On the weekend, I had a significant exchange online with a pastor and Trump supporter named Marc Hamer. Pastor Hamer describes himself on Twitter as “Servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ … and Pastor of Refuge Calvary Chapel in New Holland, Pa.” The exchange began when Pastor Hamer objected to my description of Trump. So I asked him to choose one of the descriptors to which he objected and I promised to write an explanation and defense.
He chose “racist.” So I replied:
I was challenged by Pastor @marcreedhamer to defend the claim that Trump is racist. To do so, I will summarize a fact pattern which demonstrates over decades evidence of Trump's racial discrimination toward visible minorities.
— Tentative Apologist (@RandalRauser) July 27, 2019
Over the ensuing discussion, Hamer responded to my fact pattern by repeatedly defending Trump: he defended Trump’s birtherism, he defended Trump’s dismissal of African countries as “shitholes” and Trump’s preference for immigrants from Norway, and so on.
What is more, he claimed that Trump can’t be racist because he is demanding the release of an African-American rapper from a Swedish jail, to which I replied: “this comment is racially tone-deaf. It’s like saying that because a man has a Jewish lawyer and listens to Sammy Davis Jr. that he can’t be racist.” (I then linked to this New York Times article.)
In short, I don’t think things were going well for Pastor Hamer. In an apparent attempt to turn the tables, he then posed some questions for me:
1. Do you believe in the exclusivity of Christ?
2. Do you believe in taxpayer funded abortion on demand?
3. Do you believe that homosexuality is a sin?
4. Do you believe in the authority of scripture?
Of course, this list of questions is nothing more than a red herring. As such, I ignored it. In reply, Hamer predictably called me a “coward” and concluded:
“I’ll assume you’re just another false teacher in the same line as Rob Bell, Brian McClaren, Tony Jones, Tony Campolo, Steve Chalke, Matthew Vines and all the other emergents who are trying to redefine the faith.”
And there we have a sad but poignant illustration of far too many American Caucasian evangelicals today: they are vigilant in standing on the ramparts, defending their chosen boundary markers (although how they would actually define and defend each of them is another question). And even as they do so, they open the gates wide to roll in a trojan horse of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and general moral decrepitude.
It would be difficult to find a more succinct illustration than this of how the American evangelical church has fallen into utter disrepute in the eyes of the wider culture.