Have the Prophets failed us in 2020?

Harry Welty

Is this what happens when an angry God wants to punish America?

I hope Martin Luther King Jr. was right when he reiterated that: “the arc of the moral universe is long but bends toward justice.”

I say this as a confirmed agnostic who has sung in my church choir for a quarter century or more. Even as I was discovering my doubt during my teen years I valued much of what God’s supposed son said. For instance, I approved Jesus’s call to pay Roman taxes even with a profane image of the “god” Caesar on Roman coins. But I disagreed with the other message I took from this call: that God didn’t care about government and politics. I thought God would want us to live a life that would allow us to sit at her feet in heaven. I didn’t see how that could be done by ignoring government and politics.

I don’t think Jesus anticipated “Democracy” in the political sense. But what is Christianity without God’s democratic love for all people as spelled out in Acts 2:1-11 description of the first Pentecost?

… Galileans Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappadocians, Pontians Asians, Phrygians, Pamphylians, Egyptians, Libyans, Cyrenes, Romans (both Jews and proselytes), Cretans and Arabs spoke in the same tongue of the wonderful works of God.

How far removed this seems from the expansion of the South’s evangelism across America which has helped keep American Sunday’s “the most segregated day of the week.”

The Southern churches seceded from their northern siblings at the Civil War confident in their belief that whipping property, selling slave children, and owners impregnation of black women was all in accord with God’s word. Later they approved of Jim Crow Laws and lynching. In my childhood they opposed my school’s integration and their preachers claimed that the “mark of Cain” was on the black race. Wasn’t that a rebuke to the reformer Jesus? Rather than lose tax dollars they reluctantly permitted a few token black children into their privatized white academies to be eligible for taxes to fund their barely integrated schools.

When a new Supreme Court under Chief Justice Roberts trash canned minority voting right protections that helped elect Donald Trump President they exulted. Now with the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg they are salivating to keep making America greater.

It was glorious when queers hid in their closets and the law forbade blacks from marrying whites. Just ten years ago half of Mississippi’s Republicans wanted marriages like Chief Justice Clarence Thomas’s to be made illegal again. And they don’t object to keeping poor people from enjoying the protection of nationalized health care such as that enjoyed by the citizens of all our socialized NATO partners.

But I wonder if our southern prophets, who warn us that God will punish us for our liberal transgressions like Egypt’s Pharaoh, don’t have some curious blind spots.
Television’s Pat Robertson, of the PTL Club, told us that 9/11 happened because we were a nation of abortion and gays. But let’s be honest. The seven plagues of Egypt are getting strong competition in the age of Trump.

The fall of the World Trade Towers killed 3,000 innocents but Trump’s “flu” has killed 200,000. Meanwhile tens of thousands of homes have been flooded by hurricanes while hundreds of thousands in our West Coast have fled conflagrations. And millions of insect eating birds have fallen dead migrating through America’s southwest perhaps due to a drastic loss of insects. All this while trillions of tons of glaciers melt, and the tundra’s collapse releases methane, and millions of scorpions swarm Australia because their marsupial predators have been decimated. Where have our evangelical prophets been as these calamities have unfolded?

When Roe vs. Wade was passed some of these pastors publicly prayed that pro-choice politicians would die. Now they are surely pleased with the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg because it will allow President Trump to replace her with another Bret Kavanaugh. But could God’s moral arc have a surprise in store for the MAGAgelical Republicans?

Maybe Democrats will take power in the Senate and decide, like Republicans have time and time again, that where the Constitution gives no direction they can change time honored traditions such as not packing the Supreme Court. Imagine them giving a new President three more Supreme Court justices to outflank Trump’s six seat majority. And it wouldn’t be unconstitutional.

Why might God have other ideas? Well, judging by the story of Pentecost she seems to like foreigners.

Harry Welty is studying French with a vengeance but still offers his eccentric thoughts at: lincolndemocrat.com.