Some Trump Apologists Have Traded Christianity for a Church of Trump

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Millennial Catholic Christine Emba writes:

According to Falwell’s creative theology, Christ “went out of his way to say that’s the earthly kingdom, I’m about the heavenly kingdom,” and loving your neighbor as yourself only applies to the latter.

The man whose institutional mission includes being “a voice for the voiceless” then meditated on the uselessness of the poor — “A poor person never gave anyone a job. A poor person never gave anybody charity, not of any real volume. It’s just common sense to me.” He then suggested that it might be immoral for Christians not to support Trump….

Falwell’s flawed exegesis is comically absurd, but its implications are profoundly unfunny. While the Liberty University president purports to be an evangelical leader, his statements are in total contradiction to Christian truth. This isn’t just benign confusion: This is heresy.

And, like many heretics, Falwell and his fellow evangelical Trump apologists are on their way to founding a new religion, one in direct conflict with the old. This new religion doesn’t have much to do with Christ at all. Instead, it centers Trump as savior above any other god.

Michael Gerson writes:

Headed into a possible impeachment battle, the most ethically challenged president of modern times — prone to cruelty, bigotry, vanity, adultery and serial deception — is depending on religiously conservative voters for his political survival. And, so far, it is not a bad bet…..

He is the enemy of their enemies. He is willing to use the hardball tactics of the secular world to defend their sacred interests. In their battle with the Philistines, evangelicals have essentially hired their own Goliath — brutal, pagan, but on their side.


Pope Warns against Rising Nationalism, Defends Universal Human Rights and Migrants

via Vatican News:

It is clear, though, that relationships within the international community, and the multilateral system as a whole, are experiencing a period of difficulty, with the resurgence of nationalistic tendencies at odds with the vocation of the international Organizations to be a setting for dialogue and encounter for all countries.  This is partly due to a certain inability of the multilateral system to offer effective solutions to a number of long unresolved situations, like certain protracted conflicts, or to confront present challenges in a way satisfactory to all.  It is also in part the result of the development of national policies determined more by the search for a quick partisan consensus than by the patient pursuit of the common good by providing long-term answers.  It is likewise partially the outcome of the growing influence within the international Organizations of powers and interest groups that impose their own visions and ideas, sparking new forms of ideological colonization, often in disregard for the identity, dignity and sensitivities of peoples.  In part too, it is a consequence of the reaction in some parts of the world to a globalization that has in some respects developed in too rapid and disorderly a manner, resulting in a tension between globalization and local realities….

Some of these attitudes go back to the period between the two World Wars, when populist and nationalist demands proved more forceful than the activity of the League of Nations.  The reappearance of these impulses today is progressively weakening the multilateral system, resulting in a general lack of trust, a crisis of credibility in international political life, and a gradual marginalization of the most vulnerable members of the family of nations….

Peace is never a partial good, but one that embraces the entire human race.  Hence an essential aspect of good politics is the pursuit of the common good of all, insofar as it is “the good of all people and of the whole person”[4] and a condition of society that enables all individuals and the community as a whole to achieve their proper material and spiritual well-being….

Respect for the dignity of each human being is thus the indispensable premise for all truly peaceful coexistence, and law becomes the essential instrument for achieving social justice and nurturing fraternal bonds between peoples.  In this context, a fundamental role is played by the human rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose seventieth anniversary we recently celebrated.  The universal objective and rational nature of those rights ought rightly to be reaffirmed, lest there prevail partial and subjective visions of humanity that risk leading to new forms of inequality, injustice, discrimination and, in extreme cases, also new forms of violence and oppression….

Among the vulnerable of our time that the international community is called to defend are not only refugees but also migrants.  Once again, I appeal to governments to provide assistance to all those forced to emigrate on account of the scourge of poverty and various forms of violence and persecution, as well as natural catastrophes and climatic disturbances, and to facilitate measures aimed at permitting their social integration in the receiving countries….

