Open Letter to Pres. Trump from a Southern Minister

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Dear President Trump,

Can we talk?

As a Presbyterian Church USA [PC(USA)] minister, I’ve become increasingly concerned about you and your faith journey.

I understand that you grew up attending what you’ve called a “vibrant” PC(USA) church. And until recently, when you seem to have adopted a more conservative Evangelical outlook, you would readily claim to be a Presbyterian. While I have my opinions, I admittedly have no idea if your embracing of Evangelicals was a political move or an ideological one or even possibly both, but what I do know is that, thus far, your actions as President of the United States have strayed far from the teachings of the faith tradition you once so proudly claimed.

I guess you could consider this a pastoral note – written out of care for the spiritual path you seem to be following.

You should know, there are a lot of people, even many of my close friends, who are refusing to call you a Christian. Of course, knowing your reputation for spending time on Twitter, you are probably already aware of that. But I bring it to your attention because they really tend to make a great case for it.

Personally, I don’t want to get into the business of defining who is and who isn’t a Christian. That’s a job for someone with a much higher pay grade than me. For that matter, it’s for someone with much higher pay grade than you and I suspect yours is pretty considerable with your decision to not fully divest from your businesses and the way the government is now pumping money into some of your businesses like Trump Tower and Mar-a-Lago.

I do, however, believe that it is both healthy and part of my responsibility as a minister to point out places where someone who publicly professes to be earnestly seeking to be a Christian (or Christ follower) might be missing the boat by a bit – or even by a gapping chasm.

Realizing that you have much to do, what with the Tweeting and keeping in check all the “fake” news that’s out there, I’ll keep this brief and to the point.

When it comes to immigrants and refugees, the Bible really doesn’t give much wiggle room. In Leviticus, among many other places, it insists on us being hospitable to travelers from other lands. We are told “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself…”.

For that matter, Jesus and his family were refugees as they fled a nation where his death was somewhat imminent. Can you imagine the Jesus clan trying to escape death today by coming to America? I know, it’s heartbreaking to consider that we might not accept Jesus – what with his brown skin, Middle Eastern ties, and inability to speak English.

Sad. Just sad.

If you actually want to put Christian values into action, you are going to need to massively rethink your immigration policy. For that matter, it’s also just the humane thing to do.

As I mentioned a moment ago, as you and I strive to be Christians, what that looks like is striving to follow Jesus, or more specifically, striving to follow his example and teachings. It’s sort of like playing Follow the Leader.

When people who were sick needed care, Jesus gave it to them – regardless of pre-existing conditions or lack of worldly goods. Your new Evangelical friends, talk a lot about the need to “save” people. Well, healthcare is the perfect opportunity to truly save people. We don’t need a repeal of Obamacare/ACA, which would actually lead to an increase and death and poverty, we need to improve on it and get to the business of saving lives. After all, that’s what Jesus would do. Follow the leader.

It would be easy to go on and on with examples like these, but I have to imagine, you are running out of patience with the length of my letter, so allow me to summarize the whole of the Bible with one easy to remember saying, “Love God which looks like loving your neighbor.” Ok, so you probably caught me on that. I didn’t say that, Jesus did. He also reminded us to love our enemies as well.

So, our key instruction from the teacher you and I seek to follow is to love our neighbor. Our Christian neighbor. Our Muslim neighbor. Our Atheist neighbor. Our female neighbor. Our Refugee neighbor. Our sick neighbor. Our gay and trans neighbors. Our hungry neighbor. Our homeless neighbor.

There’s really no wiggle room there either. Love them. Period.

Turning them away, insuring they can’t afford or get healthcare, not extending the same rights to them that you give to yourself and others, turning away when they are in need, those are not loving responses.

Our job is to love them. Period.

Jesus never said it’d be easy, he just said it’d be worth it.

So, thanks for taking the time for this little “Christianity 101” pep-talk. I hope it’ll jog some of those memories from your Sunday school days at First Presbyterian Church. We Presby’s pride ourselves in our education programs; I can only imagine the wonderful lessons you once learned.

And just think, if we can manage to get back to truly following the life and lessons of Jesus, we could “make America great again” – for our Muslim neighbors, our gay and trans neighbors, for our sick neighbors, for our refugee neighbors… well, I think you get the picture.

