Recently Donald Trump, in campaigning for the U.S. Presidency, has made several comments that play into the fears of Americans: that no Muslims be allowed to emigrate into the United States. Evangelist Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham) has affirmed Trump’s stance by saying we cannot import more Muslims into our country “until the war with Islam is over.”
The Churches of Christ split from the Christian Church in the 1840s-1860s, ostensibly over denominational hierarchy, and musical organs being introduced into the Sunday morning worship, upsetting the traditional American acapella four part harmony singing. But the unspoken reason was because the northern Christian Church did not support slavery, and the southern Churches of Christ were solidly in the Confederacy. There were some racially integrated anti-slavery churches in the David Lipscomb influenced Tennessee area, but the rest were solidly pro-slavery, and their feelings ran deep. After the Civil War there were many warnings in journals published in the Churches of Christ against racially integrating congregations because of the immorality that would be stirred up by white women listening to black preachers, and how, after the service, the black preachers would shake the white women’s hands with both their hands, and how would the white women be able to resist committing adultery with the black preachers? (Foy E. Wallace, Sr., Bible Banner)
During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s the white Churches of Christ were silent about civil rights, or even hostile. One of my Arkansas friends remembers hearing a sermon referring to “Martin Lucifer Coon” in a Church of Christ he was a member of. No tears were shed in white Churches of Christ when King was assassinated.
In the one college associated with the non-institutional wing of the churches of Christ in Tampa, Florida, there was a ban against admitting black non-athlete students until 1972, mainly because of one major contributor to the college.
So the (white) Churches of Christ should vote for Donald Trump because they have always been afraid of dark skinned people. Donald Trump will lead the nation in protecting, defending, drone striking, water boarding, and bombing dark skinned people with foreign religions who threaten to attack us.
Statistically the danger of being attacked by a Muslim extremist is far less than the danger of dying in a car crash, drowning in a backyard swimming pool, accidentally shooting oneself with a handgun, or even being shot by an American police officer. But none of those things are popular things to campaign against, or be elected because of. Can you imagine a presidential platform including the banning of backyard swimming pools?
The Churches of Christ are solidly within James Fowler’s Stage 3 Faith. Stage 3 is characterized by an allegiance to one’s group. The group or church holds one’s faith. If I am in Stage 3 Faith I am not strong enough to hold onto my faith by myself, so I hold onto my church, who holds onto my faith for me. They prop me up, support me and hold me safe. Departing from my church would be terrifying, because I would fall apart. But Stage 3 is the most xenophobic (fear of other races) of stages of Faith. My group is good, all other groups are inferior, or if I am even more insecure, all other groups are evil, and bound for hellfire damnation. Jesus warned against this: “Why do you pick the sawdust out of your brother’s eye, when you have a plank in your own eye?” And the story of the Good Samaritan. The people of Jesus’ day hated the Samaritans because they were half-breed Jews. They hated them more than they hated the Romans who had conquered them.
People in Stage 3, and this includes the Churches of Christ (and Franklin Graham, who is Baptist), have great difficulty viewing life from another group’s point of view. If I were in Stage 3 Faith, it would be very difficult for me to view life from the point of view of an Afghani, a Palestinian or a Pakistani. To be abysmally dirt poor and uneducated, to read in the newspapers about American drones flying in and shooting my people. Surely I would believe the Americans are the out group, the enemy, the dangerous giant.
People in Stage 3 have little interest in negotiation, mediation and talking through something. If I am in Stage 3 I am frightened and I want immediate relief. I want to feel that my group is strong and powerful, superior and maybe even ruthless.
2. The Churches of Christ have been teaching “spare the rod and spoil the child” for decades. They do not focus on “of such are the kingdom of heaven” when talking about children (unless they are arguing against infant baptism). They see children as a source of disobedience, and the rod or spanking paddle is the instrument that will give them well behaved children. They are proud when they are harsh and their children are well behaved. Force, threats and fear are the primary motivators of their child rearing, and so why shouldn’t they look to force, threats and fear as the primary instruments of diplomacy.
3. The Churches of Christ, as all blue collar religions in America, are strongly influenced by the military industrial complex of America. As long as transportation of goods is cheap, then we will continue to lose our manufacturing industries to countries that pay ten cents per hour for labor. What is left are sales jobs, high tech, healthcare, teaching, service industries, construction and military jobs. Military and military related industries are 15% of the economy. For blue collar workers it is 20% or more of their employers. So there is no discussion of conscientious objection in these blue collar churches. They fly the American flag out in front of their church buildings, as if to say: we are part of the military industrial complex, we pray for victory in all the wars that the United States fights, we do not question the morality of our leaders, we are Stage 3 Faith, and the United States military holds our faith.
For these reasons, the Churches of Christ, and most evangelicals, should
vote for the zenophobia of Donald Trump.