An atheist, an agnostic, and an evangelical walk into a bar. … Okay, not really; didn’t happen. But if it were to happen, it might be Greg, Jeff, and me. What an unlikely trio. As the evangelical in the mix, I might contend that Providence brought the three of us together. Jeff and Greg might disagree with that assessment, but they’re sufficiently tolerant to accept me for who I am—along with my Christian worldview. Tolerance is the lubricant that diminishes the friction within a pluralistic democratic republic—and within a pluralistic blogsite. Thank you to Jeff and Greg for accepting me as a contributor on their blog, in spite of our different philosophies.
While the three of us might not share a common view of metaphysics in general or religion in particular, we are in accord on one key belief: Donald Trump and his corrupt, intolerant worldview must be stopped. Trump’s MAGA philosophy degrades and dehumanizes … I was going to say his opponents, but his debasement of others extends even to—actually, especially to—his supporters. In pitting factions of Americans against one another, Donald Trump has devalued all of us, but especially those who impetuously espouse his bigotry. As a Christian, I believe every human being—no exceptions—is made in God’s image and, therefore, deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.
A clear example of Trump’s—and his devout followers’—inability or unwillingness to grasp the concept of universal human dignity can be seen in the use of his executive authority to restore the rank of Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher. Gallagher was demoted for posing for photos with a recently killed Iraqi detainee, as if the deceased Iraqi were a big-game animal.
I’ve known my Trumpist friends long enough to know their reactions to news such as this. For most of them, their reaction to my claim directly above almost certainly would be something like this: “Well, the G__ d___ raghead was an animal. Damn murderous, pedophile Arabs all deserve to be slaughtered like animals.”
Now, mind you, many of these Trumpists are evangelical Christians who vehemently oppose abortion because they say they believe in the sanctity of human life. “Every human,” they would repeat, mantra-like, “is made in God’s image and deserves a chance at life.” They also likely would add, “Those little ones are especially innocent and vulnerable.” I agree with them on those points. I believe innocent, unborn babies deserve life.
But in the past, evangelical doctrine taught that every human—unborn, alive, or even deceased—deserves to be treated with dignity, not based on how they lived or might live their lives, but because they are made in God’s image. A key Bible phrase frequently cited by evangelicals is Romans 3:23, which says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The Bible my Trump-loving white evangelical friends say they revere teaches that, since “the Fall,” every human being is born with a sin nature, and every human sins—yes, some more than others. So, in historic evangelical doctrine, we have this apparent paradox of creatures created close to God, but separated from Him by sin—every one of them.
The notion that some—perhaps those who sins are bigger and/or more frequent—have forfeited their right to be treated with Imago Dei dignity does not stand up to biblical scrutiny.
Or, perhaps, because they are “different” they never did deserve that dignity. Perhaps “they,” unlike “us,” were not created in God’s image. Such notions may have infected the thoughts of my Trump-supporting evangelical friends, but if those thoughts did, they did not come from the Bible, which teaches that EVERY HUMAN is created in God’s image, and that, paradoxically, EVERY HUMAN is a sinner.
Only God knows the sins that dead Iraqi detainee committed. But the same all-knowing God declares that same man to have been made in His image, and therefore deserving to be treated with dignity—even in death—by other sinful humans.
Yes, in this warped world, sometimes it is necessary for some humans to kill others, but we should never take pleasure in doing so. We should never treat the deceased disrespectfully. Evangelicals should remember the doctrine of Imago Dei (made in God’s image). The Naval Board that demoted Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher understood that profound concept; the Commander-in-Chief who reversed that demotion obviously does not.
Our nation cannot survive as a pluralistic democratic republic through four more years under the dominance of a tyrant who cannot or will not accept the principle of universal human dignity.
Thanks again, Greg and Jeff, for allowing me to join you in this quest.