“There are problems with impeaching Donald Trump. A big one is the holy terror waiting in the wings.” So starts an opinion piece by Frank Bruni in the New York Times. He says that Mike Pence is, like Donald Trump, “also self-infatuated. Also a bigot. Also a liar. Also cruel.”
He continues “To that brimming potpourri he adds two ingredients that Trump doesn’t genuinely possess: the conviction that he’s on a mission from God and a determination to mold the entire nation in the shape of his own faith, a regressive, repressive version of Christianity. Trade Trump for Pence and you go from kleptocracy to theocracy.”
Apart from his devout faith, Bruni presents no evidence that Pence believes in theocracy and tenuous evidence that he is self-infatuated, a liar, a bigot and cruel. Clearly, merely being a devout Christian doesn’t mean you are a theocrat, as many statesmen in both the U.S. and abroad, have proven.
Bruni thinks that Pence’s “version” of christianity is “repressive” and “regressive”. I wonder what Bruni thinks is the real or right version of Christianity – maybe the watered-down Christian-flavoured secularism that one finds in some mainline Protestant churches? That is not the Christianity of the New Testament, of church history, and it won’t be the Christianity of the future. Mainline Protestant churches in the U.S. are dying. There are some conflicting reports about whether U.S. evangelicalism is growing or declining, but it seems safe to say that evangelical churches are doing better than mainline churches. In Canada, evangelical churches are doing well, while mainline churches are dying. And I can guarantee you that Bruni’s preferred Christianity is not the fast-growing Christianity of the developing world. What Bruni wants is a lapdog or sycophantic Christianity which agrees with him on everything important as far as morality and politics goes. Needless to say, this would no longer be Christianity.
The worst thing about the article is that it implies that it is “theocracy” if Pence’s values influence his politics. But everyone’s values influence their politics, including Bruni’s militant secularism. This means, by Bruni’s definition of authoritarianism, pretty much nobody would be able to hold any political opinions.
If Bruni’s uncharitable way of judging those he disagrees with were to be applied to everyone, then no one would pass muster.