Dear President Trump:
I am sure you are getting letters from groups that feel like they are being mistreated. Muslims, Hispanics, African Americans, women, Jews, the poor, and the LGBTQ community have legitimate concerns, but have you also thought about how you are making life more difficult for preachers? Ministers are not usually considered an oppressed group, but preaching was easier before you became president.
Most preachers are not looking for trouble. We do not want to offend church members. We have no interest in partisan politics. We try to be respectful of those who do not vote as we do. Preachers say things like “We are not all going to agree,” “Good people have different opinions,” and “My mother never votes like I do and she’s a fine person.”
But you are making it hard. On the Sunday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I was preaching on racism. I finished preparing the sermon on Friday afternoon. On Saturday you sent a tweet insulting John Lewis, “All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!” How could I preach on bigotry on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend and not mention the President picking a fight with a Civil Rights hero? If you feel like you have to do things like this, it would be helpful if you would do them early in the week so preachers do not have to rewrite their sermons on Saturday night.
How can ministers preach on telling the truth without using the phrase “alternative facts”? How can we preach on equality without noting that you have said horrible things about women? How can we preach on caring for the hurting without pointing out that you are cancelling health insurance for twenty million people? How can we preach on the biblical command to welcome strangers without commenting on the wall and the ban on immigration?
Preachers do not have a choice. We have to preach that God loves all people and does not believe in America first. If we preach the Gospel, some are going to think we are taking shots at you.
You are forcing preachers to mention you or look hopelessly out of touch. If we do not respond to the things you say, then some are going to assume we are asleep in the pulpit. Do we risk offending church members or feel like cowards?
You could make our lives easier. You could replace the Affordable Care Act with the More Affordable Care Act. You could work to alleviate hunger. You could strengthen our commitment to education. You could diminish the spread of terrorism by lessening the causes of terrorism. You could make the lives of so many people better. Some of them are preachers.
Rev. Brett Younger
Plymouth Church, Senior Minister