Thank God I’m not a MAGA Christian
It’s hard to believe in hate
My mother, her parents and her three siblings were among the proverbial tired, poor, huddled refugees of WWII-torn Europe.
Catholic Charities sponsored her family to come to America. It was 1951. My mother was 12. The family was shipped to New Orleans, sent to New York City for processing, and landed in Toledo, Ohio, to live.
The Toledo Catholic diocese gave her parents jobs and a home, and put their kids in a good Catholic school.
My mother had me baptized Catholic; as a newborn I didn’t question. I was never confirmed for reasons I never learned. I dimly recall we stopped going to mass, which to me was a godsend. Maybe it was because of my mother’s divorce when I was about 5. Back then, the church was very strict about that.
But my mother never truly lost faith. Two years ago, just as the pandemic was beginning, she passed at 82 after five years of fighting leukemia. As she lay dying in her living room surrounded by a handful of closest family, a priest came to deliver her last rites. It was a comfort to witness her comfort in that as her last breath left her body.
I deeply appreciate how the Catholic Church helped my mother and her family.
And the classic Catholic Charities tag line remains one of my favorites: “Faith. Works. Wonders.”
Yes, the Vatican still has profound soul- and institution-cleansing work to do from its history of horrifying abuse of children and other victims. And its fervent anti-choice stance and lack of women as priests and leaders sticks in the craw.
But 1.3 billion people, nearly 18% of the world’s population, are Catholic, with followers massing fastest in Latin America and Africa. They deserve respect.
As for me, an old joke comes to mind: The believer goes to church. The atheist walks by. The agnostic walks by but tips his hat.
As that agnostic, I respect every faith and follower if, like the doctor’s Hippocratic Oath, they do no harm and love all others.
While the Catholic Church has done harm, I believe overall it stands for good. Think best case, Saint [Mother] Teresa of Calcutta.
Compare that to the so-called “Christians” who follow Donald Trump like he’s a saint.
MAGA Christians may believe they do right, but they do very wrong.
They seem to be filled with the spirit not of the Lord but of hate — hate for Democrats like me, the progressive “woke,” anyone who doesn’t love Trump, and anyone not like them.
You can almost hear Satan cackling with malignant glee when MAGAs call themselves more Christian than anyone. Or send “thoughts and prayers” when children are slaughtered thanks to MAGA militant gun freedom, and believe books endanger kids more than bullets. Or when MAGAs defend, excuse or dismiss the violent attack on our Capitol to steal the vote from their fellow Americans. Or take nasty delight in “triggering the libs.”
These Christian MAGAs — surely not all — are the anti-Christ in the literal, George Costanza do-the-opposite sense that they blaspheme His Good Name and don’t give a good goddamn about What Would Jesus Do.
Better these MAGAs were atheists than desecrate their Temple of God — and degrade real loving open-hearted Christians — by wearing a sacrilegious cloak of righteousness.
If you haven’t yet, please see Michigan State Senator Mallory McMorrow’s now-viral speech with her powerful rebuke to her MAGA Christian colleague’s ugly attack on her.
In a fundraising letter, the MAGA Christian, Michigan State Lana Theis, accused McMorrow—a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom of an infant — of wanting to “groom and sexualize kindergartners” and make children hate themselves for being white.
To say Theis was lying like a dog would be animal abuse. In Christian terms, she was bearing false witness against her neighbor, one of the Ten Commandment shalt-nots.
This was not a gaffe or errant post by a rogue staffer. Theis knew exactly what she was doing. She’s a politician. She knew her crowd. She knew her hate would appeal to MAGA Christians who love to demonize innocent people simply for who they are and who they love.
Theis knew her base loves their hate so much they will tithe — pay good money — to fund her campaign. While carping about paying a few bucks more for gas or groceries, blaming Biden.
Theis was the actual child abuser, perfectly happy to use kids as swords and shields in the MAGA culture war. Winning, even the dirtiest way possible like accusing pedophilia (and it’s hard to go dirtier) is all that matters.
Naturally, when called out, Theis didn’t apologize; she played victim like bullies do, attacked back, and doubled down.
For MAGA Christians, LGBTQ+, “Critical Race Theory,” “woke” and “grooming” are just the latest cynical political buzz trigger words — more deafening referee whistles than silent dog whistles — calling a variety of twisted and trumped-up fears, from homophobia and transphobia, to good old-fashioned bigotry.
This would be merely sad and pathetic except that MAGAs are taking over the country.
Today’s GOP — lacking any agenda to make America better — is summoning the MAGAs’ darkest angels, using them for political power and letting them dictate their hateful ignorance for all Americans to live by. As go MAGAs, so goes America next.
Anti-Christian hate for innocent people and their allies is not the only reason I would never step foot in a megachurch full of MAGAs.
Or even tip my hat walking by. I’d resist flipping the bird only because that’s not Christian.
The MAGA megachurch would not only demand that I accept Christ as my Savior, but also a lot of nastiness that Christ wouldn’t accept and definitely wouldn’t save me or anyone.
You know, love of guns, which are designed to kill and do, including tens of thousands of children and other innocent people every year. Covid denial, mask and vax resistance, which has also killed innocent people. Trump and the despicable lies, hate and division and discord he continues to spread, grifting innocent people for power, ego gratification and of course, money.
I’d certainly struggle with the “good people” at the megachurch who seem to love Trump so much it’s like they forget that God said, “thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”
Good news: MAGA Christians with their utter disgrace of Christ may have a contrary effect on me, and I hope others.
Bless their hearts, they’re making me respect actual Christians even more.
If I ever considered following a faith, it would be to support real Christians and counterbalance (and pray for the souls of) the hateful MAGA fake Christians.
I also would be called to faith by Michigan Sen. McMorrow’s view of Christianity, especially the faith that she, and my mother, were raised with.
“Growing up my family was active in our church. I sang in choir. My mom taught CCD [Catechism].
“One day, our priest called a meeting with my mom and told her that she was not living up to the church’s expectations, because she was divorced, and because he didn’t see her with us at mass every Sunday.
“Where was my mom on Sunday? She was at a soup kitchen. With me.
“My mom taught me at a young age that Christianity and faith was about being a part of a community, about recognizing our privilege and blessings and doing what we could to be of service to others. Especially people who were marginalized, targeted, who had less … often unfairly.
“I learned that SERVICE was far more important than performative nonsense like being seen in the same pew every Sunday or writing ‘Christian’ in your Twitter bio and using it as a shield to target and marginalize already-marginalized people.”
Thus, McMorrow said, “We will not let hate win.”
What Morrow delivered was more than a political speech.
It was a sermon, a homily. A stand with Christ against hate. And a call to MAGA Christians to let go of their Trump-given hate and return to a true loving faith.
And yes, in case you’re asking, I need to let go of my hate for haters and try to love them anyway. WWJD?
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.