Yesterday, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour asked Tony Perkins, leader of the hate group Family Research Council, why his faith-based support of Donald Trump seemed disconnected from biblical principles of caring for the poor, helping the “least of these,” and showing compassion to strangers.
In short, why did Christianity inspire him to be such a dick when members of the Christian Left were using the same holy book to address social justice, racial inequality, voter suppression, and welcoming immigrants?
Perkins had one hell of a time trying to explain why his Christianity was the true Christianity.
What does the bible teach about immigration?
.@RevDrBarber told me that without scripture on how you treat the poor and the immigrant, “the bible would fall apart.”
— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) November 5, 2018
He was responding to a comment from Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, a leader among progressive Christians, who said it wasn’t “conservative” to ignore the poor and immigrants like the Religious Right was doing. If you took those particular passages out of the Bible, he said, it “would fall apart.”
Well, I’m not holding onto the essence of the Bible. I’m holding on to the principles of scripture, and as a Christian in America, what we seek to do is to work out, knowing that we are in a secular government, but we can take those principles and argue for and shape policy just as everyone else in our country has a right to do.
And I know that the scripture does speak to the poor, it does speak to the immigrant. But it also speaks to the rule of law. And in fact, in every instance, in almost every instance you read in the Old Testament about taking in the poor, the immigrant, the strange, it is then that they have an obligation to operate by your customs and your laws.
It’s the assimilation. It’s the rule of law. And that’s where many on the… left side of the ledger in the faith community fail to see the rule of law and how the two go together.
Good luck figuring out how Republicans, backed by the majority of white evangelicals, are merging compassion with the rule of law. They only ever seem to care about the latter. They don’t give a damn about the needs of women who get abortions, or the reasons behind why immigrants are seeking asylum, or the causes of income inequality. They don’t care. Whatever the Bible might say plenty about the poor, they prefer to focus on the stuff that overlaps with the GOP’s platform… or whatever the hell Trump wants to do because why the hell not.
As far as the rule of law goes, Rev. Barber understands that not all laws are worth following when they’re designed to suppress or oppress people. Even Jesus knew when to flip tables.
Perkins doesn’t really care about the law either. We have laws permitting asylum seekers. We have laws permitting same-sex marriage. We have laws permitting abortion rights. Perkins doesn’t accept any of that. Which means he’s not paying attention to the Bible or his own warped interpretation of the Bible.
Speaking of which, Rev. Barber was quick to point out exactly what Perkins wasn’t saying.
This answer proves what we’ve been saying about theological malpractice. He never mentions Jesus, admits he’s not trying to hold on to the essence of Scripture & refuses to admit that how we treat the poor & stranger is a central theme of the Bible. https://t.co/XoJLkdpHHp
— Rev. Dr. Barber (@RevDrBarber) November 6, 2018
Perkins doesn’t mention Jesus because the Bible, for him, isn’t about seeing Jesus as a role model.
He sees the Bible as a tool to trick gullible people into following his conservative agenda. The rulebook is simple: Pretend you’re following Christ, constantly speak about the importance of faith, and treat your ideological enemies — the ones who actually practice what Jesus preached — as persecutors out to silence you. It’s easier to put that plan in action when you have to convince people who were taught since birth to accept whatever self-appointed figures of moral authority told them.