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Trump v. Jesus: Christians can’t follow both

“If you are followers of Jesus, you can’t ignore what Jesus said,” said Rev. Jim Wallis, who was educated in Deerfield and returns to the area for appearances this weekend.

Rev. Jim Wallis, activist and author.
Rev. Jim Wallis, activist and author, brings to Chicago his message that followers of Jesus must by necessity reject the leadership of Donald Trump.
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Many Christians pluck a line from the Bible and pretend it is the entirety of Scripture, using the command as a club against anyone who makes them uncomfortable. Their religion is a green light from God Almighty to harass gays, plague women, and of course support Donald Trump, the living embodiment of their faith.

“I love him so much I can hardly explain it,” said right-wing pastor and Trump adviser James Robison.

Many echo Robison; 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump.

But there are also Christians like Rev. Jim Wallis.

“There is a conflict between the politics of Jesus and the politics of Trump,” said Wallis. “Racial bigotry is a deal breaker for the Gospel. White nationalism, which Donald Trump embraces and champions, isn’t just racist — it’s anti-Christ. Dehumanizing immigrants isn’t just racist — it’s anti-Christ. Demeaning women isn’t just sexist — it’s anti-Christ. At some point, Christians have to ask themselves: Are the teachings of Christ going to be followed or not?”

Nor is Wallis alone: 90 Christian leaders joined him signing a call for this Sunday, Oct. 13, to be a National Day of Prayer “for the truth to be revealed through the impeachment inquiry.”

“For the sake of our nation’s integrity and the most vulnerable in our society, we call on fellow Christians to support the current impeachment inquiry,” read the statement. “Now is the time to shine the light of truth.”

Wallis is coming to Chicago to promote his new book, “Christ in Crisis: Why We Need to Reclaim Jesus” though it really is a homecoming.

“We started what has become Sojourners in Chicago,” said Wallis, of the magazine and movement begun at Trinity Evangelical School in Deerfield, which Wallis attended.

“I came to my faith after being an activist for many years,” he said. “I was coming out of the student movement, fighting racism, poverty, the war in Vietnam.”

The Vietnam War divided America, but that was not its purpose; with Trump, Wallis sees an intentional schism.

“Trump appeals to our worst demons,” he said. “There really is a worst of America, and he is a marketer for it. He’s deliberately dividing our country.”

Wallis believes much of the powerful evangelical movement isn’t based on religion, but on politics.

“In 1980 there was a political effort by Republican operatives, who approached Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and said, ‘Give us a list of your followers and we’ll create a new right wing movement and make you household names.’ It’s a political mobilization. Not theological. Not religious.”

But the faith that can be corrupted to serve Trump can also, Wallis believes, light the path away from him.

“There’s is a religious right that wraps political ideology around faith to polarize the country and, I think, silence and sabotage Jesus,” said Wallis. “He’s been hijacked. I want to try to reclaim Jesus and what He said. Those who turn to the politics of Jesus will defect from the politics of Trump,”

Any indication that those who have sold their souls to Trump are now willing to renege on the deal?

“A lot of white evangelicals are breaking from their parents over climate change, over LGBTQ issues,” Wallis said. “There are a growing number of white evangelical suburban Republican women who are shifting, [saying] ‘We care about life in the womb, but we also care about life on the southern border, about kids being ripped away from their parents.’”

“Jesus says, ‘I was a stranger. How you treat the stranger is how you treat me. How you treat the sick is how you treat me. How you treat the poor is how you treat me,’” Wallis said. “These are the most important people to Jesus and the least important to this administration.

“If you are followers of Jesus, you can’t ignore what Jesus said,” said Wallis. “So much of what Donald Trump says and does and makes policy is literally antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. No one can deny that. So how can you support him when he is contrary to everything Jesus said and did?”

Rev. Wallis will discuss using Christ to guide America through its current crisis at 4 p.m. Sunday at University Church Chicago, 5655 S. University Ave., Chicago. At 7 p.m. Tuesday, he’ll appear at Community Christian Church, 1635 Emerson Lane, Naperville.