PEACE!
Rev. Mark Sandlin

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47 comments

    • Thank you. Simple message. He should be able to understand it, if he wants to. Can you send it to all the so-called Christian Republican members of Congress too?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Seems you do not understand that what Trump said was we welcome all enter our country in a legal way. Do you NOT want our country to be safe and not have another 911?

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    • President Trump’s first obligation is the safety of the American people. If you would take a minute and read the media that is not Fake News perhaps you could figure that out for yourself. It is not rocket science to be able to see what these refugees are doing to these other countries. As a minister why don’t you take your family over to any of these countries and preach to them how they should behave in these countries that have taken them in.. Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself how you are spreading your time preaching here in the USA with your negative grandstanding here on FB. Perhaps as a preacher you could be bring people together instead of continuing the division Obama orchestrated here in the USA.

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    • Great article, except for the separation of Evangelicals and Presbyterians. I became an evangelical Christian because of Christ’s care for the poor & marginalised, because He loved the whole world, not just my bit of it and because no one else could reconcile the rottenness we see in each other and the God- mark in each precious one. Please don’t dump us all into the bigot box!

      Liked by 1 person

    • “Personally, I don’t want to get into the business of defining who is and who isn’t a Christian. That’s a job for someone with a much higher pay grade than me. For that matter, it’s for someone with much higher pay grade than you and I suspect yours is pretty considerable with your decision to not fully divest from your businesses and the way the government is now pumping money into some of your businesses like Trump Tower and Mar-a-Lago”
      I found this paragraph interesting lol … I would hope that someone with a higher pay grade isn’t the one judging whether or not I am a Christian . The Bible is clear with the definition. and only God knows someones heart … we are not to judge this . The Leviticus passage was one i grew up with There is a difference between immigration , refugees and people just illegally doing what they want When I grew up , my parents were known as being hospitable . We had people from all over ( strangers who knew friends. who knew friends lol ..one family from South America ended up staying a month ..we had never met them before ) knocking on our door , and asking to stay . My sister and I spent al lot of time sleeping on a hideaway bed in the dining room because others had our room . If someone was visiting Church for the first time , they came to our home for lunch . I like to believe , my parents were careful as to who they brought or let stay because of the safety of my sister and I . They followed the Leviticus example . .I saw a video of people protesting who were asked if they would actually allow some of these refugees in their home, and of the first 10 ( that’s all they showed ) no one would take them .
      I don’t know why people say Trump has something against gays . He is good friends with Caitlin Jenner, and she actually voted Republican . He even told her to “Use any bathroom you want ”
      I would expect a Southern pastor to leave the judgement astto whether or not Trump is a Christian to God. So far I still am hearing so much negativity . Why not wait the 4 years and just vote again

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  1. I think you need to qualify your statement about “Evangelicals”. I was born into an Evangelical Church. The Swedish Evangelical Covenant Church. (Now the Covenant Church). I went to a high school in Minneapolis and North Park College in Chicago–both sponsored by my denomination. I’m out of touch where I live now: it is a small denomination. But there is still a lot of “covvie” in me. Not all Evangelicals are Trumpists.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks Pastor. Unfortunately I suspect your letter is too long, as I don’t believe it will hold the attention of the reader long enough for him to finish it. I did, however, and I appreciate it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. GREAT letter Pastor and to the point, I doubt it will mean much to Trump or his band of followers, sad to think this country is going backward rather than forward. So many people are still trying to get equal rights. My Bible tells me God created us all equal, not the same, but equal.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I too am a born again believer in Jesus Christ, and try to daily do devotions, which include scriptures. However, some aspects of what you are saying I do not agree with. Have you personally gone to listen to born again Muslims that have come out of being a Muslim and are able to share exactly what The Quran says for Muslims to do to us, the infedels? Shahram Hadian was raised Muslim, and is now, for several years, a Christian. We are at war with Muslims because the have been instructed all of their lives, to dominate the world, thru every means, including butchering Christians, beheading, raping, and country by country, to Occupy. The U.S. Is the biggest bastion they want to destroy and dominate. They have very visibly declared war on us. 9/11 was their big wake-up call. They currently have over 200 sites thruout out America where serious training is going on, right now. Before you make such vocal, public calls to Christians that have seen and understood the gravity of what is happening right inside America, I highly recommend you do your homework by seeking out and listening to those former Muslims that at risk of their very lives, are speaking out to tell us…”they want to destroy America, kill everyone that refuses to bow to Allah, and take over. Brigette Gabriel is another former Muslim that is sounding the alarm. Please, I love Jesus, but you have to know facts before you put down Christians… please find them and listen…

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    • He did not put down Christians. You did by your own statements.