Concern for those who are most vulnerable impels us also to reflect on another serious problem of our time, namely the condition of workers.  Unless adequately protected, work ceases to be a means of human self-realization and becomes a modern form of slavery.  A hundred years ago saw the establishment of the International Labour Organization, which has sought to promote suitable working conditions and to increase the dignity of workers themselves.  Faced with the challenges of our own time, first of all increased technological growth, which eliminates jobs, and the weakening of economic and social guarantees for workers, I express my hope that the International Labour Organization will continue to be, beyond partisan interests, an example of dialogue and concerted effort to achieve its lofty objectives….

Rethinking our common destiny in the present context also involves rethinking our relationship with our planet. This year too, immense distress and suffering caused by heavy rains, flooding, fires, earthquakes and drought have struck the inhabitants of different regions of the Americas and Southeast Asia.  Hence, among the issues urgently calling for an agreement within the international community are care for the environment and climate change.  In this regard, also in the light of the consensus reached at the recent international Conference on Climate Change (COP24) held in Katowice, I express my hope for a more decisive commitment on the part of states to strengthening cooperation for urgently combating the worrisome phenomenon of global warming.  The earth belongs to everyone, and the consequences of its exploitation affect all the peoples of the world, even if certain regions feel those consequences more dramatically….

On 9 November 1989 the Berlin Wall fell.  Within a few months, an end would come to the last legacy of the Second World War: the painful division of Europe decided at Yalta and the Cold War.  The countries east of the Iron Curtain recovered freedom after decades of oppression, and many of them set out on the path that would lead to membership in the European Union.  In the present climate, marked by new centrifugal tendencies and the temptation to erect new curtains, may Europe not lose its awareness of the benefits – the first of which is peace – ushered in by the journey of friendship and rapprochement between peoples begun in the postwar period.


Millennial of the Year 2018: Lizzie Velásquez

Our 2018 Millennial of the Year is anti-bullying activist, author, motivational speaker, and role model to countless young people Lizzie Velasquez. Lizzie is on the front lines in the battle against the throwaway culture, championing love, kindness, solidarity, and the fundamental worth and dignity of every single person.

We live at a time when it’s no longer possible to deny how pervasive both bullying and the objectification of others are—vividly seen in the misbehavior of the rich and powerful and experienced regularly by everyday Americans. Sadly many Christians are seen defending both, not just in justifying the words and actions of their favorite politician, but more broadly. Cruelty is dismissed as “kids being kids,” and the objectification of women—ignoring the dignity and integral nature of each person in order to revel in capricious societal and individual biases—is defended as a (supposedly inevitable) manifestation of human nature. Free will is essentially denied, as immoral behavior and a degrading culture are defended.

But Lizzie—a 29-year-old Roman Catholic woman from Texas with Marfanoid–progeroid–lipodystrophy syndrome, a rare congenital disease that prevents her from gaining weight—has put forward an authentically Christian response to this culture of dehumanization. She has not only confronted the culture of cruelty, but regularly displays compassion for the hurt and insecurity that so often underpins those engaging in this cruel behavior. Her understanding of the root causes of cruelty extends to her recognition that consumerism fuels the widespread obsession with conforming to fleeting notions of attractiveness. Corporations foster and prey on insecurities in order to sell products and maximize their profits.

It’s more important than ever to recognize that dehumanizing someone isn’t only bad when it results in genocide or sexual assault—that objectifying another human being is always wrong and never benign. This is essential for understanding the nature of human flourishing and what the common good looks like concretely.

Against the destructive rugged individualism in our society, she’s notes that no man is an island. And she encourages people to not be afraid of reaching out to others. It’s easier to battle consumerism, materialism, insecurity, and dehumanization when we have the support of others, who recognize our inherent value and worth. The strong support of her family has likely helped her to appreciate this.

Lizzie reminds us that “uniqueness is a good thing.” This is inseparable from human dignity and worth, and it is no surprise that those who dehumanize others are often promoting bland conformity to an impersonal paradigm. One of her main goals is to get people to know that they are loved and accepted for exactly who they are. Appreciating our uniqueness and the uniqueness of others allows for genuine authenticity.

