UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Then U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump with televangelist Pat Robertson in February 2016.Photo by Steve Helber/AP Photo/The Canadian Press

When ugly politics masquerades as religion

A Christian critique of current affairs

By Michael Coren

One of the sombre ironies of modern Christianity in North America is that some of the most vocal and public promoters of the faith present a terribly distorted image of the teachings of Christ. Generalization is never a good idea, and there are many splendid church leaders in Canada as well as the United States. But it’s the likes of Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell Jr. and their friends who have the highest profile.

Graham is the president of Samaritan’s Purse and has more than five million Facebook followers. Pat Robertson is the CEO of Regent University in Virginia and chair of the Christian Broadcasting Network. His television show, The 700 Club, boasts tens of millions of viewers. Jerry Falwell Jr. is the president of Liberty University, also in Virginia; U.S. President Donald Trump recently appointed him to head up a task force on education reforms. All three men are media stars.

Since Trump’s election, their harsh, conservative interpretation of Christianity has become particularly obvious over refugee and immigration issues. Graham endorsed the border wall with Mexico, Robertson supported the Muslim travel ban, and Falwell Jr. and so many evangelical leaders praised Trump’s xenophobic policies.

Yet if any social justice theme dominates the scriptures, it is caring for the poor and needy, and welcoming the stranger. Look at Deuteronomy 10:18-19: “He . . . loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”

Matthew offers the sparkling and famous, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Jesus emphasizes that the outsider is to be embraced and that we are all one in the new covenant.

Yet too many Christians disguise their prejudice behind faith and coat their harsh politics in the words of religion. Which is precisely what we are told not to do by the person we are supposed to emulate.

Faith in Christ is more a relationship than a religion, and as with any relationship, it demands openness and listening, even when those may be the last things we want to do. (If you doubt me, ask any marriage counsellor!) When we do listen to God, we realize that we are being asked to leave our comfort zones and create a new and more inclusive world. That can be frightening, even for Franklin, Pat, Jerry and their friends. But that’s the Gospel for you.

The walls must come tumbling down, in every sense and in every way.

Michael Coren is an author and journalist in Toronto.

Author's photo
Michael Coren is an author and journalist in Toronto.
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image


David Wilson%


by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image


ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image


July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots


June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.


June 2017


by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.


June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.


April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart


March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image