“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
Maybe you saw the news. This weekend, a “Christian” crowdfunding site is facilitating support for the family of Kyle Rittenhouse, the gunman who murdered two people in cold blood in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The goal? To ensure Barabbas walks free.
President Donald Trump has already vocalized his support of Rittenhouse’s disturbing, meticulous actions, so it’s no surprise that his legions of evangelical Christian supporters—those responsible for putting him in the White House in the first place—aren’t far behind.
Each day, it seems, evangelical Christianity plummets further into the depths of total and irredeemable depravity. Yes, irredeemable. Irredeemable because they no longer sulk when mustering an explanation for their untoward support of Trump. Rather, quite mesmerized, they excitedly defend him.
They honor him.
They … love him.
And as horrifically damaging as that all is to the faith, the support of Rittenhouse is different. It crosses an even more lurid line.
Consider, for a moment, that followers of Jesus, the God-man who demanded, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” would instead fanatically defend someone who lifted a weapon, aimed, and took the life of two fellow children of God.
Don’t be confused. These Trump-supporting Christians? They know the words of Jesus, chapter and verse. They just don’t care any more.
When Barabbas was on the platform beside Jesus, Pilate was convinced he had stacked the deck correctly. Barabbas, of course, was a convicted murderer. He had broken Rome’s laws. He had terrorized the people. Jesus, meanwhile, could continue his peaceful (if not annoying) political protests and terribly exhausting revival events, but at least justice would be served.
But Pilate hadn’t properly calculated the visceral, unabashed, blind hatred from the people in the crowd. Hatred that was unfounded, yet had been strategically stoked from certain leaders.
They were told what to think.
They were told who to hate.
They were told when to seethe.
And instead of trusting the words of their savior, who stood before them, they chose poorly.
Eighty-nine percent of evangelical Christians marched into their ballot box on November 8, and pulled the lever for Donald J. Trump. Trump the unapologetic adulterer. Trump the unabashed liar. Trump the proud con-man. Trump, who once famously quipped, “I don’t need God’s forgiveness.”
The Bible makes the claim “Whoever causes the upright to go astray in an evil way, he will fall into his own trap.” (Pr. 28:10). We know that this probably won’t end well for Trump, either in this life or the next. But there still remains the problem of how to fix evangelical Christianity. 89 percent of it, to be precise.
Regardless of the messy history that brought us to this point, we’re now in 2020 and evangelical Christians will have the opportunity to right the ship–to choose, finally, the narrow gate. It appears, in a logic that probably runs contrary to every instinct of evangelical Christians, that the best choice is Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.
3. Health care as a human right
Sanders is probably most known for what many deem “radical” proposals, chief among them “Medicare-for-All.” Depending on what media you digest, this is either the first step toward the downward spiral of socialism, or an exhaustively belated answer to the healthcare crises in America. The truth is much closer to the latter.
Medicare-for-All doesn’t get rid of doctors, nurses, or services at a hospital. Rather, it seeks to end the profiteering of the health insurance industry. According to the National Institutes of Health, over 26,000 Americans die every year due to the lack of adequate health care coverage. That number, of course, doesn’t take into account those who lose their life savings due to an illness. Meanwhile, as we get collectively get sick and die, health insurance companies are Scrooge McDucking every night into a pool of record profits.
That, obviously, is a problem. One that seems on the surface to be antithetical to the way of Jesus–because it is.
As Jesus of Nazareth traveled through the ancient near east, he performed many miracles, and primary among them was healing the sick. Later, he commissioned his disciples (and yes, that includes you and me) to do the same. Even the first Christians were notorious for caring for the sick, even if it cost them their lives.
In 2020, that just means we have to pay more in taxes.
Yes, there are costs to health care. It probably means we’ll all pay a bit more from our paycheck, but for most of us, it wouldn’t even be noticeable–especially when you remove the premiums that we currently pay into the health insurance provider. And though many might gripe about a “government-run” program, the truth is that we’d be able to drop the bureaucratic overhead of an entirely convoluted health insurance industry. Ever battle with them over paying a bill? Never again.
Medicare-for-All would be simple, streamlined health care delivery: you simply show up with your Medicare-for-All card, receive treatment, and go home.
2. Caring for God’s creation
In this day and age, evangelical Christians need an intellectually rigorous faith. So denying the very real, obvious, and frightening prospect of climate change is to live in opposition to our Creator while simultaneously denying the Genesis mandate of caring for God’s creation.
Unfortunately, many evangelical Christians are manipulated–often unbeknownst to them–by a media bias that is funded in part through Big Oil. That sad influence carries over into elections, where government representatives are wined and dined (and donated to) by lobbyists who hope to maintain the status quo, damn the long-term consequences.
The support of Bernie Sanders, or at the very least his policies, is paramount here: Sanders wants to get the disruptive and toxic allure of money out of politics. As one of the (very) few politicians to have never taken money from wealthy campaign contributors, his principles line up fairly well with acknowledging the reality of climate change, listening to scientists, and needing to address through aggressive policies.
Want to ensure a healthy planet for your kids and grandkids? Vote for Bernie Sanders
The Australian fires are not a one-off event. Nor the continued catastrophic damage occurring all over the world in the form of droughts, hurricanes, the warming of arctic, and other global phenomena that are attributable to man-made climate change. We need to act. And as Christians, even more so than the secular world, we bear responsibility to act.
1. Caring for the least
Imagine you’re sitting before Christ at the Sermon on the Mount. Christ is delivering the beatitudes, and as he makes you and everyone else more and more uncomfortable (it was kind of histhing), a wealthy local stands up and shouts back, “Well … well, maybe they shouldn’t come here illegally in the FIRST place!”
Jesus didn’t lose his temper often, but I have to imagine this would have caused a few nearby tables to be overturned.
Caring for the refugee and the immigrant doesn’t have strings attached. It can’t. For the secular among us? Perhaps. But for the Christian, we’re held to a much, much higher standard. For example, locking children in cages at the border? There’s pretty explicit warnings in the bible against harming children. And no, Jesus makes no provisions for local, state, or federal laws.
Bernie Sanders, among many other Democrats (and even some Republicans!), has long recognized the need to address immigration in the United States. And though it remains true that borders are a necessity for national safety, there are humane, safe, and thoughtful ways to proceed that don’t involve separating children from their parents, and then tossing them into cages.
Outside of these three reasons, there’s a litany of others that deserve as much mention: providing universal childcare, and reforming a criminal justice system that targets those on the margins, are of critical importance with strong, biblical cases behind each.
Regardless, in 2020, evangelical Christians can no longer use ignorance as an excuse to support Donald Trump. He’s shown his cards, and it’s without debate that he’s an evil, thoughtless, and yes, godless man, who is more interested in provocation than forgiveness. Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, is running a Presidential campaign not focused on himself, but rather, the least among us. That’s a message any Christian could get behind.