes than are whites convicted of the same crimes.

Hate-worthy is gross economic inequality fostered by Trump through tax cuts that predominately benefits the rich and through reductions in aid for the least advantaged. Such inequality has been shown to have a strong correlation with such social problems as high murder rates, high prison population, high infant mortality rates, high rates of substance abuse and low average life expectancy. Economic inequality didn’t start with Trump but he has worsened it.

Hate-worthy is the strain on international relations due to the arrogant “America First” stance. Christians should know intuitively that such a baldly nationalistic stance is hazardous. National self-centeredness is no less ethically deficient than personal self-centeredness. We live in a world where interdependence is unavoidable and necessary. Seeking the good of all rather than a single-minded focus on the advantage of one nation over all deserves the support of anyone who would follow Jesus.

Hate-worthy is militarism that consumes funds needed for schools, healthcare, infrastructure, and the general welfare of the population. Those who follow the Prince of Peace have every reason to have the deepest reservations about the glorification of armed might. Excessive pride in the armed forces misshapes social priorities and fosters the notion that weapons-based security is more important than the security that comes from dependable healthcare, decent housing and sufficient food.

Hate-worthy is the degradation of the environment due to abolishing or weakening regulations protecting clean air, water and soil. Leasing protected public lands for private profiteering companies to mine and drill has been given a green light by the Trump administration. The way the Endangered Species Act is administered under Trump gives more weight to economic considerations when designating an endangered animal’s habitat. 

Hate-worthy is Trump’s undercutting of efforts to curtail climate change.  The Clean Power Plan policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants was eliminated when Trump entered the White House. He loosened emission standards on cars and trucks. He withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement, the vitally important international treaty to address the climate crisis. His policies move the planet ever closer to disaster.

I can easily list more. But what is most notable about this kind of hatred is that it is the flipside of love. In the words of a great prophet, “Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate” (Amos 5:15a). Some hate should be embraced because is the consequence of a passion for a more just, healthy, and harmonious world. If we love rightly we will inevitably recognize that there is, indeed, “a time to hate.”

About The Author


Craig M. Watts is author of "Bowing Toward Babylon: The Nationalistic Subversion of Christian Worship in America" (Cascade Books 2017), an ordained Disciples of Christ minister, and a life-long peace activist. He is lives with his wife Cindi in Oaxaca De Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico.

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