Illustration Credit: Timothy R. Butler

Look What Politics Makes Christians Do

By Timothy R. Butler | Posted at 8:58 PM

Opening up X this week, I noted that the present beverage brewing tempests were the Internet meltdown over Taylor Swift’s new love interest and the honoring of an alleged Nazi in the Canadian parliament during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit. The invisible thread binding them was the Culture Warriors claiming to fight for Jesus who made these the cause célèbre.

The Swift kerfuffle largely centered on angst that the left-of-center, but, (relatively) politically laidback songstress had a new NFL player boyfriend guilty of kneeling during the National Anthem back when that was “the cause.”

The Canadian-Ukrainian political scandal arose when a member of parliament decided to honor a Ukrainian-born veteran of World War II from his (Canadian) district who fought against Russian oppression. As people do when presented with veterans, those present, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Ukrainian president, applauded the man. A feel-good moment, but for the minor detail that he fought the Soviets as a member of Nazi Germany’s Waffen SS.

There is no indication either Trudeau (of whom I rarely speak glowingly) or Zelenskyy (of whom I am far more favorable) had any reason to think an MP unintentionally spotlighted a Nazi for applause. Too many of the U.S. political Right’s confessing Christians, however, in lockstep with a gleeful Russian media, quickly pointed to this as the much sought-after proof that the sovereign government of Ukraine is a beachhead for Nazism 2.0.

Never mind that Trudeau is politically far closer in ideology to the Soviet Union Vladimir Putin idolizes than the Third Reich. Never mind that Zelenskyy is ethnically Jewish and would have been sent to a concentration camp under the Nazis. Never mind that Ukraine’s government, for all of its well-known faults, points towards the sorts of freedoms we enjoy while modern Russia shares the same hatred of those freedoms the Third Reich did.

“Look at those Canadian and Ukrainian Nazis,” the “defenders” of faith, family and freedom in America cry out. Why would they want to cast those fighting against the closest thing to modern Nazism in the West as today’s Nazis?

The rationale for those same folks’ growing anti-Swift sentiment clues us in on their anti-Ukrainian sentiment. Right-leaning commentators casting shade on Swift and her new beaux do have a point that Travis Kelce appears to be a vulgar chap. True enough, neither he, nor Swift, are exactly champions of “faith and family.”

Then again, show me the celebrities who are — including the rare ones who lean right. The few exceptions are outliers enough that if you’re going to go after celebrities, Swift is not the most obvious.

Swift’s “danger” isn’t in her dating or any questionable participants therein, but the manic army of Swifties that rival yesteryear’s Beatlemania as much as any fan base I can think of. The singer’s mere presence with an NFL player’s family skyrocketed the sales of that player’s jersey. Her careful, limited political statements are unlikely to threaten faith and family, but Swiftie action might make for uncomfortable electoral results for her political opposites in a way few others’ fanbases could ever threaten.

As is usual in the hypocritical realm of politics, principle rarely drives outrage: protection of one’s political fate does.

Therein lies the key to the Zelenskyy hatred. Superficially, the Defenders of All That is Good would have us believe they favor the Russian President because of his support of Christendom and opposition to the Euro-American fetish with an ever-expanding list of LGBTQ causes. He stands for the things of God, they suggest, while Zelenskyy has pushed to close churches as part of his “Nazi” secularism.

They mistake a pro-Christian veneer from Putin for something genuine. The Russian dictator has brutally opposed Christians and anyone else who gets in the way of his hold on power. Even those who attempt neutrality have faced arrest by Russian forces. His heroes include the Twentieth Century’s greatest hits of enemies to Christianity. His present allies actively seek to kill Christians. What of his Ukrainian opponent? Zelenskyy’s big “sin” in this arena is to hold a line against a small portion of the nation’s churches that are actively collaborating with the aggressor (Russia) in its attempt to overthrow the Ukrainian government and oppress (or kill) the people. Some were outright spies, even.

Those outraged over Zelenskyy have had no problem curbing civil liberties at home if a place of worship happens to align with, say, a terrorist group. The fight for religious freedom this is not.

Why would the Tucker Carlsons of the world seek to cast themselves as heroes of Christianity by siding with evil actors? There is every reason to believe the real reason is as simple as it is crass: Zelenskyy refused to play a game of digging up dirt for President Trump to use against his political rival who later became his successor, Joe Biden.

Given much of the Right that claims to be Christ followers has become Trumpies every bit as much as Swifties swift, this was unforgivable. Never mind if it would be immoral (it would have been) or involve foreign interference in elections (ditto); Zelenskyy did not help their favored side win, so he’s bad.

Too many of those who claim to be warriors for Christ are actually warriors for MAGA. Biblical principles of justice and integrity can take a hike if it helps the “cause.”

Too often these Culture Warriors’ allegiance to Christ is tied to where the Bible and MAGA agree. Those places where the two diverge, MAGA trumps Jesus.

Thus the present moment’s most successful musical artist gets raised eyebrows for picking up a new boyfriend, but the constant deluge of MAGA-aligned married politicians philandering without regard to the harm inflicted upon their spouses and families is given a blind eye. “Family values candidates” — from the presidential on down — regularly make President Clinton look like the epitome of fidelity, wearing their unfaithfulness almost like a badge of honor.

Lest readers assume I’m a closet Leftist, let me be clear: both Left and Right diverge from the Bible dramatically, albeit at mostly different points. That’s why I so often criticize both.

Yet, if you are going to claim to be fighting for Jesus, then fight for Him, not your political party. I dislike hypocritical politicians, but I loathe Carpetbagger Christianity, where Jesus matters when He is good for votes. If you wave the name of Jesus all around your campaign, you need to live His way.

Stand for those who advocate for genuine freedom, not those who establish murderous dictatorships with Christian trimmings. Be less inclined to shake off the Christian politician who leaves his or her spouse for a paramour, instead of obsessing over the pop star who “go[es] on too many dates.” Show mercy, pray for your enemies. Love God and neighbor, not power.

Where’s our allegiance? Whether we, and those whom we support politically, are willing to lose in a political race to stay faithful to God’s commands is telling.

People are going to be sinful people. Christians are people and therefore sinful people, too.

But while it might be politically expedient to ignore the sins of one’s allies and double down on the sins of one’s enemies, that’s the way of the world, not the Word.

May we choose the Word, even when it costs the world.

Timothy R. Butler is Editor-in-Chief of Open for Business. He also serves as a pastor at Little Hills Church and FaithTree Christian Fellowship.

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