Over the course of the last 7 months, I’ve had too many conversations with folks who were frustrated with how Trump was mishandling the Pandemic of 2020, aka Covid-19. It collectively seemed that there was a collective wish and hope was to see Trump get coronavirus.
Honestly, this wasn’t because of anything malicious, in my opinion, but rather a moral anger that Trump and his worshippers needed to experience the pain and suffering he has been dismissing, scoffing at, mocking, downplaying, insert whatever negative response he’s done over the last 7 months as over 7.45 million people have gotten infected and 210,000 have died.
And then… it actually happened. Donald Trump got infected with coronavirus.
It was surreal. This never ever happens except in the movies, and even then only sometimes.
The horrible no good bad man got exactly what he had coming to him.
I’m going to be honest and say my first reaction was to experience an immense satisfaction. There’s a phrase in Korean (it’s slang and not at all a wholesome one) that perfectly expresses this feeling – 쌤통이다 (pronounced – ssaem tohng ee dah) and means, “I am satisfied with his misfortune because he deserved it.”
In other words, foolio got what he deserved! It would be used in a context like if someone teases a person about something and then turns around and trips and falls flat on their face. The person who was teased would respond by saying “쌤통이다!”
This is exactly how I felt when hearing the news. And yes, I laughed.
But many did not. And in particular Christians did not. In fact, they began to express prayers for him and his well-being, saying they hope God heals him quickly, and even more so, shaming and reprimanding those who laughed, responded “negatively,” or celebrated him getting the disease.
Now we all know the statistics and numbers of the 81-85% of white Evangelicals who devoutly support Trump. But many of these Christians weren’t just his base.
They were also Christians of color and others who claim to not be Trump supporters.
So, what’s the right response? What is the “Christian” thing to do?
First of all, I don’t think there is any one right way to respond to the fact that Trump has coronavirus. People have died. Loved ones have died. There’s been a lot of pain and trauma because of coronavirus and Trump has led the way for this suffering.
Does God honor the anger people are experiencing? The satisfaction?
I absolutely think so.
Does God also honor the prayers from people for Trump?
I also believe so.
Are there a wide variety of prayers that can be made on behalf of Trump, in particular that his soul would awaken and he would repent, confess, and beseech the people whom he misled to take the virus seriously and mask up, social distance, and be better neighbors to one another?
But as I prayerfully reflected on the response from so many Christians who’re shaming people for not “praying” for Trump and demanding that we ought to be better, I finally realized what was bothering, upsetting, and frustrating me.
It’s the fact that this is what Christians have done and continue to do – they elevate, defend, stand by, and support the abuser rather than the abused.
And Trump is an abuser.
He is toxic. He is the embodiment of harmful narcissism. He is racist. He is misogynistic. He is patronizing. He isn’t just an ableist but readily mocks the disabled. He scorns those who suffer.
While I believe one of the greatest powers of forgiveness is releasing the abused to be free from the strongholds of those who abused them, right now is not the time for forgiveness.
If you can simply because Trump has coronavirus and ignore the fact that he’s irresponsibly downplayed the seriousness of the virus that has led to over 210,000 deaths and 7.45 million people infected, used the virus as a racist tool against Asians and Asian Americans, then cool beans for you?
But you seriously need to examine how elevating and protecting abusers has been ingrained into your mental model. Why are you so quick to jump on that forgiveness train? Why does that make you feel good about yourself and bring you such comfort?
One of the biggest issues that was revealed from the MeToo movement was the enormous pressure for victims and survivors to “forgive” leaders who harmed them and for congregations to pray for their leaders because “they didn’t mean it, feels bad, and said they were sorry on stage” while trying to show some manufactured tears.
Christians are so readily wanting to alleviate the problem and move into the now all is forgiven stage.
From what I’ve observed, Christians are the prime group of people who have the most difficult time living in the tension and in-between space of anger/sadness/pain/trauma versus all’s well with the world.
We want everything to be fine and dandy, for people to stop making a fuss about everything, causing controversy, speaking up, being problematic, and to just get along.
But why? In what universe did Jesus EVER NOT cause controversy and challenge the system abusers created and abusers themselves?
Jesus’ call for us to love our enemies needs to be understood in the context of his entire message. Matthew 5:43-48 comes right after Jesus subverts the Old Testament teaching of an eye for an eye, contrasting the belief that one must take revenge into one’s own hands. It was a call to be better neighbors to one another for the sake of the entire community.
American Christians in their individualistic worldview must contextualize the fact that Jesus wasn’t calling us to love our enemy in order to preserve the abusers and abusive systems that harm the community.
Rather, it was a call for us to understand how we are accountable to one another – that there’s a higher more wholistic way to bring about justice, reconciliation, and restoration with one another as a community of people.
So, if you’re demanding that “praying for Trump” is the way of Jesus, I challenge you to pause and really reflect on why this is the path you choose and whether you have you advocated for the abused while also calling others to pray for Trump.
Have you also readily been telling people to pray for immigrants and refugees who are caged and separated from their loved ones and demanded the leaders of this country, including Trump, to create policies that are more reflective of Jesus’ call to love and welcome the stranger?
Have you spoken out and demanded justice for those who’ve suffered violence because of Trump’s racism against Asians by refusing to not call it the “China” virus?
Have you demanded for better health care for prisoners who’re serving their due time? Because Jesus DEFINITELY preached about how we should be treating prisoners.
Have you demanded that our country provide better healthcare to those who are unable to afford it, even as now infected Republican politicians and Trump himself are receiving phenomenal healthcare provided by these very same people who can’t afford their own healthcare while paying for Trump’s through their tax paying dollars??
As Christians continue to gather together in mass groups, mask-less, “worshipping” together thinking this is the great testimony to show the world the power of Jesus, they need to really examine their arrogance and dysfunctional co-dependent relationships they readily have with abusive authoritarian leaders.
While they may believe they’re showing the world God’s greatness, they need to understand that in actuality, these negligible acts against their fellow neighbors are the worst form of testimony possible, worse than the man with his megaphone shouting on the city corner of how you need to believe in Jesus or you’re going to burn in hell.
Trump and abusers will always have those supporting and advocating for them. That’s why they stay in power for so long. He doesn’t need my prayers. He’s got plenty of worshippers for that.
As for me, I will continue to fight and advocate for the marginalized, oppressed, and abused. I continue to pray and work for their justice and freedom.