Her effectiveness in delivering this personalist message comes from her openness, honesty, vulnerability, humor, compassion, and the fact that she too is battling these things. She is open about battling insecurity and self-doubt, even as she describes their sources. The pervasive force of these is something few women and girls can escape entirely. Girls are taught to objectify themselves and that their self-worth and beauty is not innate. This has to be consciously resisted and deprogrammed. And we see Lizzie resisting in real time, and at the end of the day, she can say that she does not want to change the way she looks in any way, even as the struggle continues. It is her witness that is powerful.

It is for this witness against a culture of cruelty, materialism, and dehumanization that our 2018 Millennial of the Year is the remarkable, the relatable, the beautiful Lizzie Velásquez.


Political Life Can Become an Outstanding Form of Charity

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In his 2019 World Day of Peace message, Pope Francis says:

We know that the thirst for power at any price leads to abuses and injustice. Politics is an essential means of building human community and institutions, but when political life is not seen as a form of service to society as a whole, it can become a means of oppression, marginalization and even destruction….

If exercised with basic respect for the life, freedom and dignity of persons, political life can indeed become an outstanding form of charity….

Sadly, together with its virtues, politics also has its share of vices, whether due to personal incompetence or to flaws in the system and its institutions. Clearly, these vices detract from the credibility of political life overall, as well as the authority, decisions and actions of those engaged in it. These vices, which undermine the ideal of an authentic democracy, bring disgrace to public life and threaten social harmony. We think of corruption in its varied forms: the misappropriation of public resources, the exploitation of individuals, the denial of rights, the flouting of community rules, dishonest gain, the justification of power by force or the arbitrary appeal to raison d’état and the refusal to relinquish power. To which we can add xenophobia, racism, lack of concern for the natural environment, the plundering of natural resources for the sake of quick profit and contempt for those forced into exile….

Political addresses that tend to blame every evil on migrants and to deprive the poor of hope are unacceptable. Rather, there is a need to reaffirm that peace is based on respect for each person, whatever his or her background, on respect for the law and the common good, on respect for the environment entrusted to our care and for the richness of the moral tradition inherited from past generations.


Pope Francis: Without Fraternity, Efforts for a More Just World Fall Short

via the Vatican:

What is the universal message of Christmas? It is that God is a good Father and we are all brothers and sisters.

This truth is the basis of the Christian vision of humanity. Without the fraternity that Jesus Christ has bestowed on us, our efforts for a more just world fall short, and even our best plans and projects risk being soulless and empty.

For this reason, my wish for a happy Christmas is a wish for fraternity.

Fraternity among individuals of every nation and culture.

Fraternity among people with different ideas, yet capable of respecting and listening to one another.

Fraternity among persons of different religions. Jesus came to reveal the face of God to all those who seek him….

The experience of families teaches us this: as brothers and sisters, we are all different from each other. We do not always agree, but there is an unbreakable bond uniting us, and the love of our parents helps us to love one another. The same is true for the larger human family, but here, God is our “parent”, the foundation and strength of our fraternity.


Pope Francis on Greed and Hunger

via the AP:

During his homily Monday, Francis lamented that many people find their life’s meaning in possessions when the biblical story of Christ’s birth emphasizes that God appeared to people who were poor when it came to earthly possessions, but faithful.

“Standing before the manger, we understand that the food of life is not material riches but love, not gluttony but charity, not ostentation but simplicity,” Francis said, dressed in simple white vestments.

“An insatiable greed marks all human history, even today, when paradoxically a few dine luxuriantly while all too many go without the daily bread needed to survive,” he said.


Assad Regime Using Mass Murder to Empty Prisons of Political Opponents

via the Washington Post:

As Syria’s government consolidates control after years of civil war, President Bashar al-Assad’s army is doubling down on executions of political prisoners, with military judges accelerating the pace they issue death sentences, according to survivors of the country’s most notorious prison.

In interviews, more than two dozen Syrians recently released from the Sednaya military prison in Damascus described a government campaign to clear the decks of political detainees. The former inmates said prisoners are being transferred from jails across Syria to join death-row detainees in Sednaya’s basement and then be executed in pre-dawn hangings.

Yet despite these transfers, the population of Sednaya’s once-packed cells — which at their peak held an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 inmates — has dwindled largely because of the unyielding executions, and at least one section of the prison is almost entirely empty, the former detainees said.