I was born a Christian. I was raised Christian. I still am a Christian.
I'm certainly not perfect and sometimes I even feel like an embarrassment to the faith. I suppose that is what fully actualized Christianity is: A pretty brutal understanding that you're not perfect and never will be. That's OK, because Christ died for you.
As human beings, we all experience suffering. In the journalism profession, boy, I can tell you I've been through the ringer. That's OK, there are lots of scriptures to help you persevere through tough times.
However, no matter the tribulation in my life, were someone to come to me and tell me that my suffering reminded them of Christ's suffering before the cross, I would politely ask if they were on crystal meth.
My suffering is not like Christ's. Neither is yours. Neither was Hillary Clinton's after her election loss in November.
In reading the odd, theologically confused letter which Hillary Clinton's pastor penned to her the day after her election loss to Donald Trump, this principle stood out. The underpinnings of the note Rev. Bill Shillady, Hillary's pastor, wrote to her the day after the 2016 election likened her suffering and loss to that of Jesus Christ in his crucifixion.
Here are some of the religiously dubious passages he inscribed to Hillary:
For the disciples and Christ's followers in the first century, Good Friday represented the day that everything fell apart. All was lost. The momentum and hope of a man claiming to be the Son of God, the Messiah who was supposed to change everything, had been executed.
Even though Jesus told his followers three days later the temple would be restored, they had no idea of what that Sunday would be. They betrayed, denied, mourned, fled and hid. They did just about everything BUT feel good about Friday and their circumstances.
For us, Friday is the phone call from the doctor that the cancer is back. It's the news that you have lost your job. It's the betrayal of a friend, the loss of someone dear. Friday is the day that it all falls apart and all hope is lost. We all have Fridays. But, as the saying goes, “Sunday's coming!”
Today, you are experiencing a Friday. Your Friday is what happened in the last few weeks and last night in the tragic loss. But Sunday is coming!
Jesus completed the excruciating task of giving up his life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. It was his faith and belief in his heavenly Father, that gave him the grace and peace to submit to Friday. While death had seemingly won, Jesus knew better. When he said, “It is finished,” it wasn't meant to be a statement of concession. It was a declaration that a new day was on the way.
Friday is finished. Sunday is coming. Death will be shattered. Hope will be restored. But first, we must live through the darkness and seeming hopelessness of Friday.
As a pretty bad Christian myself, allow me to point out two problems with these correlations:
1. Hillary Clinton is not a sinless vessel.
Disclaimer: I'm not trying to cast the first stone here.
I'm merely speaking as a journalist who has covered the political arena for nearly a decade.
After 40 years in one public office or another, Hillary Clinton is perceived by the average American voter as dishonest. Perhaps that's because she has lied in public many times. Poll after poll showed that the American public just did not trust Hillary Clinton.
A seemingly endless series of deceptions by the Clinton campaign added to the weight of her untrustworthiness in the eyes the American voter. To speak of her candidacy as though it were some Christ-like crucible is marginally insulting to the perfection of Christ and laughable from a political realities perspective. Even lifelong Democrats admit that.
So was Trump a better Christian vessel? Don't make me laugh. However, if evangelicals had argued that a Trump's lost was like the loss of Christ after crucifixion, the liberal, religions intelligentsia would have every right to make Swiss cheese out of that laughable argument.
Not even the loss of a perfectly innocent child, like Charie Gard, can compare to the loss of Christ. Christ, in his suffering, took on the sins of mankind, fulfilled the prophecy and tore the curtain between man and God. The cost was his body and spirit being broken and the world darkened. Thankfully, no one's loss is like Christ's, and never will the world see loss like that again.
Which brings me to my next point.
2. Trump is not Satan.
Hillary's pastor ends his prose by saying:
You know one of my favorite sayings is “God doesn't close one door without opening another, but it can be hell in the hallway.” My sister Hillary. You, our nation, our world is experiencing a black Friday. Our hope is that Sunday is coming. But it might well be hell for a while.
After describing how Black Friday is synonymous with the loss the world faced when Satan briefly championed over an entombed Christ, the Rev. Shillady broadly declared that because Trump won, “You, our nation, our world is experiencing a black Friday.” This type of rhetoric is just dangerous. Does Hillary's pastor disagree with Trump? Sure. But does that make Trump Satan victorious? No. That's absurd. Satan is Satan. Many Christians voted for Trump, others voted for Hillary, albeit in very small numbers. We should reserve our religious criticisms for the things of God and the hereafter. Not for demonization of our political opponents.
I'll conclude by saying that yes, I am aware of the religious right also lionizing politically from the pulpit. I equally think that is dangerous. If there is one thing covering politics has taught me, it's that no politician has the right to claim they are on the side of God and light and their opponent is darkness.
We are all fallen, politicians more than most.
Let's allow God to sort us all out.