Racist Fruit

June 10, 2016

Words matter. They have consequences. They can build up or tear down. They can bring healing or hurt. They can bring life or death. And so words tell us a lot about the person who uses them.

So let's be clear with our words.

Donald Trump is racist.

Regardless of your politics, this is a reality. I addressed this in a Red Letter Christians essay in March. Others have also noted it, including a statement by more than 50 Christian leaders. As racist 'white nationalist' leaders applaud Trump, the rest of us should keep our distance.

The most recent example came as Trump attacked a judge not on the merits but on the judge's ethnic background. Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan correctly noted the racism of Trump's bigoted attack.

"Claiming a person can't do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment," Ryan said.

But (and it's rarely good to have a 'but' when talking about racism) Ryan insisted he'll still vote for Trump and urged GOP unity against the Democrats. In short, Ryan said Trump is a textbook case of racism but we should all vote for him anyway. Jesus warned us about selling our souls to gain the world. 

To make matters worse, Ryan returned to the subject to clarify his remarks a few hours later after media attention flared up about his comments.

"No, I'm not [saying Trump's racist], I'm saying that the comment was," Ryan hedged. "I don't know what's in his heart. I can't speak to that whatsoever."

That's quite a line to draw. Trump's a fine guy who just accidentally spouts racist comments all the time? Offering a different perspective, the early church leader James shows Ryan a deeper truth at the end of a section on the power words and the danger of our tongues.

"With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness," James wrote. "Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."

James for president! Or, at least for prophet. Of course, if he came back to preach, our leaders might stone him just like the Roman ones did. Words, after all, are powerful.