Trump v Jesus – An Interview with The Bunion

Recently Donald Trump made headlines with comments he made about Pope Francis.  Francis made references to Trump’s stance on immigration as relating to Christianity, and Trump went in as he usually does;  full of bravado and insults.

With that we were excited as we already had an interview set up with ‘The Donald.” Intrigued at his ferocious attack on The Pope, we scrapped our previous agenda on discussing foreign policy and the economy.  Instead we wanted to ask his opinions on another revered religious figure, Jesus Christ Himself.  As usual, he was enthusiastic to voice his opinion.  Enjoy the transcripts.

The Bunion: Thank you for coming Mr. Trump.  Let’s get to the point.  The Pope challenged your views on immigration which sparked a debate.  What do you think Jesus would have to say about the tiff between the two of you?

Trump: Listen, I know Jesus.  He’s been an awesome messiah.   This is in spite of the salacious circumstances surrounding his birth.  I mean, who does he think we are buying this fantasy about a virgin birth?  I mean is he kidding or what?  

The Bunion: Wait a minute…

Trump:  I have people in Jerusalem right now who have proof that Mary was not impregnated by a spook, (though I love black people) or a ghost for that matter.  Joseph was under pressure and he owed some debts so he had to get in line and support the conspiracy.  I’ll be revealing the results of my very comprehensive investigation soon.  It’s going to be amazing when you see what I’ve uncovered.  But Jesus is a wonderful guy!  I’m just saying we should all seek to know the truth!   It should be noted that he himself had many advantages that I didn’t have.  As you know I started with only a million dollars.  Jesus had three wise men.  I don’t know about you but where I come from, the Italians associate ‘wise men’ with the Mafia!  Well anyway it appears they gave him more than some fragrances if you know what I mean!?  No wonder he’s held power for so long right?  The Pope is afraid to side with The Donald. Because he knows he could have a leg or an arm broken, or worse end up swimming with the fishes in the Dead Sea.  However, if Francis or whatever his name is apologizes, I will forgive him and offer him my protection.  I’m talking about better protection than Farrakhan is providing for Beyonce!

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The Bunion: Wow.  Ok.  Well, Jesus did perform miracles.  You do know that right Don?  Have you preformed any miracles?

Trump: You mean that turning water into wine thing?  That was a bootlegging operation.  I told you that Jew was connected.  But I’m not judging.  I love the Jews.  The Jews have been very good to me! 

The Bunion: But Mr. Trump, the disciples never mentioned a word about Mafia connections.  The books in the bible, specifically the gospels in the New Testament all maintain that miracles happened. Not just the ‘water into wine’, I’m talking about healing the sicks and casting out demons.  Are you disputing all of that?

Trump: I’m glad you asked that question!  Let’s talk about the ‘disciples.’  They were thugs and criminals.  You do recall when that Peter guy chopped off the ear of one of Jesus’ detractors.  Sounds like criminal behavior to me!  These guys were a rag tag group who terrorized everywhere they went.  If you read ‘One Two, or Three Hezekiah, you would know that.  But that’s OK.  I’m here to teach you.  The government was able to turn a states witness against him… Judas.  But he was also mysteriously murdered before he could testify!  Still, I think they all turned on Jesus because last I saw, they weren’t around when he was crucified.  Now listen, how can you be a winner if you are hanging from a tree with nails in your hands and feet?  People get excited about Jesus being crucified for their sins.   I don’t know about the rest of America, but I admire messiahs who don’t crucified!  Elect me for president.  I’m telling you right now I will not be crucified.  Crucifixion is for losers!  I am a winner!  

The Bunion:  Are you sure you want this on the record Mr. Trump?  There are many Christians out there who may take offense to what you are saying here.

Trump:  I’m only telling you what I know to be true.  Not to speak ill of the dead.  But if Jesus is alive, then surely Fox News, CNN or your magazine can get an interview or a recent photo.  I don’t mean a painting.  I mean Jesus standing next to a Toyota on Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles.  He probably would drive a Toyota right?  Whatever. He’s dead that’s my point.  I’m alive and I’ll never die.  Dying is for losers.  I am a winner.  My disciples are loyal!  Vote for me, Donald J Trump and America is going to be winning so much, The Pope will gladly beg to offer his robe and his sceptor just to have a meeting with me in the Oval Office.  

