“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” 
Galatians 5:22-23

“God desires spiritual fruit, not religious nuts”  
Bumper sticker 

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”
John Kenneth Galbraith, economist and author 

It is unfathomable to me that the so called “religious” right supports the current occupant of the White House. Exit polls in 2016 showed 81% of white evangelicals voted for Trump. It is abundantly clear that Trump exhibits none of the fruits of the spirit that, according to the New Testament, are suppose to identify true Christians. Nor does the Republican agenda reflect any Christian “kindness.” 

But this demographic has voted Republican for a long time. Republicans have been very successful at manipulating them with various “culture war” wedge issues. It began when the Democrats supported equal rights for blacks. The formerly Democratic Solid South became solidly Republican. It continued with equal rights and reproductive rights for women. The “godless” communists of the Cold War provided another hot button issue. Then there were the manufactured issues like the teaching of evolution, school “choice” and gay marriage. All these had little to do with morality and family values. But they were great divide-and-conquer tactics for gaining political power. 

I am reminded of my late sister-in-law who was a far-right, conservative Christian. She once told me she voted for the candidate who was a “Christian“ or supported “Christian principles.” I suggested she must have been a strong supporter of Jimmy Carter. Carter was our only true, practicing Christian president in recent times. Of course this was not the case. Jimmy Carter was not the “right kind of Christian.”  Apparently the “right kind” of Christians don’t buy into the feeding of the multitudes or loving your neighbor as yourself. 

The Bible is full of passages opposing greed and selfishness. Many verses command the pious to help the poor, widows, and orphans. Jesus said it is harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to Heaven. An example particularly appropriate for the current administration is Zechariah 7:8-10. 
“And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah. This is what the Lord Almighty said,  ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner, or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’  
Republican opposition to national healthcare, living wages, food stamps, and similar social programs hardly show “mercy and compassion” for anyone much less the poor. Their “zero tolerance” immigration policies certainly oppresses the foreigner. And they are plotting “evil against each other” with their latest attacks on Social Security and Medicare.            

Republican Senator Mitch McConnell is again blaming the federal deficit on “entitlements” meaning Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. This is completely false. It is a lie. Social Security is a trust fund paid for with special payroll deductions and is separate from regular federal spending. It has never contributed a dime to the deficit. 

Medicare does partially contribute to the deficit because the payroll deductions don’t cover all the costs. Medicaid is funded from income taxes and is part of the annual federal budget. But both of these programs have problems because the of high cost of drugs and medical care. Republicans have blocked all efforts to control medical costs for decades. Reigning in the high cost of medical care would hurt the profits of drug companies and the for-profit medical care providers. Rather than do this they blame the poor.

The Treasury Department says the U.S. budget deficit grew to $779 billion in first full fiscal year the Trump administration. This is the result of the  tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations and the huge increases in military spending enacted by Republicans. This is a 77 percent increase from the $439 billion deficit in fiscal 2015 when Republicans  gained complete control of both houses of Congress. The same thing happened under the Republican administrations of Ronald Reagan and G.W. Bush. Republican actions speak louder than words. Economic facts don’t matter and “family values” are just sound bites for the campaign trail. 

As John Kenneth Galbraith said this is all about “finding  moral justification for selfishness.” It is about justifying the the greed and inequality of our capitalist economic system. It is about protecting the wealth of campaign contributors and the 1%. Voters should remember this when the attack ads paint the Democrats as immoral and ungodly. God is not on anyone’s political side. I don’t know who Jesus would vote for, but I do know that making political issues into good-vs-evil contests is not good for the country. This is one reason why the founding fathers wisely fostered separation of church and state. 

What we need is rational debate on public policy based on the best available factual information, not made up facts or religious dogma. We need to advance the best interests of the country as a whole. We need  wise governance. We need leadership that exhibits the wisdom and tolerance of healthy spiritual fruit. We need fewer religious nuts. 

The Republican agenda is not “christian.” Conservative Christians, like my sister-in-law, have been played for suckers. Trump won Michigan by 0.3% or 13,080 votes. Wisconsin went red by 1% or only 27,257 votes. Pennsylvania and Florida were both by 1.2%. You don’t have to fool many of the people to maintain power.

There are two lessons from all this. One, your vote matters! Every vote counts. This is why Republicans push various voter suppression schemes. The second is we need to examine why we vote for a particular party or candidate. We need to think about the consequences of our actions. Are you voting based on political, ideological, or religious dogma? Or are you rationally thinking about the best interests of you, your community, and the country?