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November 2, 2019

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Paula White is here to build Trump and he brand, not true interfaith dialogue or opportunities. 
-photo credit MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GETTY.
Trump Fires Up Religious Critics With Job for Televangelist  –from the New York Times
Thus says the Lord:
   Maintain justice, and do what is right,
for soon my salvation will come,
   and my deliverance be revealed.
Happy is the mortal who does this,
   the one who holds it fast,
who keeps the sabbath, not profaning it,
   and refrains from doing any evil. 
Do not let the foreigner joined to the Lord say,
   ‘The Lord will surely separate me from his people’;
and do not let the eunuch say,
   ‘I am just a dry tree.’
For thus says the Lord:
To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths,
   who choose the things that please me
   and hold fast my covenant,
I will give, in my house and within my walls,
   a monument and a name
   better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
   that shall not be cut off.
And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
   to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
   and to be his servants,
all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it,
   and hold fast my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain,
   and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices
   will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
   for all peoples. – Isaiah 56:1-7
What do we mean when we say “faith-based”? For some, this might mean an interfaith or multi-faith (I believe there is a difference between the two, but that’s a discussion for another time) organization. It might make us think of conversations about how differences and commonalities in belief can bring about deep transformation in the ways which we approach the world.

Others use it as shorthand for “Christian” or “church.” I admittedly have been a culprit in using this inaccurate shorthand. Sometimes it’s easier to say “faith-based” and get a knowing nod than to say “Christian” and unpack all of the baggage that comes with that term. 

Trump Evangelicals use “faith-based” interchangeably, too, and with the appointment of Paula White to the position of Faith and Opportunity Initiative, we see “Faith” and “Christian” inaccurately merged. A Faith and Opportunity Initiative should be led by someone who has deep relationships with people, leaders, and communities from a wide variety of faiths represented in the contemporary American landscape. Names like Diana Butler BassWelton GaddyJack MolineEboo Patel, and so many others who study, organize, and appreciate interfaith and multi-faith work could be considered to lead such a tremendous mission. 

Instead, Trump has appointed White, a televangelist who has prayed against “demonic networks” trying to unseat Trump, and has suggested that supporters send her a month’s worth of pay to in order to reap God’s blessing, to a position where she could create great opportunity or cause great harm.
*Don’t know the names above? Click on the hyperlinks and learn more about these interfaith and multi-faith religious leaders. 

*Schedule a visit to a house of worship in a tradition other than your own. (Call ahead, learn what the dos and don’ts are, and learn what it means to be a good guest – it will help you learn to be a good host!)

*Learn about The Red Bench project from Interfaith Action of Central Texas. Consider creating a red bench in your community!
We don’t have all the answers
because too often we aren’t even asking the right questions, 
and so we confess
that through all our theologizing and studying, 
through all our boasting and praising,
through all our dressing up and shouting down,
we’re all just trying to make meaning in this world, 
to give hope to ourselves and others, that everything is going to be alright. 
No matter how or to whom we pray, if we pray at all. 
So be it.
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