When a pastor at my church in Washington, D.C., spoke up Sunday against President Trump’s vulgar comments demeaning people from Haiti, El Salvador and Africa, it signaled to me that the president had debased his office in a way that many Christians found even more inexcusable than his personal lapses.
Because the church I attend is racially and politically diverse, the pastors tend to tread lightly around anything perceived to be politically partisan.
But Trump’s alleged remarks were so egregious to the Rev. Joel Schmidgall at National Community Church that he felt compelled to speak out. Anecdotal reports from across the country suggest that my pastor’s reaction was not an isolated incident.
A Washington Post roundup from around the country included examples of pastors from many different denominations, and in conservative parts of the country, speaking out against Trump’s language, and of even usually reserved congregations responding with applause.
Religious institutions also weighed in. Calvin College, an influential evangelical university in Grand Rapids, Mich., issued a scathing denunciation of the president.
“These comments sow fear and hatred in our country, and they are wrong,” said a joint statement issued by the presidents of Calvin College and Calvin Seminary. The statement called out the president specifically, and asserted that “it is our Christian duty and responsibility to separate ourselves from racist and hateful remarks and sentiments.”
“The world cannot be confused about what we believe,” Calvin’s leaders stated.
These responses from nonpolitical bodies demonstrated that the backlash to Trump’s remarks was far more than cable news catnip. It has the potential to become a defining moment of the Trump presidency, similar to his “both sides” equivocation when asked to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville.