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“A Boost from the Evangelicals”

On December 7, presidential candidate Donald Trump announced that he believed the United States should ban all Muslims from entering the country.

An hour or so later, a broadcaster named David Brody said the following on Twitter: “Expect the Donald Trump statement on USA Muslim ban to give him a boost with evangelicals.”

And I can’t stop thinking about it.

I’m going to put this out there very clearly: I believe that a ban on Muslims entering the United States places us on a very slippery slope that will send us straight into fascism. Go ahead and explain to me how banning Muslims from entering the U.S. is any different than Nazi Germany rounding up the Jews to get rid of them. Go on, I’ll wait.

Or, let’s take another approach. Tell me how this is any different from the Islamic State – also known as ISIS – telling Christians that they need to a) convert to Islam, b) pay a hefty tax, or c) leave, or they’ll be executed.

You might say, “Well, no one’s calling for Muslims to be executed.” That’s true enough. But do we really think this will end with banning them from entering the country? Do we think they won’t be rounded up and interned like Japanese-Americans were during World War II? We’ve already had certain politicians saying we should do with Muslims like FDR did with Japanese-Americans, talking like that was a really good idea that FDR had (never mind that it’s since been roundly condemned as one of the worst things the U.S. has done).

So anyway, that’s how I feel about this whole ban-the-Muslims thing. I think the idea that the United States, a country founded in pursuit of religious freedom, would try to prevent one religion’s adherents from entering is repugnant.

But I want to delve a little deeper. I want to tackle David Brody’s comment that this pronouncement of Trump’s will “give him a boost with evangelicals.”

I’ve never really identified with the term “evangelicals,” maybe because while I was growing up, it seemed to be synonymous with 700 Club-ers who declared that you couldn’t be a Christian and be a feminist. But digging deeper into the term, I found that it refers to a Christian who believes in the good news of Jesus and desires to spread it. Which, yeah, that refers to me. So I guess I’m an evangelical.

… can I just keep calling myself a Christian instead? Thanks.

I’m not totally sure if David Brody means Christians like me when he refers to “evangelicals.” But I don’t think that the general non-believing public differentiates between “evangelical” and “Christian.” I think most people put the two terms together.

Regardless, I’m horrified that such a stance could possibly give Trump a “boost” from people who believe in Jesus.

Do you remember those “WWJD” bracelets that were so popular in the late 90s and early 00s? They were supposed to help us remember “What Would Jesus Do?” And I’m wondering… would Jesus support a ban of an entire religion from entering a country that, ostensibly, is a refuge from the horrors of the rest of the world?

The Jesus I learned about in the Bible was a man who consistently reached out to the same people the rest of the world wanted to leave behind and ignore. Tax collectors. Prostitutes. General “sinners.” Women – including those of ill repute, those who were sick and suffering, and even, horror of all horrors, a Samaritan woman.

The Samaritan woman is of the most interest to me because, in my opinion, Jews and Samaritans kind of parallel Christians and Muslims. Jews and Samaritans shared a common background, but Jews were what you might consider “pure-blood” (to use Harry Potter language – sorry!), while Samaritans were more “half-blood.” Christians and Muslims are quite similar. Both religions believe in Jesus, but what they believe about Jesus differs. Christians believe Jesus was the Son of God. Muslims believe Jesus was a great man and a prophet, but not quite God.

So I think I can be relatively confident in saying that, were Jesus walking on earth today, he would reach out to Muslims and minister to them, just as he did the Samaritan woman.

The biggest reason I have been drawn to Jesus half my life, the biggest reason I am to this day head over heels in love with Jesus, is because of his tremendous love. Jesus’ compassion was extraordinary. He did not seek to be king even when the people around him wanted to force him into kingship. Instead, he spent his entire short life on earth serving, teaching, caring for others. He healed. He fed. He loved.

There was one group of people that earned his scorn, and one group alone: the religious leaders in power who wanted to exclude the very people Jesus invited into his presence. And even these people, Jesus didn’t hate. He loved them! But he also was upset with them because they continually hindered people’s access to God through their love of burdensome rules and back-breaking rituals.

And because I am more drawn to Jesus’ life of love than anything else, I am heartbroken that Christians have this reputation for hatred and intolerance.

Please don’t get me wrong. Of course I don’t want Muslim terrorists entering our country. But terrorists are a very small fraction of the Muslim population of this world. And I don’t understand why we – and by “we,” I mean Christians, the people who are supposed to be known by our love, according to Jesus himself – would be willing to shut out huge portions of the world, many of whom are trying to escape the same terrorist Islamic group(s) that we hope to eradicate, on the tiny possibility that we’ll allow a terrorist into our country.

Lest we forget: one of the two shooters in San Bernandino was born right here in the United States.

And should we want to continue having a target on our backs, we – and by this “we,” I mean all of us Americans – ought to go right on ahead condemning all Muslims and referring to all of them as terrorists. If you’re a terrorist organization like ISIS and hoping to recruit non-extreme Muslims to your cause, you’re hoping and praying that the United States continues to do just that.

So I’m going to stand up for once and say, as loudly as I can, “Mr. Trump, you’re wrong.” We should not seek to ban Muslims from the United States. We should, of course, vet them thoroughly (just as we should do with everyone wanting to enter, not just Muslims) and do due diligence to prevent those with terrorist links from entering.

But the only way we’re going to – to completely pervert Mr. Trump’s own words, thank you very much – “make America great again” is with love. Not with fear, and not with hate.

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