taking the words of Jesus seriously

During His earthly ministry, Jesus crossed the lines of prejudice. The Apostle Paul later declared that in Christ racial, ethnic, and nationalistic barriers have been destroyed. Over the past week, however, our president – who was put into office by 81 percent of white evangelicals – seemed to contradict those truths by making incendiary statements in response to riots in Charlottesville.

Trump’s remarks blaming “both sides” by equating those who rallied to express hatred toward African-Americans, Jews, and gays, with those who came to protest against such ugly behavior, brought many oppressed people to tears. I saw this myself as I looked into the faces of African-Americans who openly wept and on the fearful faces of Jewish people who are my neighbors. Gay people I know have said that they no longer feel safe in America.

Note that I am not judging President Trump. I am only judging what I believe were his recent hurtful remarks and behavior. People should be considered better than the mistakes they have made, and I think that we need to show as much grace to President Trump as Jesus has shown to us.

Many of the prominent leaders of his own Republican party have distanced themselves publicly from the president’s behavior, but those evangelicals like Robert Jeffress, Franklin Graham, and Pat Robertson have remained reluctant to express great dismay in response to our president’s recent hurtful remarks following the Charlottesville riots. Is it not time for such leading evangelicals to speak out and distance themselves from the president’s remarks?

READ: Lies from the Pit of Hell: The Dangerous Theology of Rev. Jeffress

And what about those important evangelical clergyman (and they were all men) who were photographed in the oval office laying hands on the president’s head, seemingly ordaining him as a blessed agent of God. Have they anything to say about the way this president has hurt so many of their fellow Christians who are African-American?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, speaking on behalf of the Confessing Church of Germany during the Nazi era, said, “Those who do not speak out on behalf of the Jews have no right to chant Gregorian.” This statement means that to not have spoken on behalf of the Jews at that defining moment in history was to have lost the privilege to conduct religious services to glorify God. Now is the hour in America for those evangelical leaders who have the president’s ear to call him to repentance, and if he will not repent, to declare themselves as condemners of his recent behavior.

If ever there was a time for you, the reader, to declare yourself as a Red Letter Christian by signing our pledge, it is now! White Evangelicalism is losing its credibility. It’s time to adopt the new label of “Red Letter Christian” in order to define yourself and stand on the side of Jesus and justice. And remember, if we are to take the teachings of Jesus seriously, we are also required to pray for President Trump.

About The Author


Tony Campolo is Professor of Sociology at Eastern University, and was formerly on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. For 40 years, he founded and led the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, an organization that created and supported programs serving needy communities in the Third World as well as in “at risk” neighborhoods across North America. More recently, Dr. Campolo has provided leadership for the Red Letter Christians movement. He blogs regularly at his own website. Tony and his wife Peggy live near Philadelphia, and have two children and four grandchildren.

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