Yesterday, erstwhile evangelical leader Frank Schaeffer tweeted “To use human beings as pawns is despicable. Any evangelical that goes along with this hates Jesus. What's next? Freight cars?” A few years ago, through Frank, I met another former evangelical leader, John Pavlovitz. He was thinking along similar lines and posted How The Religious Right Made Cruelty Sacred and Compassion Unchristian on his blog. “The Religious Right,” he wrote, “has completed their wholesale reboot of Christianity and it now bears no resemblance to the original. It has fully abandoned its namesake. This week, watching Republican governors shipping exhausted migrants to other areas of the country in brazen acts of performative cruelty has been horrifying— but not nearly as much as witnessing the theological and mental gymnastics so many professed Christians have engaged in while trying to justify traumatizing already traumatized people. It has been a grievous thing to see human being who openly wield their adoration of Jesus, miss the stratospheric irony of their intentional mistreatment of those he claimed such affinity for while he was here: their heartless, loveless response to those he called ‘the least of these,’ in the way the world disregarded and injured them. They find all of this perfectly fine, even Christian.”
“Republican Christians have so lost the plot, that affirming anything remotely compassionate or decent now feels to them like a political attack; so fully embraced a Christianity of cruelty that actual empathy seems an act of defiant resistance to them… And the simple reason,” he continued, “is because the leaders of the Republican party and the Evangelical ministers in bed with them, no longer care to be burdened by the expansive heart of Jesus, the basic goodness he preached, the people he poured out his life for. And so his values now seem offensive to them, his words are convicting, his very life feels confrontational. The extravagant love, overflowing compassion, and sacrificial generosity that marked him are foreign to their ears and threatening to their sensibilities. And these things all have no home in their religion. The very idea that coming to the aid of refugees and migrants now feels like culture war salvos to Republicans, instead of the beautiful defense of the inherent value of all people that it is— should be a red flag to people who are paying attention. It should be an alarm, warning them that things have gone sideways— especially to those folks who claim faith.”
Charlie Sykes was once one of those frozen-hearted Republicans, but he’s crossed over to the light now. Yesterday he also wrote with disgust about how DeSantis and Abbott are using refugee families as political campaign props. Sykes wrote that they “have every right to raise questions about border policies; they can make speeches, hold press conferences, run ads, raise money off anti-immigrant outrage, and even stage political events to highlight their positions. And there is nothing inherently awful about political stunts, especially in our media-besotted political environment. But this one is different, because they chose to use people— including vulnerable children— as their pawns and props… Those planes were filled with actual human beings. People with dignity. People with hopes and dreams, problems and challenges. People with names and families. And this Christian man used them as props. He didn’t clothe the naked or feed the hungry. He literally did the opposite: Evicted them— and not because he felt that he had to, because it was a requirement of the law. But because he saw that he could use them as a means to the ends of his personal ambition.
For MAGA extremists everything Jesus ever said or ever came to stand for, is the enemy. They have their own deep thinkers. Just ask MAGA crazy Blake Masters, for whom his rumored ex-lover, Peter Thiel, purchased the GOP Arizona Senate nomination. Just over a month ago, the Associated Press’ Jonathan Cooper reported that “An interviewer asked Arizona Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters to pick a ‘subversive thinker’ whom people should know more about. Masters gave it some thought and came up with a risky response for someone running for elected office. He picked the Unabomber… Theodore Kaczynski… Masters said he doesn’t endorse all of Kaczynski’s views, but ‘there’s a lot of insight there.’ Kaczynski’s 35,000-word manifesto, which blames technological progress for societal ills, has found a loyal following. ‘He had a lot to say about the political left, about how they all have inferiority complexes and fundamentally hate anything like goodness, truth, beauty, justice,’ Masters said… Trump last week called Masters ‘a brilliant mind who truly supports the MAGA movement and America First.’”