Holocaust Remembrance Day is kept every year, in thoughtful commemoration of a very dark period in human existence, the 1930s and 40s obliteration of more than 13 million people, six million of them European Jews. We particularly remember the attempt to exterminate the Jews, because it was a war on their religion and culture.
Though we think such a hideous, inhumane atrocity might never happen to us in modern times, we have only to remember the Bosnian genocide of 1992-95, where 8,000 Muslims of Yugoslavia were massacred in a sanctuary town by Serbian Orthodox Christians.
We live in a frightening, blood-soaked, war-crazed world, even now, decades after the Holocaust. It’s one thing to read the news of war and genocide in another hemisphere or era, but it’s another thing to realize that there’s warfare all around us: police officers and children are shot to death because of drug trafficking or domestic violence; pension funds are lost and home mortgages swallowed up by bankers because of callous greed. Crazed shooters rampage through schools and businesses. Dare we say that we’re living in a spiritual Holocaust now? The flames feel pretty hot, don’t they?
In 2 Corinthians 1:20-22 NIV, God “anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” The Holy Spirit guarantees our salvation and protection of our souls. The seal of God is the Holy Spirit Himself!
Christians and others of many faiths pray every day for those with family problems, for relief from pain and sickness, that people will get a job or victory over addictions, or that they will discover God’s will for their lives. There are battles going on all the time. We don’t have divine promises that we’ll have miraculous deliverance from these temporal pains and struggles.
But Jesus has won the war. He loves us so much that He voluntarily laid down His life for our salvation. He came to live in our skin, and paid the death penalty of sin so that we could have an infinity of forevers, living with Him. We live this life with hope of eternal salvation because Jesus rose from His tomb, triumphant and victorious over sin and its effects.
So while we soberly remember the Holocaust, and vow that its evils should never be repeated, we must remember that we are living—right now—in the spiritual Kingdom of God, as citizens. Our Savior has promised that one day soon, He will return and personally wipe away our tears. We will spend eternity with Him, in perfect peace and joy.
“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
There is none other commandment greater than these.”
I wrote this article in 2004, for a daily devotional book called We Shall Be Changed. At that time, we were saying, “Never forget” so another Holocaust would be impossible. In solidarity with Jews around the world, we mourned the loss of millions, and try to recognize the seeds of racism, oppression, and fascism, to root them out before they can flower and produce seed. We thought a repressive, fascist regime could never come to America. Even if we were not of the same political party as the President or Congress, we all trusted that America had a good system of checks and balances; prejudice and bigotry, virulent hate, and ignorance would be overcome by the rule of law and the Constitution.
And then came Donald Trump. In his army of admirers he counts white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, those who fear and/or hate Muslims and foreigners with brown skin, those who impose their narrow religious beliefs on all people, those who gravitate to a powerful leader, violent thugs who punch black people at Trump rallies, those who shame women for their appearance, those who tear off a Muslim woman’s hijab and threaten her life, and sexually assault women and then laugh about it. Perhaps most surprising is that millions of right-wing Christians support Trump and his policies.
The Christian Right are unconcerned about Trump’s lies and “alternative facts” because some fundraising mega-millionaire religious leaders (James Dobson, Jerry Fallwell Jr., Franklin Graham) say Trump is born again, God is still working on him and we need to give him a chance.
The proof of change is in a changed life, changed speech, changed behavior. Trump hasn’t changed a bit in the year and a half since they decided he was born again. He said himself that he has nothing to confess! The lies, the insults, the threats and the dog-whistle incitement to assassination say he hasn’t changed.
On the one-week mark of his new presidency, Trump signed an executive order that was almost certainly written by his adviser, Steve Bannon, a white supremacist. The order bans Muslim refugees (including women, children, and the elderly) from the war-torn Middle East, and it favors Christians, which violates the Constitution’s first amendment, where the US government can’t establish or favor one religion over another. Even permanent residents with “green cards” will be exiled if the Supreme Court doesn’t stop it.
The order seeks to prioritize refugees fleeing religious persecution, a move Trump separately said was aimed at helping Christians in Syria. That led some legal experts to question whether the order was constitutional.
One group said it would announce a court challenge on Monday. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said the order targets Muslims because of their faith, contravening the U.S. Constitutional right to freedom of religion.
"President Trump has cloaked what is a discriminatory ban against nationals of Muslim countries under the banner of national security," said Greg Chen of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-refugees-idUSKBN15B2HL
Trump and Bannon are planning to deport millions of Hispanic people who were born elsewhere but brought here by their parents, and who know no other country or home but this one. Homes and lives will be ripped apart so Trump can build a fence or wall that’s easily tunneled or flown over.
On the same day as Holocaust Remembrance, January 27, 2017, the anti-abortion March for Life was held in Washington, DC. Vice President Mike Pence was there, and said triumphantly, “Life is winning in America.”
|A Syrian refugee weeps at the loss of one of his children.|
But it’s not winning in Syria for those fleeing war and death, the same grieving, horrified, helpless people we were told by Jesus that we must visit in their confinement, tend when they’re sick, feed, and clothe because they were the “least” of his brethren (siblings). He said to love the “stranger” (foreigner) among us as we love ourselves. He said that those who do care for the helpless will enter his kingdom.
Many conservatives claim to be Christians who are pro-life for fetuses (and that's fine), but when it comes to their own countrymen, much less the foreigners among us, they’re remarkably callous and cold. Because their health insurance is high-priced, they’re angry that they have to help subsidize other peoples’ health insurance. “Let ‘em die!” they shout at political rallies.
In addition, Trump and his temporary ally, Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan, are overturning the Affordable Care Act, to drop 30 million Americans from healthcare. Without diabetes or cancer meds, how many millions will wither and die? Without care for burns, or small tumors, or without flu shots, how many people, how many seniors in delicate health, will die? The mind boggles. These people who care only for themselves are not worshiping the real Jesus Christ—they’re following the money idol, and false messiahs. "Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.” Matt. 7:15
Here's a verse you may have learned as a child, and thought it was only about cursing: "Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain." That's not about cursing. It's about the way you represent God's character ("name") to the world.
You know what, conservatives? The world is watching you. They’re observing your testimony of Christianity, and they’re rejecting it. Atheists are sickened by your attitudes and your false prophets, and they throw your false Christ on the dung heap. Who else is sickened? The liberal (which means "generous and open-minded") Christians who do follow Jesus’ commands. And it’s highly probable that without a change toward Love, you won’t be found in the Book of Life.
It may require a change of local church or denomination, and deprogramming the lies you’ve been taught on TV and radio. It may mean changing party affiliation. But ask yourself if the conservative ethos is biblical, if your eternal life is worth following such unloving fake Christians off the cliff.
For there is a holocaust waiting for people who are not loving others in the same way God has loved you. There's a four-letter word for that.