Dishonoring America

Once again Donald Trump has engaged in racial epithets in a vain attempt to distract America from all of his failures at leadership.  He has chosen to refer to NFL players using a vile, profane term.  It’s racism in full view: the NFL players are protesting racial animus in white America.  They play in a game where about 80% of the players are African American while about 80% of the fans are white.  So Trump not only uses profanity against them in public, but also calls upon team owners to fire them in response.

(L-R) Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace, former player Ray Lewis and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley lock arms and kneel down during the playing of the U.S. national anthem in London, Sept. 24, 2017. Matt Dunham/AP

It’s understandable that Donald Trump behaves in this way.  This was the way he was brought up.  He has a long record of profane speech and behavior.  What’s still incomprehensible is that a few reputedly Christian leaders continue to support Trump.  Trump has little or no exposure to the Christian faith and has shown no signs that he affirms Christian values or supports Christian action.  There may be understandable reasons why people support Trump: white resentment, racial hatred, nihilism, the vain hope that he will keep his word and change America for the better.  However, there are NO specifically Christian reasons for supporting Trump.

Trump accused the NFL players of “disrespecting America.”  They have violated no law.  In fact, they have demonstrated the best of American democracy.  I say this as someone who is something that Donald Trump will never be: a veteran.  I also say this as something that Donald Trump shows no visible signs of being: a Christian.

I’ve served in Alabama with the church and I think it’s an insult that Donald Trump chose Alabama as a place where he thought he could throw “red meat” to the voters, assuming that Alabamians are as crude as he is.  I think he sold the state short.  The best argument for their voting for even a constitutional foe like Roy Moore is that Trump used his remarks to support Luther Strange.

I hesitate to take time off from preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and preparing a new generation of preachers to speak out as well, but I thought it worthwhile to expend a bit of time saying that which ought to be obvious: Donald Trump is grossly disrespecting America and Christians who support him are helping him to do it.



19 thoughts on “Dishonoring America

  1. Thanks again, Will, for weaving together an important message from the tangled threads of the national narrative President Trump is asking us to buy, with tbe blessing of a few alleged political and religious leaders who enjoy eating at the royal table (e.g. 1 Kings 18:19)–an ancient capitulation to evil repeating itself today.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dr. Willimon,

    Thank you. I too have struggled when to take time away from the pure preaching of the gospel to address the sins of our President, insofar as they reflect the sins of much of our country; yet also trying to remain mindful of my primary calling of bringing grace to all kinds of people. It was not for nothing that America got a materialistic, self-focused, violent, lying, worldly, xenophobic, debauched leader. That did not come out of nowhere, and a large part of evangelicalism is right there with him, not as a compromise, but because many of these are in fact their values.

    I don’t suppose John the Baptist much enjoyed confronting Herod’s immorality either. But it has to be done from time to time if our witness is going to have *any* credibility with those outside the Church, and if we are going to insist that the Church maintain *any* degree of separation from this world. Funny, I thought it was the evangelicals who were supposed to be good at that. But true religion includes not only caring for the needy, but remaining unstained from this world (James 1:27), something entirely lost on large segments of the American Church, it seems.

    God knows I am dreadfully worldly and a great sinner, which is why I can only preach grace and only grace. But grace does no good where there is no acknowledgement of sin or worldliness to begin with. And that is where we are as a country, and our President reflects that perfectly.

    Thank you for continuing to stand for truth and righteousness. I am praying for more patience and wisdom. It is good for me to remember a Will Campbell who drank whiskey with the Klan, even as he tried to win them to Christ.

    Kneeling with you,
    Chris Hutchinson
    PCA Minister, Blacksburg, VA
    Duke ’89
    Desert Storm ’91

    P.S. I wrote this moderate piece 18 months ago to try to influence my little Reformed world, to apparently not much effect:

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Chris. Proud of you and your witness. Great to hear from you. These are times that test gospel preachers. I just read a great sermon from Karl Barth, one that he preached in the first days of WWI. Barth preached down German war blessing and war fever, giving his harshest rebuke to fellow clergy who had fallen in line behind the war effort. I admire his courage.

