Mon. Aug 15th, 2022

Written by Mathew Paul Turner for mathewpaulturner.com

Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”

— Maya Angelou

A day before President Obama’s second inauguration, I wrote this status update:

“The sheer hatred that some evangelical Christians possess/feel/showcase on Facebook for President Obama is downright abhorrent. Disagree all you want. Protest if you feel led. But know this: the name calling, the blanket assumptions, the curse words with asterisks, the exaggerated memes you share, and the complete disregard for President Obama’s position and/or his humanity showcases only what’s wrong with you and says nothing about what you believe is wrong with him. Rather than telling us with Facebook statuses or Tweets how much you love God and country, why not show us how much you love both by learning how to disagree and protest with a little respect and value for humankind?”

That update received a good deal of attention, it was “liked” more than a 1000 times, shared hundreds of times, and it received more than 234 comments.

I wasn’t surprised by the reaction. But some of the comments certainly saddened me. There’s a good number of evangelical Christians who feel completely justified in their hatred for President Obama.

Regardless of how one views President Obama, shouldn’t either “love thy neighbor” or “love thy enemy” apply? Even if you’re convinced that President Obama is a gun-taking Muslim socialist fanatic who performs partial-birth abortions on weekends, isn’t it Jesus’s command for us to love our neighbors/enemies? You don’t have to agree with him. You can certainly challenge his ideas.

But it is possible to disagree and challenge with respect. And if you can’t conjure up respect, you can at least disagree and challenge without being hateful.

But again, the Christian evangelicals who invest time and energy into hating President Obama, often feel vindicated for their feelings.

Many of them bring up the hatred shown toward President Bush as partial defense for their actions. And yes, President Bush was hated by many. Some of the haters were cruel and fanatical in their disgust for Bush. Even still, as somebody who voted for President Bush (twice), the amount of hatred showcased toward President Obama (often times in the name of God) seems to far outweigh any amount of hatred shown toward an elected official in my lifetime.

But you know what I find so annoying about these Obama-hating Christians? These are the same people who believe the “The Left” to be void of God, Jesus, faith, religion, and morals (and that’s not true) AND YET, they still hold these “godless liberal good-for-nothing voters” to the same values that Christ called them too. How can you expect a group of people who are supposedly “godless” to be kind and diplomatic when you, “The God-Fearing-and-Loving Evangelical Right” have zero ability to showcase your frustration with sanity and spellcheck?

I believe there are some pretty clear differences in regards to the hatred shown toward President Obama and the hatred showcased toward any other president or elected official (that I can remember).

1) It’s a “Christlike hate”. Yes, I know; those words shouldn’t make a lick of sense. But sadly, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Hate in the name of Christ happens. Too often our politics trump the words of Christ or simply get rationalized away so we’re able to feel what we want to feel.

2) The hate began as soon as he took office. There was no presidential honeymoon phase for President Obama. Christians began hating him the moment he took office and have not let up. It’s certainly had moments where it’s been more palpable. But it’s always been there, sometimes just below the surface, sometimes proudly displayed for all to see.

3) I cannot help but wonder if some of the hatred shown toward President Obama by Christians is racially motivated. For some of Obama’s faith-based anti-fans, the hatred runs so deep that it shows up not only in their words or ideas, but it’s on their faces and pumps wildly through their veins. And whether or we Christians want to admit this or not, racism still grows wild in big and small churches all across this country.

And while many might deny their hatred having racially-motivated roots, that’s not surprising because we know that hatred blinds people. Sooner or later, a person who holds deep seeded hatred in their mind and heart lose the ability to see clearly what’s in front of them, what they sound like, what they look like, how angry they come across.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee wrote “Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of (another)… There are just some kind of men who – who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.”

And we can, look down our streets or on our Facebook threads and see the results.

What is the remedy? I honestly don’t know. It’s rarely possible to help a person see what they say and do as hatred. That’s often true for me. Because hatred is blinding. Because hatred is so chock-full of pride and insecurity that it often takes an act of God to get people to open their eyes and see, really see…

But that’s my prayer: May God help us see.

 

By OEN

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