Thrusting himself into the heated American presidential campaign, Pope Francis declared Thursday that Donald Trump is "not Christian" if he wants to address illegal immigration only by building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.Ahem. Let's think about this one:
Trump fired back ferociously, saying it was "disgraceful" for a religious leader to question a person's faith.
I am no fan of Donald Trump, but the statement as reported shows the problem quite clearly. Trump is hardly basing his whole immigration policy on building a wall on the border. He has plenty of other proposals, some more realistic than others. So we'll grant that much to Trump.
Then again, is it really "disgraceful" for a religious leader to question a person's faith? Seems to me it's part of the job description, at least if questioning means challenging. We are all called to recognize our sin and to be better disciples. See if you can spot the flaw in Trump's response:
"For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful," he said at a campaign stop in South Carolina, which holds a key primary on Saturday. "I am proud to be a Christian, and as president I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened."The secret word here is "proud." Proverbs 21:24 could have been written with someone in mind:
The proud and arrogant person--"Mocker" is his name-- behaves with insolent fury.
I'd also add that an admonition directed at a political candidate does not equate to an attack on Christianity itself. And if you listen to Francis consistently, he's made humility a recurring theme in his papacy, as he should. And if you want a New Testament reference, try Romans 12:3 --
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
Anyone who takes the idea of humility to heart is unlikely to run for president, and there's usually a thin line between bravado and salesmanship. We can stipulate that and still suggest that pride is usually problematic. Inasmuch as a politician is supposed to be a public servant, excessive pride is a fundamental trait for many people who currently populate our governmental agencies, especially at the federal level. I'm not sure if any of the people running for president understand the problem, but I especially worry about Donald Trump in that regard.