Editors Notes:

****Since this interview, a new poll shows that support among Christians for Trump has risen 18%.

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Next Week: We are interviewing Ben Carson and Clarence Thomas.  Carson will discuss his blackness and Thomas will discuss…

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‘Why I Refuse To Join A Church (Part 2)

Go to church but they tease us, with a picture of a blue-eyed Jesus!  –  Ice Cube

Well, sort of.  I don’t take these lyrics from Ice Cube’s rant from his classical African-American community critique “Us” as an issue of merely color; but rather ideology.

I tried to make this point in the last church I belonged to.  Our services were tailored in a fashion that allowed us to ask questions or make comments during the sermon.  As you can imagine, that made for some memorable experiences, both for the good and not so good.  At the time George W. Bush was campaigning for a  second term in the White House.  There was a heavy religious fervor regarding that election too.  Both Catholic and Protestant organizations were galvanized similarly (if not more) than they were in 2000.

My comment during the service was that I found the election season offered at least two different Jesuses.  Immediately when I said it there were cat calls from the other members.  “Oh no, there is only ONE Jesus.”  I think they thought I was being literal.  And I found it hard to explain, as I was cut off continuously.  My point was that while most Christian churches share the same basic bible for scripture references, Jesus’ points of emphasis and agenda seemed to go down racial, class, social and political divides.

I recall visiting a prominent church in South St. Louis when the subject of the election came up.  The pastor of the church said, “I’m not going to tell you who to vote for.  But I will say that I’m not voting for someone who is for killing babies.”

I thought to myself, “Wow, I can understand Jesus being bent about abortion, but he’s not bent about torture or bombings of civilian communities?  What about all of the other injustices and crimes against humanity out there perpetrated by men for political or ideological reasons?  Is that ultimately what this election is about?”  I’ll get back to that.

Later I attended a different church for a men’s breakfast.  As usual when the subject of men come up at such an event it’s natural for the meaning of manhood and how it’s manifested in society to be brought up.  Some of the speakers made a point of making sure that homosexuality and manhood had nothing in common.  In doing so words and phrases to describe gays or being gay were slung around.  They consisted of standards such as ‘sweet’ ‘sissies’ and ‘punks’ to name a few.  Then there was the usual reference to Adam and Steve.

While all of these black macho evangelical males “amen’d” and approved of this name calling, I raised my hand and asked a question:

(Paraphrasing)

“I hear all of this name and cat calling regarding the homosexual community.  And while I respect the fact that your brand of faith entitles you the right to have your own opinion that homosexuality is a sin, do you honestly believe that Jesus would endorse the name calling that some of you are using such as ‘sissy,’ ‘punk’ or even ‘fags?’ “ 

At that point the pastor was silent.  To speak boldly like this against the precepts of leadership in a powerful black church is not something grinned upon.  But one of the elders jumped in quickly to the rescue.  With anger he burst from his seat and started spouting off scriptures in Leviticus and how homosexuality was a sin and that God didn’t like it and neither should any Christian.  He was practically foaming at the mouth from the front of the sanctuary as he looked towards my way in the back.

I reiterated:

“I’m not discussing the validity or non validation of homosexuality as a sin.  What I am asking… is that if there were homosexuals in this congregation, (and chances are there one or more among this group of men) if I were a homosexual who was struggling with my sexual identity vs. what I believe my faith allows, would your words as well as your spiritual disposition attract me to you as a source of help, or would I be repulsed, insulted or put off by your tone?  Would Jesus address a person who happens to be a homosexual with the names you choose along with your mocking tone?”  

DEAD SILENCE in the congregation.  I think some thought a fight was about to ensue.

The elder grew more angry, then shouted something else before the pastor got up and addressed my question… sort of.

