Hey Christians of America, guess what? The nation’s problems are your fault. That is if you’re to believe the comments made by Doctor Strange Director Scott Derrickson on Twitter.
According to Derrickson Christians have confused Trumpism for the Gospel and Jesus’ heart “for the poor, the judged, the sick and the socially oppressed…” not to mention a healthy dose of Christian nationalism, which he states is “…straight-up heresy.”
Understandably his claims have polarized opinion and caused not a little debate. Of course, more often than not, the intent behind tweets of this nature are to stimulate conversation and debate and therefore we’ve decided to add our ten-cents worth.
American Christians have long loved their pop culture heroes. I have frustrated attempts to make me one because of this singular heart-felt conviction…
…In America, we Christians are not the solution. We are the core problem.
— Scott Derrickson (@scottderrickson) January 7, 2019
At the crux of Derrickson’s comments are three main points, which are that Christians fear-monger, perpetuate racism and are ignoring the gospel.
The timing of this tweet cannot be ignored in light of a government shutdown over a certain wall that the President wants to build. It’s probably fair to assume that Derrickson’s comments must, in part, be in response to that divisive issue. The logic being that if you’re in favor of a wall being built you’re not espousing Christian values because you’re racist and fearful.
If that is the case–and irrespective of what your position on this issue is–it’d be prudent to point out that President Trump’s predecessor used quite similar rhetoric about illegal immigration, only to do an about-face when he realized that he was afraid he’d lose the Hispanic vote. He just did it more articulately:
It would be foolish to dismiss the use of fear as a fundamental driver in pushing a political agenda. However, fear is indiscriminate of race, religion or political ideology. If fear is a problem, it’s not just a Christian problem it’s a national problem used by many to control and manipulate the war of ideas and votes on both sides of an argument.
Perhaps Derrickson’s comments were not directly in response to the debate over a wall being built and about a far more sweeping and insidious form of fear-mongering and racism that he sees rotting the core of America.
If that is the case, then what he seems to be indicating is that a racist white Christian electorate voted Trump into office. However, this accusation does not seem to be grounded in much fact when taking into consideration the polling numbers that got Trump elected. For example, this Quillette article breaks down Trump’s polling numbers and gives some fascinating insights into what really happened on that fateful night. For example, Trump actually won a smaller share of the white vote than Mitt Romney and got more black votes than any Republican since 2004.
Of course, racism exists in America and no doubt sadly within some elements of the Christian faith, though it does seem to stretch the realm of reason to generalize all Christians as perpetuating it.
The accusation Derrickson makes about the heresy of Christian nationalism in this country is an interesting one. Derrickson is right if what he means is that Jesus didn’t come as a violent nation-conquering King and political ruler, like the Romans and their Caesars. In fact, He and the gospel He preached broke all cultural, ethnic and national boundaries.
However, if Derrickson’s comments are made in light of the wall/no wall debate then perhaps he’s confusing Christian nationalism with those American Christians who are proud to be American and believe that the building of a wall is purely a country expressing its sovereignty and wanting to protect its citizens.
As an aside, another point Derrickson makes at the beginning of his tweet is Christians’ need to have a “Popular Culture Hero…” and his resistance to that mantle as a notable Christian. Kudos to him as his observation and response seem very timely and apropos to these politically turbulent times.
The cult of celebrity and the mistaken belief that they are better informed than the person standing in front of you in a church, coffee shop or convenience store is just as pernicious as the use of fear to get a person to agree with you.
P.S. Scott we’re looking forward to Doctor Strange 2.