Republican Policies and Christian Values: Inherent Contradictions?

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this post appeared at the HuffPost blog. The author has given us permission to republish.

Trump Iowa

As an atheist who was raised Catholic, I applaud Pope Francis’ recent rebuke of Donald Trump and his wall fetish. Responding to a reporter about his views on Trump, following his visit to the border city of Juárez, Mexico, Pope Francis famously said:

A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel.

While the bombastic billionaire and leading Republican presidential candidate wasted no time to defend his Christian faith (Presbyterianism), he chastised Pope Francis and absurdly accused him of being a pawn of the Mexican government. This is the same government and its leaders whom Pope Francis, while in Mexico City, hectored in fostering a society plagued with violence and drugs. This didn’t stop devout Catholic and former Republican candidate Jeb Bush (aka “low energy,”) to defend Trump. Given the inhumane positions that many of the Republican candidates have adopted to appeal to the angriest members of their party, it seems to me that Pop Francis’ public scolding of Trump also applies to his competitors and the GOP leadership. Hence, to better understand whether the GOP’s actions and rhetoric conflict with Christian values, let’s explore a few popular Christian tenets and commandments. To avoid a theological debate, I’ll just paraphrase a few and provide some commentary.

“Thou shalt love thy neighbor…”: This is a popular Christian tenet that many of us are familiar with since childhood. The last time I checked Google Earth, Mexico is our southern neighbor. Thus, given that Mexico represents a friendly government in the arenas of diplomatic relations, trade agreements and tourism, why do Republican leaders continually bash our friendly neighbor like a piñata at a kid’s birthday party? Apart from foreign countries, while Latino immigrants may not live in the same neighborhoods as privileged Republican leaders, many of them do live in nearby neighborhoods and cities. As neighbors, these honest, hardworking individuals represent a vital labor pool, particularly in the low-wage service sector that Americans benefit from. This includes childcare, elderly care, house cleaning, dry cleaning, landscape gardening, etc.

Doesn’t the GOP’s lack of love or respect for our neighbors —both outside and inside of our borders— represent a violation of Christian values? It makes no sense to me. Yet, what do I know, I’m an atheist.

“Thou shalt not steal”: While Republican leaders have no problem bashing Mexico and its citizens for migrating to El Norte, let’s not forget that in 1848 the U.S. stole approximately half of Mexico’s territory in the bloody spirit of Manifest Destiny. Does the fact that this land theft occurred 164 years ago make it inconsequential in contemporary times? What about the legitimacy of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848 that ended the U.S. war on Mexico? More specifically, is a treaty between parties legitimate when one party holds a gun over the head of the other party? While I’m not a legal scholar on treaties, let’s consult with the Native Americans for their expert opinion on this issue.

What about the labor the U.S. stole from African Americans during slavery? The same labor, like immigrant labor, which helped make this country the most powerful country in the world? While the critically acclaimed author Ta-Nehisi Coates makes a compelling case for reparations for African Americans in his influential article, “The Case for Reparations,” many American leaders reject this proposal. This includes President Brack Obama, the country’s first African American president. Regardless of the merits of this proposal, no one can ignore the fact that the U.S. benefited tremendously from slave labor.

“Thou shalt not murder”: This represents a popular Christian commandment. Thus, for all of the American leaders —both Republicans and Democrats— who supported the unjust invasion of Iraq, causing mass death, destruction and havoc, how can they, especially Christians, reconcile this horrific act with this commandment? While Trump correctly argues that the U.S. invaded Iraq under false pretenses (no weapons of mass destruction), he has taken a strong position of not only killing ISIS terrorists, but also their families. Innocent families? What about the children? Trump isn’t the only one willing to kill innocent civilians in the war against ISIS. Ted Cruz, trying to out-tough Trump, has argued that he’ll carpet bomb ISIS. What about all of the civilians that live nearby or are held hostage by ISIS? Moreover, the always evasive Marco Rubio doesn’t seem disturbed by the killings of innocent civilians in the war against ISIS. Is this a just way for Christians to wage war?

Finally, while preparing for my First Communion and attending mass at East Los Angeles’ Santa Teresita Church, I still recall a sermon from Father John about how it’s easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter heaven. As someone who is open-minded to learn from a variety of sources, I’ll never forget this important lesson from my childhood. So, my question is this: once he dies, what’s going to happen to Donald Trump with all of his billions and huge wall that he constantly fantasizes about?


Alvaro Huerta, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Urban & Regional Planning and Ethnic & Women’s Studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He is the author of “Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate: Towards a Humanistic Paradigm,” published by San Diego State University Press (2013).

Tell Us What You Think!
rikimaru says:

The Talmud must not be regarded as an ordinary work, composed of twelve volumes; it posies absolutely no similarity to any other literary production, but forms, without any figure of speech, a world of its own, which must be judged by its peculiar laws.
The Talmud contains much that is frivolous of which it treats with great gravity and seriousness; it further reflects the various superstitious practices and views of its Persian (Babylonian) birthplace which presume the efficacy of demonical medicines, or magic, incantations, miraculous cures, and interpretations of dreams. It also contains isolated instances of uncharitable “ judgments and decrees against the members of other nations and religions, and finally it favors an incorrect exposition of the scriptures, accepting, as it does, tasteless misrepresentations.

The Babylonian” Talmud is especially distinguished from the Jerusalem or Palestine Talmud by the flights of thought, the penetration of mind, the flashes of genius, which rise and vanish again. It was for this reason that the Babylonian rather than the Jerusalem Talmud became the fundamental possession of the Jewish Race, its life breath, its very soul, nature and mankind, powers and events, were for the Jewish nation insignificant, non- essential, a mere phantom; the only true reality was the Talmud.” (Professor H. Graetz, History of the Jews).
And finally it came Spain’s turn. Persecution had occurred there on “ and off for over a century, and, after 1391, became almost incessant. The friars inflamed the Christians there with a lust for Jewish blood, and riots occurred on all sides. For the Jews it was simply a choice between baptism and death, and many of them submitted to baptism.
But almost always conversion on thee terms was only outward and false. Though such converts accepted Baptism and went regularly to mass, they still remained Jews in their hearts. They were called Marrano, ‘ Accursed Ones,’ and there were perhaps a hundred thousand of them. Often they possessed enormous wealth. Their daughters married into the noblest families, even into the blood royal, and their sons sometimes entered the Church and rose to the highest offices. It is said that even one of the popes was of this Marrano stock.