“I understand what you are saying brother.  And perhaps you are right that we can do better with the name calling.  But let me be clear, homosexuality is a sin.  Now let’s move on.” 

This, among other things at that time, drew me to the conclusion that as far as the evangelical community was concerned, all God/Jesus really cared about were what I called the ‘Big 3’  Abortion, Homosexuality, and Stem Cell Research- all of which He was against.

That’s right.  Let it be known henceforth that these are the bullet points on Jesus’ hit list.  But was it really? 

The question of Jesus and the identification of his agenda have been going on thousands of years, right?  In the scriptures he seemed to identify it himself:

Matthew 16:13-15

13 Now when Jesus came into the parts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Who do men say that the Son of man is?

   14 And they said, Some say John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.

   15 He saith unto them, But who say ye that I am?

   16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

In my estimation, this question is still the most divisive among Christian believers.  Who Jesus is- a direct result of what he endorses- stands for, evangelizes, and lives by.  As Christians (followers or Disciples of Christ) by very definition that agenda should translate into their own.  And this is where confusion and division has obviously settled in.

Let’s take it step by step.  While these are not absolute, I think we can agree that these are generally the focus, missions, and nature of Jesus, depending on the demographics and world view of the worshipper. 

During slavery a certain segment of the population believed that Jesus endorsed the enslavement of Africans which included selling, beating, raping and murdering people that Jesus/God created.  During this same period the slaves (often taught Christianity either from Catholics in Africa or Protestant enslaver in America) believed that Jesus would deliver them from their oppression. 

Similarly, during the Jim Crow and civil rights eras, The KKK (who defined themselves a Christian organization) believed as they do today that Jesus choose them to be superior, while other nationalities are inferior. Many churches, both black and white, believed that Jesus created, loves and values all men equally. 

These days we face many of the same challenges.  Some upwardly mobile church dogma believe that Jesus favors the wealthy while others believe Jesus is concerned for the poor.  

Let me give you a biblical example and how it may play out today:

John 6:5-14

5When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?

   6And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

   7Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

   8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him,

   9There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

   10And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

   11And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

   12When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

  13Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

   14Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

 Newt Gingrich

If something like this were to happen, one side of the Christian agenda would report it this way:

Boy donates food, Jesus takes the little and performs a miracle to serve thousands.  The people rejoice.

Another Christian agenda would report it this way:

Unemployed multitude threaten to mug little righteous boy who has food.  Jesus the self-appointed welfare socialist takes the food away from the one who had in order to spread the wealth.  Claims of a miracle go unsubstantiated, but Newt Gingrich says that Jesus should face prosecution for robbery.  Sara Palin said Jesus is an illegal alien- “just look at his name”- (Pronounced Hey-Seuss) and bad for American values.  Finally, Rush Limbaugh called him “The Magic Hebrew.” 

Ok (chuckle) I’m having a little fun with this.  But you get my point.  This conversation has political ramifications, but in this context it’s not political at all. 

I have attended many of these churches during my lifetime so I speak with experience.

The evidence shows that our depiction of Jesus, given his world view, is something either given to us by others or something we decide upon ourselves- based on our own background- sociopolitical, socioeconomic and dogmatic vantage point.  Christians decide which Jesus to follow based on what they are comfortable with.  That’s right.  Believe it or not, Christians have pretty much picked their own Jesus to worship and follow based on their own accepted set of criteria.

For those living in inner cities, their Jesus cares about the poor; thought not exclusively.  For many living in upper class neighborhoods, Jesus wants you to have riches.   Many ministers I know believe and teach directly that the level that God shows his favor and blessings upon you, and the very proof of your own level of faith is a direct result of the believer’s financial status.

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Some Christians promote charity and believe that government should help with social causes.  Other Christians are for cutting any and everything having to do with helping those less fortunate.  It’s happening in this country in a big way right now.  I’m not making a judgment one way or the other but more asking why is it that so-called liberal Christians believe one thing while conservative Christians believe something else entirely – while reading the same bible?

