By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
If one studies how democratic Germany fell to Adolph Hitler, it is eerily uncomfortable and frightening to see what is going on in this country.
Those who lived through the morphing of German democracy into an authoritarian regime have issued warnings. America’s democracy is on the brink of collapsing, helped along by a political party which has decided that it is more noble to be loyal to an individual than to a country. Author Tim Snyder noted in his book, On Tyranny, that overthrows of democracies do not usually come from guns; they come through and with the acquiescence of the people.
In a very troubling article in The New York Review of Books, Holocaust scholar Christopher Browning makes the uncomfortable comparison between what happened in Germany in the 1930s, and what is happening in this country today.
In his essay, The Suffocation of Democracy, he said he sees troubling similarities.
Rather than uniting behind their country, the GOP, at least partially motivated by their resentment that Barack Obama was the president of this nation for two terms, has decided that in order to keep White power in control – “make America great again” – they must walk lock step behind a man who is violating nearly every principle the GOP up to this point said it stood for. They have put their trust in a man, the president, even as they talk about their belief in God, going so far as to say that it was and is God who put this president in office. But while they talk God they practice nationalism, which is called “Christian” because Jesus the Christ is the figurehead of religion in the world. They use religion to justify nearly everything they do, and work to make others believe that if they do not remain loyal to Trump they are in danger of going to hell, as noted in The Washington Post.
Absent from the religious bantering coming from evangelicals is any mention of the Jesus of the Gospels, the Jesus who reminded us all of the Great Commandment – to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our minds, all our soul, and with all our strength – and our neighbors as ourselves.” We hear little to no references to the Gospel, and we certainly see little evidence of fervent, Trump-loving evangelicals practicing what Jesus the Christ taught.
It is unnerving, to say the least. History teaches us that in spite of God, humans have the capacity and the desire, as they seek to obtain and/or keep power – to destroy other human beings who they think are in their way. Even though there has been much comfort in this country to having a democracy where certain freedoms are held to be sacrosanct, the reality is that it appears that many Trump supporters – including the GOP – are willing to sacrifice that very government for the sake of the acquisition of absolute power.
The question is, “Where is God?” and what can people do to call on that God for deliverance? Certainly that God was in the back seat during the Holocaust, but that same God was in the back seat during the Transatlantic slave trade, during the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans when the English came to this country, and during the period of eugenics. That God was minimized when Martin Luther expressed his racist views against Jewish people, and that God seems absent as poor and displaced people, including the Palestinians, are suffering all over the world. It is said that Constantine, who made Christianity a religion of the state, changed the character of Jesus the Christ from one who sought the establishment and maintenance of the Beloved Community into an Aryan warrior, one who supports and sanctions all of the “isms” in this world which cause people to unduly suffer.
The struggle is – and it is a necessary struggle – for people who adhere to the Jesus of the Gospels to make their voices and presence heard and felt, standing in opposition to a government leader who fancies himself to be above the law and God. It is real for people to be afraid, but it is counterproductive to give up in exasperation as the God of our Sunday School lessons gets trampled upon. The GOP and the evangelicals who have no issue with pledging loyalty to Trump rather than to God and God’s son have lost their way. It is up to others, who have largely stayed on the sidelines, watching, to gear up and fight for the God the parent of Jesus, who came to earth to teach us how to live in community. Silence is not acceptable. The possibility of a takeover and overthrow of our government is real and is a clear and present danger. If those who know a different God than the one being touted by the president’s supporters do not stand up, the nation will be reduced to a crumbled mass of lost opportunity to be what this government was set up to protect at such a time as this.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. Her latest book, Rest for the Justice-Seeking Soul, is now available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon. She is available for speaking. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.