      But the amazing thing (and this is a theme running through Barth’s sermons throughout the war) Barth calls WWI a “great opportunity for God to come close to us” — “close” meaning with judgment, truthfulness, and grace and forgiveness. Maybe we ought to see the present hour, with a man so obviously morally bankrupt, and with fellow Christians who are unwilling or unable to tell the truth about Trump, as a grand time for God to come close to us.

      Great to hear from you.



      • Indeed, Dr. Willimon, and great reminder, and thanks for your kind words. Not that I have much I can say…. the PCA just repented of slavery in 2004, and of segregationism in 2015, so we are a little late to the game, to say the least. But the repentance is sincere, I think. It’s working the talk radio propaganda and tone out of our system which is going to take a bit longer. Cold Turkey repentance hurts. But so is sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Thanks for the reminder through Barth that God can work good even through the mustard gas.

        Thank you for your ministry and example, all these years.


      • Will, Bruce and I were encouraged by your courage to speak out. We are appalled at what is taking place in our country. As Chris says the PCA comes a little large to the party. Please continue to raise your voice.


    • Chris, glad to know you are still the compassionate, fiery for Christ guy we knew back in the day. Jason’s parents are grateful for you. Keep speaking the truth to our little reformed world.


      • Kathy, thanks for the encouragement! I don’t want to take over Will’s blog (I am not on any social media), but I want to let you know I think about, listen to — and pray for — your son often. He has great gifts and is a sincere man. We had a nice lunch together the last time he was here in town. So great to hear from you — bringing back fond Durham memories!


  3. So much hate in this….Do you think you will make heaven with so much hate in your heart? This is all about Trump and your hate for him. Nothing Christ like about this or you. Who are you to judge….Do you actually feel you have God status? God warns us about false prophets. I will pray for you and the people that follow you …. You are blinded by your hate for Trump.


  4. Preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ…..where in the Bible did Jesus preach hate? Do you think Jesus loves our President? Do you think Jesus approves of the hate in your heart for our president? Do you think Jesus appoves of you playing God when you judge our president and his supporters? Are you ready to stand before God with all that hate in your heart? I am a Christian and Unlike you I love everyone….. Even hard core democrats like you that put your party in front of God. I doubt my post will ever be seen because judging from comments only the ones praising you get posted….. But that’s ok…. Maybe it will open your eyes and ears that have been closed by hate .


  5. I am sorry sir but this entire article is crap. He called out men for dishonoring the United States of America. He does not care what race they are. He cares about this country so get rid of the race card. It is the only one you have I know. But it’s not the right one.


  6. In light of how quiet the evangelical church as been in rebuking DJT, your words are a healing balm. We need Christian leaders who will speak truth and remind us of the two greatest commandments, to love God and neighbor. Thank you, Will.


  7. Would that you would move from the sermons, essays and books and take on the corruption from Western Jurisdiction Bishops with open action the same fervor as you present your political secular opinions! You have the scholarship, credentials and charisma. Generations of the remnant of United Methodists are waiting for the Lord to awaken a Bishop that will be bold in Addressing Church corruption! And we wait!


  8. Disrespecting the National Anthem and/or our flag are NEVER acceptable. Do not defend the NFL players! You are wrong! And, quit disrespecting our President. Just because you say it does not make it so!


  9. My goodness, how judgmental we are. “Judge not, lest ye be judged” for the mote that is in our own eye. Jesus was not political. He is infinitely more than that.
    Among his devoted followers were tax collectors, a former prostitute and a hotheaded disciple named Peter who would alternately deny Christ out of fear for himself or come out slugging to defend him. Sinners all. He was crucified between two sinners, one of whom found paradise.
    Let’s not let the philosophy of the 1960’s inflame us as we shout and carry torches through the night, mob-like, toward the White House and its less-than perfect inhabitant.
    I lived in Berkeley California in the 1960’s. It was not a pretty sight. Berkeley still retains its cultural elitism by self-righteously denying the right to speak to those who do not subscribe to its values.
    I fear Dr. Willimon, despite his academic successes and preaching ability, has not successfully matured from his teenaged idealization of the 1960’s. I believe we are both of the same age, 71, as is Donald Trump.


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