I’ve heard it said that it’s up to moderate Muslims to speak out against radical Muslims who are for violent and other unrighteous acts done in their name.  While I agree with that I rarely see Christians doing the same. 

When have you heard of moderate Christians speaking out against Pastor Steve Anderson and Rev. Wiley Drake  for praying that President Obama dies?  Have you ever been up late and night and seen those ministry programs where they offer to sell you God’s blessing for $500-$1000?

So why not just join a church that chooses a Jesus I am comfortable with?

On the one hand, that sounds kind of attractive, right?  But on the other, I’m not so sure about that.  My own personal evangelical bent lends me to believe that God, by virture of being the creator of the universe (which includes my very existence), has the authority to demand without question first and foremost that he be in charge.  If that is the case I certainly don’t need to align myself with a church that simply makes me comfortable.  Furthermore, I can’t fathom believing in a gospel that is not transferable to any and all communities in the world.   I can’t believe a message in College Park, Georgia that could not be preached in the slums of Calcutta, India just because the economic opportunities are not the same.

The bottom line in my view is that Jesus (as we know him) has been bastardized and transformed into a political football, tossed to and fro by whoever wields his name.  He’s been labeled like soup, and packaged for consumption like a Happy Meal or an Ipad too often for the purposes of manipulation, domination, or deceit.  That’s not to say all churches, ministers, or parishioners, liberal or conservative, are all bad or good.   But what is the difference in that or any other religious group that have segments that do good work?   The point for me is that following God as I want to know him is so profoundly vital to my own spiritual growth and well-being, dogmatic preferences and spiritual limitations cancel my mere desire to belong in such a  group.

Read Why I Refuse To Join A Church Part 1 here.



Easter Eggs, Speeches, Pets, & Billy D

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As we approach this holiday that we call Easter or Resurrection Sunday as the new term goes among Christians, I can recall how I viewed the most famous Sunday of the year.   My first memory was the first Easter egg hunting contest I participated in at the age of 4.  It was at Frank Holten State Park in East St. Louis with Mt. Sinai Baptist Church.  This was the first time that I discovered my competitive streak because I remember saying to myself, “I have to win this contest!”  I was fired up!  Next thing I know when they said, “Go!” I was out like a Child of the Corn snatching up eggs left and right under trees, bushes, leaves or whatever!  I filled up with more than two dozen and smashed the competition.  I enjoyed the praise from my mother and felt that first sense of pride and accomplishment.  Sadly I never won another egg hunting contest.  But who cares right?

As a side note on the egg hunting subject: I can’t help but remember my friend Allison who has three dogs.  The animals are her “kids” if you will.  And I remember that in years past she would have Easter egg hunts among her pets.  I witnessed one of these and it was just hilarious as she hid the eggs and then told the doggies to go for it.  Of course they would look at her like, “What the hell?”  Then she would blissfully lead each one to find their own eggs.  “Over here Snickers…look!  Ohhh you found it!”  (Clapping) A God loving Lutheran from Wisconsin, it was all about tradition and love.  I admired her commitment.  But it was still funny! 

The next thing that comes to mind about Easter is the infamous speeches we had to give in church.  I remember my first one of course.  I was pressed in my new suit and clean with my tight hair cut.  It was pretty simple since I was pretty young.  I stood in front of the church in silence, just long enough to make them think I had forgotten my lines.  Then burst out with, “What are you looking at me for?  I didn’t come to stay.  I just came to say Happy Easter Day!”  To which they all laughed and I was relieved.  See I was just a little tot, but that line was befitting my stage of advancement.  No way I was going to just accept saying, “Jesus wept.”  I knew that was weak!

When I was about 12 or 13 the stakes got raised.  At Mt. Calvary Baptist in South Bend, we had a sunrise Easter play.  No biggie.  I would just be a disciple or something.  Something without too many lines.  But no!  The teacher who also happened to be my principal at school Mr. Jordan thought that I should be Jesus.  I was like, “Noooooooo!” cause he was the main character and had tons of lines.  I was not trying to remember all those lines. Who did he think I was?  Billy D. Williams or something?  “Look man, I can be a great sheep!”  But no.  He said, “I think you’re the brightest kid here.  I know you can handle it.”  Geeeez!

