Many congregants, eager to receive spiritual guidance about dealing with such issues, will be looking to the pulpit for answers.
In a Manhattan federal court this week, President Trump’s former long-serving personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, said that, “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump, he arranged unlawful payments to two women in 2016 for the principal purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential election. Cohen pleaded guilty to those crimes and six other felony counts. Trump, occupant of the highest office in the land, may well be positioned as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the commission of a federal crime.
Religious leaders, among their biblically mandated duties, have a responsibility to speak out about criminality, abuse of authority, and immorality, including serial lying by America’s moral leader, the president of the United States.
Most clerics, I dare say, are familiar with Proverbs 17:7 — “Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool — how much worse lying lips to a ruler.” They could, I imagine, spend a month of Sundays preaching about a president who brazenly and repeatedly makes false statements, sometimes because he doesn’t know what in the world he is talking about, but often with the obvious intent to deceive.
As of the beginning of this month, The Post’s Fact Checker had documented 4,229 false or misleading claims by the president of the United States. How can America’s clergy stay silent in the face of such gross conduct?
How can they turn a blind eye to a chief executive who treats the rule of law as a quaint idea observed by the stupid? One who considers rules and values to be only what he arbitrarily and unilaterally determines them to be?
As he is doing in the case of his friend and former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.
With Manafort found guilty on felony counts of bank and tax fraud, Trump pans the prosecution as part of a witch hunt that unfairly ensnared a “good man.” Trump praises Manafort as “a brave man” who refused to “break” while under federal investigation.
What is to be said about a president who has a Cosa Nostra slant on justice?
Trump, for instance, denounced President Richard M. Nixon’s White House counsel, John Dean, calling him a “RAT” for cooperating with Watergate prosecutors and telling the truth. Apparently, in this president’s view, and in keeping with his values, anyone exposing wrongdoing or providing evidence of illegality, fraud or abuse of power is a snitch. Dean paid a price for his misdeeds and went to prison for obstruction of justice. But because he finally spoke honestly, he is Trump’s definition of a rat. Imagine: that epithet from the mouth of a person sworn to uphold and enforce the nation’s laws.
Can pulpits across the nation stand for that?
Sadly, some faith leaders know full well that Trump and religion’s moral values don’t mix, but they stand by him anyway. In their embrace of Trump’s backward-looking social policies and coddling of white-supremacist marchers, his openly stated preference for immigrants from countries with mostly white populations (welcome, Norwegians!) and his putting down African American athletes and members of Congress as low-IQ, they also look past his embodiment of six of the seven deadly sins. Trump’s well-documented behavior speaks to his lust, gluttony and greed; his uncontrolled and venomous attacks on critics demonstrates his wrath; his outsize desire to garner the respect bestowed upon past presidents reveals his envy; and his excessive view of himself, his pride. From a religious perspective, he is in a complete state of sin.
Yet some preachers remain silent or gutlessly pivot their sermons to other less soul-stirring subjects.
How long can this Trump travesty go on?
In the name of all that is ethical and moral, call him out, and from the pulpits.