In an op-ed for the New York Times this Tuesday, historian Jon Meacham discusses the state of Christianity in America during the age of Donald Trump. He points out that Christianity, especially in the hands of Trump-supporting evangelicals, has lost its moral authority in the eyes of many Americans. Understandable, since the hero of millions of Christians "has used the National Prayer Breakfast to mock the New Testament injunction to love one’s enemies."
But according to Meacham, "history suggests that religiously inspired activism may hold the best hope for those in resistance to the prevailing Trumpian order."
"I’ve come to this view in publishing a small book of reflections on the last sayings of Jesus from the cross — a devotional exercise, to be sure, but one that’s brought to mind the motive force of a Christian message based not on Fox News but on what those first-century words meant then and can mean now," Meacham writes. "'Father, forgive them'; 'Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise'; 'Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit' — these remarks from the Gospel accounts of the Passion form a kind of final sermon from Jesus, one about forbearance, duty, love and mercy."
Meacham, who is himself a Christian, acknowledges that Christianity has been used as a tool of repression throughout history, but it has also been utilized as a means of liberation and progress, which he hopes means that it can become a force for good again.
While secular people want to see religion banished from the public square, Meacham contends that won't likely happen due to the iconic figures from the past and present who've used religion as a force for good, namely the late Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr -- men whose Christian belief "brought America to account on the question of domestic apartheid just over a half century ago."
Their vision "brought America to account in the mid-1960s — which was, historically speaking, the day before yesterday," Meacham writes. "It was a religious vision. One need not profess faith in traditional terms to share it, of course; no sect, no nation, has a monopoly on virtue. And as the fourth-century Roman writer Symmachus noted in arguing against Christians who wanted to remove an altar to the pagan deity Victory, 'We cannot attain to so great a mystery by one way.'"
Read his full op-ed over at the New York Times.