The play was pretty serious which included me carrying the cross on my back to the choir stand and being crucified.  I got through the lines pretty well too with the exception of the one time I got in the middle of the B-Attitudes… “Blessed are the uhhhh… (silence)  …they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”  (Sigh)

As an adult, now I look at Easter as the one day I won’t go to church cause it’s so crowded.  When I attended church regularily, I looked at it as giving up my seat for those who would only attend this one day a year.  I also see the Saturday before Easter as the one day you don’t want to be caught needing a haircut cause you can forget it as every black man with a fade, crop, or afro would be lined up trying to get that fresh cut to go with that suit he’s going to buy later on that day.  Ha!  That is for the birds.  Now Easter for me is an easy going Sunday that I hope to just relax on.  Sure I remember the resurrection, but it’s something I tend to think of several hundred times the rest of the year.  Neither of these remembrances require a speech, a play, an egg hunt, a hair cut, nor a suit.  And I am cool with that.

Politics in the Pulpit~And The Identity of Jesus

Its funny how people talk about the separation of church and state.  Wherever there are strong church ties, the state has never been separated in reality.  Most every law on the books has it’s base within somebody’s interpretation of a  holy book.  This is the case in most major nations.  One could argue that even communist places such as China and North Korea have their own versions of church and state when it comes to the worship they require to be given to their political leaders.  I think the thought of church and state being intermingled are pretty acceptable to most. 

The issue in this nation in particular where one of our founding principles is freedom of religion, is that often that the followers of one religion, (most of the time extreme forms of Christianity) tries to rule over another.  This was particularly true when we look at the heavy right wing evangelical movement that helped produce two Bush administrations.   Bush who claims to be a born again Christian rode that Jesus train hard for two terms.

I still recall a church service I attended before the 2004 election where the preacher said, “I can’t tell you who to vote for, but God would not have you vote for someone who’s for killing babies.” 

After that I spoke to a congregation I used to belong to, and I talked about how there are essentially two Jesus’ in this country.  One who is concerned about abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research, and the other one who cares about the poor, justice, and a person’s inward character.  One Jesus who is concerned about all people and another concerned about Americans who believe in Christianity.  One Jesus who was for bombing Iraq and one who was not.  One Jesus who is for evengelism, and another for colonialism.  One Jesus is poking his nose in the bedroom and the other doesn’t care how  person gets off as long as it’s consensual between two adults.  I was in one bible study where I heard a preacher tell a married couple that it as sinful for them to give one another oral sex.  (They never returned.) 

Who gets to speak for Jesus or God as you know him in these matters?   I can tell you from personal observation, there is nothing in the bible confirming nor denying the ethicality of oral sex for instance.  I can also tell you that there are many lessons to be learned from from a Ted Haggard, the infamous evangelical pastor who had to leave his post after he was discovered to be involved with drugs and a male prostitute.  (mostly male prostitute)  After three weeks of “intense counseling,” with four ministers, Haggard was said to be totally heterosexual.  Just as a side note, Haggard himself has said to his congregation before he stepped down that he struggled with his sexuality for most of his life.  Tim Ralph, the minister who said Haggard was delivered from homosexuality, said that it was just a short phase for Haggard.  There was no word on whether the good reverend was delivered from drugs or not. 

I find it particularly interesting that Haggard pastored a huge mega church all those years before, and that the congregation obviously found some benefit from being ministered to by a gay drug abuser.   I am sure many people “accepted Jesus Christ” as their lord and savior.  There were prayers given by Haggard to his parishioners, and I am sure some of those prayers were answered.  And yet when this little secret came out, he was taken down.  I mean where was God before the scandal broke loose and why did the church prosper if Haggard broke all of the moral laws?  What sins are really bad and which ones are just ok? 

Religion and politics are always intermingled.  The key is how we treat one another who don’t believe as we do, and how we make these differences respectful and functional within society.