Wineke: Don’t pray for Trump?

Of all the resentments President Donald Trump seems to have against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, none seems to bug him more than Pelosi’s claim that she “prays for him every day.”

In a letter the president sent the speaker the day before he was impeached, he listed a long line of grievances, culminating with, “Even worse than offending the Founding Fathers, you are offending people of faith by continually saying ‘I pray for the president’ when you know that statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense.”

That assertion by Trump further convinces me that what we are seeing in this country is a Christian theological debate argued in political terms.

Trump has pretty much convinced Republicans he is the long-awaited messiah and will tolerate no other gods before him.

Democrats, in the meantime, have pretty much become convinced that the president is the anti-Christ who perverts anything he touches into slime.

One great example of both sides of this debate took place in Michigan Wednesday night, where Trump staged a rally even as his impeachment was voted in the House of Representatives. The president asserted that the late Rep. John Dingell, who died last February, might be “looking up” from hell.

Dingell’s widow, Rep. Debbie Dingell, didn’t take the “joke” kindly.

But it’s the prayer thing that really seems to epitomize what’s going on.

Pelosi is a practicing Catholic and that means something when it comes to prayer. Catholics pray for those in authority. Actually, most Christians pray for those in authority. I am pastor of a parish church. We pray every Sunday for the president, the governor and all those in authority, just as we pray for the men and women of our armed forces.

That doesn’t mean we approve of them. I prayed more cheerfully for President Barack Obama than I do Trump and I pray more cheerfully for Gov. Tony Evers than I did Gov. Scott Walker.

But the purpose of prayers like this is to acknowledge that I (or Pelosi) do not speak for God nor do we control God. We are commanded in the New Testament to pray for our enemies and for those who despitefully use us.

You can be pretty sure, on the other hand, that the president doesn’t pray for Pelosi.

That’s because the other side of this theological debate holds that God does take sides in political matters and that God has raised one person up as a messiah. One Republican in Wednesday’s debate argued that Jesus got a more fair trial from Pontius Pilate than Trump received in the House of Representatives.

The debate, however, is not just partisan. Those who see Trump not as messiah but as a golden calf join in one side of the theological debate, it’s just that they take a different position on the messiah.

I have not been authorized to speak for God in this regard. My personal feeling, however, is that if God were to speak, God would tell us to look to the poor, the hungry and the refugees around the world and shape up.

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