Politicians as figures of fun? - Protesting President Trump
If the protests over President Trump’s visit to the UK are anything to go by, politicians are figures of fun. Some of the cartoons and images have been insulting even though many see them as just amusing.
There is no doubt some of his comments have been extreme, such as the suggestion to the Prime Minister that the UK should sue the EU. Of course there are no legal grounds and the very idea is ridiculous at a time the UK and EU are seeking to negotiate an exit arrangement. But it is very much in line with President Trump’s image as a “tough businessman” who gets his way by threats of force (whether persuasion, bullying, legal action or, in the government context, even lethal force).
Extreme politicians who make extreme comments are held up to ridicule. At least they are in democracies that value freedom of speech. In many nations, of course, insulting a head of state or head of government is a serious criminal offence. President Trump has admired some world leaders who would imprison any objectors or even kill them, with or without a trial. Perhaps he wishes the same could be done in the USA. Or perhaps he even thrives on publicity so is quite content!
As Christians we might be dismayed by his immorality. We might find his use of threatening and slanderous language unpleasant. We might find some of his policies incompatible with our faith. Even many of his supporters are dismayed, for example, by the human cost of separating children from parents at the border in the interests of excluding illegal immigrants.
Many objectors criticise him for far right politics and for being rude and bullying. But the protests over the last week have been as rude and discourteous as some of his own comments. They are “fighting fire with fire.”
So how should Jesus-like people respond to such a President?
First, by praying for him. Not just prayer that he will change his policies or approach but prayer for blessing and wisdom. When Paul wrote to Timothy urging “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way,” he was referring to a despotic Roman Emperor and his governors who maintained order by force and terror. They did not deserve blessings! But he went on “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim 2:1-4)
Second, by being clear what is important to us. That probably means challenging some of the rhetoric and policies. But it also means responding in a respectful and courteous way as we should to anybody, friend or foe alike. Jesus said “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you!” (Matt 5:44)
We cannot pick and chose who is deserving of honour and who is not. If we are honourable people then we honour all others, even those we disagree with. Perhaps I should say especially those we disagree with.
The essence of what God requires is ‘Love God and love your neighbour’ (Matt 22:36-40). Even politicians!