      I am so much more afraid, and statistically so much more at risk here in the US, if an attack on my physical body by radical Christian terrorists.

      Certain people have made it very clear that the magic words “radical Islamic terrorists” made all the difference in spite of the majority of Muslims denouncing the actions of those using the cover of that religion to engage in atrocities. There has been an insistence in using that term in spite of diplomatic experts pointing out using that phrase actually makes the monsters feel legitimized.

      So, while you might want to point out you are “different” from radical Christian terrorists, I’m going to go with prevailing right wing love Vic and use those words. (I personally find them offensive as a Cgristian, but what do I know.)

      Before you berate your fellow Christian of being ignorant and ill informed, please research instances of terrorism committing by those claiming to be Christian. Much more of a danger here. Even to others using the name Christian. (Sort of like how those radical Islamic terrorists actually kill and maim many, many Muslims.)

      Let me get back to just that focus on Jesus. There were absolutely people with great power out to kill him. He never let his followers hold people at bay for his own safety. He spent time with the dregs of society, but he also had time for Riman soldiers and Jewish leaders who sought him out. He knew where they danger lie and served those people anyway.

      Living as Christ did actually is a type of extremism and radicalism. But, it is extreme and radical live and service in spite of risk.

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  5. You talk about pay grades and that someone of a higher paygrade should judge. God is the only one qualified to judge. Not me and certainly not you. The Bible says “Judge not lest you be judged.” It also says for one to take out the beam in their own eye before taking out the splinter in their neighbors eye. The Bible says that a Christian is one that believes that Jesus Christ died on the cross for all of our sins and that to be “saved”, that believer must accept that payment for their sins. I believe that Trump has accepted Jesus as his Savior as Franklin Graham has attested. Here’s a question. Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins? John 3:16

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    • The only confession I have heard Trump make is that he has never needed to ask forgiveness for anything. How is that consistent with being a Christian? Yours and Rev. Graham’s “belief” that Trump is a Christian reflects more a wish than a fact.

      While one’s works won’t lead to salvation, Christ Himself warned he would say,”I never knew ye,” to those hypocrites who professed to follow Him, but whose works showed their lack of commitment to His teachings and their lack of concern for and/or help for those He commanded us to love as we love Him and ourselves. We are to love one another as Christ loved us. Can you honestly say you believe this narcissistic President, who talks lovingly only about himself, exhibits any of those characteristics? If so, what examples have you seen of his helping the poor, the hungry, the sick, and the weak – any of those whom Christ blessed in His sermon on the mount?

      As for your first paragraph, it was Christ/God that is the higher power to Whom the pastor referred. Could you not tell?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Of course you would use the bible quotes to justify your’s and Trumps agenda. Maybe search your conscience instead. As an atheist I’m glad I don’t have to cherry pick the bible to say that I wholeheartedly agree with the pastors letter.

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  6. This was an awesome and well thoughtout letter to the president, who sadly either won’t read it or potentially can’t read. Someone that truly has the best interest of the people needs ro share with him the truth. The individuals that attacked on 9/11 were from Sauldi Arabia. However he didnt ban them bc he has stuff there that he is paid for. Those 7 countries he tried to ban, have never hurt us in anyway. Why can’t we all, no matter what religion or lack there of come together in unity and stand in the gap for those thst might not be able to stand for themselves. It’s scary to think that maybe we are headed into the end times. Trump may not be the Anti Christ but based on the antics from him, his staffers, and his relationship with Putin, we could be close. Come Lord Jesus come and rapture us from this world before it goes completely crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Please please please stop publishing this tripe. Jesus said, “You know not what you do.” You have your First Admenent right to sound silly, but stop dragging Jesus into your argument when you neither understand the Spirit nor the command to love your neighbor as yourself. Have your traveled further into the world that your local Starbucks?! If not, don’t lecture!

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    • I’m a Christian, and President Obama never disrespected me. In debate classes we teach that when someone claims “all” people, it only takes one dissent to prove an argument wrong. Your argument, sir, is incorrect, and you have failed to win whatever your point was supposed to be.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am a Christian and was never disrespected by President Obama. Given our Constitution, the religious beliefs of our president are not mandated. It was a joy for me personally, though, to have a president like Obama who came from a more social justice/liberation theological background.

