The One Thing Donald Trump and Your Pastor Definitely Have in Common

Jen Wise // holistic faith, truth, politics

Is anyone else tired of hearing about Donald Trump? I mean the guy is EVERYWHERE. News stories, memes, FB posts, viral videos, tweets, and even my kids’ drawings—I can’t escape him. Clearly he has a knack for stealing the spotlight—not a bad thing when you’re running for president. The coverage is overwhelming, in part because for every avid Trump fan, there seems to be an equally avid Trump-hater. And no, I didn’t mean to say “Kasich supporter” or “democrat”—I quite literally mean a Trump-hater.

I mean, WOW. The statements and comments I read go waaaay beyond admonishing, challenging, or disagreeing. They go waaaay beyond “calling him out” or “holding him accountable.” Much of what fills my screen is grossly inappropriate, surprisingly hateful, and unabashedly so.  

It’s probably necessary, before I go any further, to disclose that I’m not a Trump supporter in any way, shape, or form. This isn’t a defense of Trump, his words, his actions, or his views. But it is a defense of his humanity, something we seem to have sidelined in all the hoopla and circus-antics of this election.

And it’s not just Trump. Hillary Clinton is the target of gobs of violent rhetoric. And both President Obama and President Bush endured just INSANITY-LEVELS of crazy talk, often from otherwise sane-seeming people. Sadly it seems this is now the status quo. (And please, don’t think I’m blind to our politicians acting in this exact same manner.)

We’re in this icky place as a culture where it’s terrifyingly natural to treat anyone in the spotlight as fair game for our attack. Politicians, pastors, celebrities, local sports figures, essentially anyone in our circle’s spotlight—we somehow trick ourselves into thinking that their TV/up-front/newspaper/web status gives us the right to voice our judgment, criticism and honestly, hatred, in a completely un-checked manner.

We have a strange tendency to dehumanize anyone with a platform, no matter the size.

I have several close friends who pastor churches around the country, and I’m continually astonished at the words spoken to them and about them. Sure, anyone in a church is bound to disagree with their leadership at least occasionally, but it’s a matter of HOW we disagree, and WHY we disagree—what’s our heart behind the things we say and spread?

And this is extra disturbing because our pastors are a part of our community. While we may view them on stage each week, they’re here, in the flesh. We know their families, their kids run through the church halls together with our own, we see them at picnics and coffee shops and we shake their hands. And whether we agree with their methods or not, many of these people are making significant sacrifices to care for us, our families, and our communities. And whether we agree with their theology or not, none deserves to be denigrated and gossiped about. There is a stark difference between personally questioning your pastor out of genuine concern, and stirring up rumblings of accusations and slander.

Kindreds, can we do one thing?

Can we please take everyone off of the pedestal, and remember that all of these people, the politicians we love and the ones we love to hate, the “too skinny” or “too fat” celebrity, the pastor who works 80 hours a week, the local celebrity who would rather not be, can we remember they’re humans? As in, actual people with hearts and souls, made in the image of God? People with families, and mothers, and insecurities, and stories?

I beg us all, myself included, to search our hearts and truthfully consider our actions. Why do we act as if gossip isn’t gossip, just because the person is well-known? Why do we feel that it’s not wrong to spew hatred, just because our target has a spotlight?

Yes, challenge what needs to be challenged. Question what needs to be questioned. Vote your conscious. But rather than being pulled into the current of lies, slander, and hate, let’s stand firm as a different kind of people. People who know, unwaveringly, that God’s love extends to us all.