Pray for him? Sure. But …

resistttumpBy Philip E. Jenks

January 20, 2017 – Like most of us, I have a lot of friends who voted for the new President.

I don’t know why they did and, when I ask them, they tell me to give the guy a chance. And pray for him.

Well, I am praying for the new President, however illegitimate I think his claim to office may be.

But my conscience as a person of faith will not permit me to respect him or accept his authority.

This is not partisan obstinacy or even an manifestation of my dread of his unbalanced personality.

We’ve had lying, bullying, neurotic presidents before, and we survived.

Few presidents were as paranoid or mean-spirited as Richard Nixon.

Lyndon Johnson, like the current President, was an avowed racist who showed signs of borderline narcissistic personality disorder.

John Kennedy, like the current President, felt entitled to grab vag and press himself on random women he found attractive.

Even Abraham Lincoln, in the assessment of his biographer Carl Sandburg, was “a borderline psychotic.”

So what makes this president different from any other crazy person who has held the office?

Maybe it’s a matter of degree. The new president surpasses any of his predecessors in a myriad of personality disorders that – unlike his predecessors – he makes little effort to hide.

He has raised misogyny to an art, exuding contempt for woman who challenge him, unsubtly dismissing the criticism of one because she was spouting blood out of her “whatever,” dismissing other women for being fat or unattractive, or bragging that his star power permits him to grope and assault women he considers hot.

He is the most openly racist president since Andrew Jackson, associating persons of color with poverty, drug use, or inner-city violence. He began his pursuit of the presidency years ago by spreading the racist lie that President Obama was an illegitimate president because he was born in Kenya. He warmly accepted the support of white supremacist groups including the Ku Klux Klan.

He jeers with cruel condescension at persons with disabilities or anyone to whom he feels superior, most famously by mimicking a New York Times reporter whose arm is deformed.

He lies about everything, tweeting contradictory claims about his proposed views or policies, his relationship with the president of Russia, or the details of his vast international fortune, most of which will remain hidden so long as he refuses to release his tax returns.

One of his biggest lies is his claim to be an evangelical Christian despite his frequently demonstrated ignorance of Christian theology or the contents of the bible. He has yet to discover Jesus’ commandment to love his neighbor as much as he loves himself, nor does he understand who his neighbors are: immigrants, Muslims, Jews, persons of color, LGBTQ persons, and persons he and his legions consider “other.” Not only does he not read the bible, he says he never reads books. Which is truly alarming, unless he’s lying about that, too.

But what distinguishes him from his predecessors is that all who came before him were reasonably competent and qualified to serve. They read books. They attended regular intelligence briefings. They made some effort to understand the complex issues they were facing. They recognized their faults and tried to keep them under control, or at least compartmentalized.

The new President, as demonstrated by his tweets alone, is immersed in personal grudges and gossipy minutia while tweeting threats to Kim Jong-un as if he were Meryl Streep. He is psychologically and emotionally stunted.

We have never had a President like this one, and he now he appears on our horizons like a dark expanding cloud.

I know how much he is going to need our prayers, however unqualified and illegitimate he is, and I will not forsake him.

But I can never respect him or accept his authority over the land I love so much. He’s a human being and, as a person of faith, I must accept him as a child of God, a sinner like the rest of us.

But I cannot, will not, do not accept him as my president.

About Philip E Jenks

Philip, a synodical deacon in the ELCA Metropolitan New York synod, is a retired communicator for American Baptist Churches USA, the U.S. Conference for the World Council of Churches, the U.S. National Council of Churches, and two Philadelphia area daily newspapers. He and his spouse, the Rev. Dr. Martha M. Cruz, are the parents of six adults and are members of St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rye Brook, N.Y. They live in Port Chester, N.Y.
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