Does Jesus love Donald Trump?
That’s a trick question. Of course he does. The son of God loves everyone.
But that doesn’t mean Jesus is a Republican. Or a Democrat. Or that he wanted us all to vote last November to Make America Great Again. That’s not how the Prince of Peace rolls.
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Same goes for Yahweh, for Muhammad, for Buddha — for all your major religious figures. They preach values. They teach understanding and forgiveness. They even sketch out moral and ethical codes. But they never, ever, ever — not once — tell the believers whom to vote for on Election Day.
So why should today’s earthbound clergymen who claim to speak in the name of the divine? And if these modern-day Philistines insist on issuing endorsements from the pulpit, should their sermons really be subsidized by American taxpayers?
Jesus was clear on this.
“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s,” he told the church elders who were trying to trip him up with a question about Roman tax policy. Yes, seventeen hundred years before the U.S. Constitution, he was already promoting the separation between church and state.
What brings this up is Donald Trump’s latest executive order, directing the IRS to quit enforcing the so-called Johnson Amendment. That sensible rule, which goes all the way back to Lyndon Johnson’s days in Congress, says that ministers, priests, rabbis and other clergy can engage in lots of political activities — anything short of actual candidate endorsements. If they insist, they risk their churches’ tax-exempt status.
No religious organization likes the sound of that!
But some extremists on the religious right want to pretend the Almighty was a Tea Party Republican. They want to slip voting-booth psalm cards into the Sunday missalettes.
They backed Donald. Donald’s paying them back.
This is already being challenged in the courts, as you knew it would be. Let us pray that some judge knows the Bible AND the Constitution!
Metro columnist Ellis Henican is a veteran journalist, bestselling author and frequent commentator on CNN and other TV networks. Follow him on Twitter @henican.