        I felt my faith and experiences were respected, but I also felt my fellow citizens who are atheist, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Wiccan, etc were not disrespected, either.

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  8. I too am a pastor, but an evangelical one. We also believe that Jesus admonished US to take care of those less fortunate. He did NOT admonish the government to do so. We are to love our enemies as well as those that are scripturally living a sinful life. Hate the sin, love the person. We are to tell them what the Word of God teaches. President Trump was the only candidate on the ballot that professed a pro-life stance. No Bible believing Christian who ever vote for someone who admonished abortion. Ever. The corruption that is pervasive in Washington is over. The Swamp will be drained. God is great!

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    • I am a Christian who is pro-life in the sense that I believe such a stance should extend beyond birth to the end of people’s lives, not just from conception to birth, when it is easy to give lip service to a concept that requires no real commitment beyond words and the following of a political slogan. I have seen no empathy for women in poverty who see another pregnancy as another child brought into the world to starve or be abused; nor support for another child to be educated in a political climate that starves its schools of resources needed to deal with the child’s physical, emotional, or mental needs; nor for a safe environment for that child to prosper and grow in, without pollution and with adequate opportunity for his or her parent(s) to make a living and afford insurance. Christ’s teachings certainly were not limited to a singular cause’s being what we should care about or do, and non-Christians will not be led to Christ by the hypocrisy of people who profess to be His followers.

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    • Pro- birth , not pro-life… there’s a difference! You want all born, but don’t want to provide care afterwards, even seniors with food stamps, Medicaid ect AND a President should not be elected for this ONE factor! Separate church and State!

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    • There were many Bible believing Christians who did not vote for trump. I used to vote solely on abortion, but over the years I saw no difference. I am a very left leaning Christian in almost every area, but abortion a has been a very difficult issue for me. I do not condone it although I have read stories regarding choices some family’s had to make that were more like end of life choices.

      I do know a better quality of life leads to a reduction in abortions. I do know better sexual education that includes more than abstinence only education will likely lead to fewer abortions. I know better female healthcare and access to birth control will lead to fewer abortions.

      There has been an ongoing decline in abortions for decades. That decline even continued into the Obama administration. Given some of the radical policies of this administration, I actually fear a spike in abortion. That grieves me.

      I do understand that abortion was the one issue that led many devout Christians to vote for trump. I do understand that although I find every other stance he had as being anathema to Christian beliefs.

      But, do not assume I am not.a Christian because I choose not to vote for someone I saw as tearing down those very beliefs.

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  9. The Bible tells the leaders of a country exactly how to keep their country safe. Donald Trump is doing exactly how the Bible instructs the leaders. Yes, we are to accept people and help the less fortunate, The people that seek asylum and citizenship the correct lawful way is the ones we should help.

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  10. And what would be Jesus’s response to killing the unborn? And what does the Bible say about homosexuality? Why is there only mention of immigration here?

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  11. A good example of Leftist Progressive Socialist thinking and Biblical interpretation to suit the progressive mindset while “tickling the ears” with half truths that liberals want to hear validated. Of course examples of made up fallacies also stand out as well as snide insinuations concerning Trump are evident in this letter. Also noticeable are typical leftist omissions of traditional morals and laws of America.

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  12. Thank you,
    Your letter is fair, and on point!
    I doubt he will read it,not sure he can.
    Maybe if in a short comercial, news or even a YouTube video aired on fox, but again it would be shared by those Alt-Rigthts, and their Alternate Reality Christ is not going to agree with that!
    God will Bless you for trying, please keep it up!

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  13. Thank you Betty and Rev. Sandlin. We are not just a county of “Christians” (in quotes because not all professed Christians really quality!), but our country is a multitude of religions. So separation of church and state is important.

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  14. Thank you for your Christan values and I hope Mr. Trump listens to you. We are a nation of may beliefs and that is a good thing. No matter what religion you practice is okay. Just remember that what ever GOD you believe in that good is better than evil. Don’t judge people because of their color or nationality
    All nationalities want peace, a safe place to raise their children, enough food to eat and shelter. Many of these refugees have none of those things. They are not all terrorists. We have a duty to care for these people as Christians.

    Like

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