Sharp About Your Prayers

the challenges, absurdities, and joys of an urban faith

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Dear Mr. Trump

March 24th, 2016 · 1 Comment · Faith and the City

Dear Mr. Trump,

In light of the attacks this week in Brussels, I join you, other political candidates and all Americans in expressing heartache and solidarity with the people of Belgium.

At the same time, I cringe when I hear you call for “more waterboarding.”

Mr. Trump, you claim to be a Christian. You claim to be a Presbyterian. These claims have some validity. You were baptized with waters from the same baptismal font in Queens that received my father and my two uncles into the faith.

I serve the Presbyterian Church the closest to your home here in New York. I can see your tower out my window. You once sent your children here to Vacation Bible School. Although you are not a member here, we share many connections. Perhaps that explains why, on this Good Friday, I feel compelled to say something to you.

images-1The Christian faith teaches that torture is wrong.

In fact, for a Christian to make an argument in favor of torture is to miss a central point of our religion. In this I am reminded of the powerful words of the book of Hebrews: “Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.”

Here in the church closest to your home, we affirm our faith each week by saying creeds from the Christian tradition. One of the most frequent confessions that we affirm together is the Apostles’ Creed. At the center of this creed are sentences about Jesus of Nazareth that include the haunting words, “He suffered under Pontius Pilate.”

Our most ancient confession highlights the fact that Jesus was tortured by the Roman government. This is the same Jesus who admonished his followers with the most uncomfortable ethical charge of all time: “Love your enemies.”

I am not (I like to think) naïve; I realize there are people in the world whose hatred knows no bounds. Yet, as fellow Christians, when we think about protecting ourselves and those we love, we must also grapple with the torture of Jesus. When we as a nation advocate for dehumanizing treatment and state-sponsored suffering, we are walking down a very dark path.

Yes, there are twisted people out there—people who even now are dreaming up terrible possibilities. Yet, despite the great burden that this places on our leaders, I implore you to remember Good Friday. As someone vying for the most powerful office in the land, I beg you, do not give in to the temptation to become what we so rightfully despise.


Your Neighbor–SBJ

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One Comment so far ↓

  • Laura FissingerNo Gravatar

    Rev. Scott, thanks for your letter to Mr. Trump. It’s the most worthwhile message I’ve read since he turned into a serious candidate. I pray that he reads it!

    It’s Christian in content as well as tone and word
    choice. Thank you for walking your talk.