In the Trump Era, Politics and Pews Don't Mix

The Left won’t rest until it has politicized everything, including Christianity:

Christ Church in Alexandria, Va., a historic Episcopal church, hasn’t been a particularly political congregation. It has welcomed Democratic and Republican presidents. George Washington and Robert E. Lee were members. Stone plaques commemorating them adorn a wall.

Then last year, Richard Spencer, the leader of a white nationalist organization, rented office space in Alexandria. Several parishioners organized protests outside his office, which became bimonthly events. The church released a written statement denouncing white supremacy, and later decided to remove the plaques honoring Washington, who owned slaves, and Lee, who led the Confederate Army.

“We just have to keep standing up,” said David Hoover, 61, a member of the church who helped organize the protests outside Mr. Spencer’s office and is encouraged by the church’s sharper political tone.

That same foray into politics outraged other members. After the announcement that the plaques would be removed, at least 30 people quit the congregation, according to current and former parishioners, including some who had been there for decades. “There is no sanctuary at Christ Church, just a battleground,” Riki Ellison, 57, a former NFL player, wrote to fellow members of his family’s decision to leave.


This is how the Left works: by covering its attack on the past by using the values of the present in order to command the dialogue of the future. The essence of Christianity is forgiveness, but clearly George Washington and Thomas Jefferson must be made to suffer for their sins, even if they weren’t regarded as sins at the time. But hey — better to virtue-signal than actually to be virtuous in a religious sense:

Political activism is reshaping what it means to go to mainline Protestant churches in the Trump era, with tensions bubbling between parishioners who believe church should be a force for political change, and those who believe it should be a haven for spiritual renewal. Galvanized by opposition to Trump administration policies, these congregations, which typically are theologically liberal and historically white, are turning themselves into hubs of activism.

For some congregations, that shift has prompted a surge in attendance—especially among young people—something mainline Protestant churches haven’t seen in decades. Liberal churches are organizing rallies, taking on racial issues and offering sanctuary to undocumented immigrants. Some clergy have returned to the front lines of protests, where they are playing more prominent roles than any time since the Vietnam War.

These moves have alienated conservatives, or worshipers who think politics has little place in church. Pastors pushing their congregations toward activism acknowledge their efforts could hasten the demise of a mainstay of American life: the apolitical mainline church where Republicans and Democrats sit comfortably side-by-side in the pews. But they contend it is the best way to follow Jesus’ example—and maybe the only way to save churches whose membership and influence have been in decline for half a century, having been overtaken by their evangelical counterparts.

“If we’re not going to stop the wall and the deportations, then I don’t think we’re following Jesus,” said the Rev. Kaji Dousa, pastor of Park Avenue Christian Church in Manhattan. “We’re just getting people in church, and that’s not interesting to me. The point of following Jesus is that you move and you do.”


Zealotry is unattractive whether it comes from evangelicals or political liberals — who are also evangelicals, but who simply preach a different gospel. But the very fact that a story about one of the most historic Protestant churches in America has to be seen through the lens of contemporary political passions tells you all you need to know about how meaningless its practice of faith has become.


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