One of the nice things we say about friends to others to indicate the level of trust we have in them is, “I would trust him with my life.”
By this we usually mean we have so much confidence in this person’s trustworthiness, honesty and decision making that if we were incapacitated, we would want this person to make life-or-death decisions for us. Sometimes we codify this trust in a legal document called a medical power of attorney.
Do you have that level of trust in the current president of the United States? Would you trust him with your life?
In a way, all of us ultimately must trust presidents and politicians with our lives — or fear for our lives because of them. The power to control access to health care, to set policies on how and where care is received, to approve or deny new drugs — all these are wielded by the government. But we, as citizens in a democracy, get to choose who those presidents and politicians are, and we have the right to lobby them to make better decisions.
Others effectively give the president their medical power of attorney for other reasons.
Citizens who serve in our armed forces must trust the president with their lives every day because he is the “commander in chief.” The president can order them into harm’s way or away from harm, can make them peacemakers or warriors.
More than ever, immigrants seeking asylum in the United States must trust the president and his policies with their lives. They cross a border in desperation, willing to subject themselves to whatever may come because they’re sure it can’t be worse than what they have fled. Unfortunately, we now know in some cases that results in death due to lack of medical treatment or possible sterilization due to forced hysterectomies as reported in a Georgia detention center.
But most of us can look the other way because we’re not those immigrants and we don’t know those immigrants. Most of us can look the other way because we’re not what Trump considers the “losers” who choose to serve our country in the military and our family members aren’t the ones Trump sees as “suckers” for giving their lives for our country. The president doesn’t get our medical power of attorney for these reasons.
However, now we’re facing down a global pandemic, and the stakes are high for everyone. The statements made by the president, the actions taken by the president and the administration, the caution taken by the president — all these become matters of life and death during a global pandemic.
Faced with such a serious moment, the president of the United States has denied the reality of the pandemic, has downplayed the reality of the pandemic, has sought to distract attention away from the pandemic, has criticized scientists and doctors who express professional opinions about the pandemic, has sought to shut down the flow of accurate information about the pandemic, has intentionally misled the public about the pandemic — and now is making false promises about the coming availability of a vaccine against the very virus he says we shouldn’t worry about.
Donald Trump has control over matters of life and death — so long as the public and those around him in government leadership allow it.
“Anyone who is truly ‘pro-life’ must care for the living as well as the unborn. Anything less is not ‘pro-life.’”
Ironically, most of those who are cheering on this life-or-death misinformation campaign call themselves “pro-life” — which in reality for Trumpism only means “anti-abortion.”
Anyone who is truly “pro-life” must care for the living as well as the unborn. Anything less is not “pro-life.”
When more than 200,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 at rates disproportionate to the rest of the developed world, we are not exhibiting a pro-life ethic. When the president of the United States has nary a single word of lament for these lives lost, we are not exhibiting a pro-life ethic. When medical professionals face political pressure to rush a life-saving vaccine or to tell a false story that is more favorable to the president’s re-election campaign, we are not exhibiting a pro-life ethic.
And here is where the president’s habitual, world-class lying matters to every living person. If we excuse his lies and manipulation, we put our lives at risk and the lives of every other American — born or unborn.
For four years, we’ve heard evangelical Christians — who once upon a time cared deeply about “absolute truth”— excuse the president’s 20,000 lies or misstatements of fact as the price of getting other things they want, namely conservative Supreme Court justices and federal judges who will have a “pro-life” agenda.
“What is crystal clear now is that we can have an ‘anti-abortion’ agenda that is not ‘pro-life’ at all.”
What is crystal clear now is that we can have an “anti-abortion” agenda that is not “pro-life” at all. And by excusing the president’s notorious habit of lying about everything, we work against life itself.
I’ve heard so many Christians justify the lies by saying, “Everyone lies now and then, right?” Or, “Do you always tell the truth about everything? See, it’s not so bad that the president lies because we all lie.”
To say that “we all lie” or that “all politicians lie” as justification for believing anything the president says is like saying, “I can play a little baseball; I’m just like A-Rod.” No, the difference in order of magnitude is astounding. And do you want the person holding your medical power of attorney to be a notorious liar?
Why should any of this matter to Christians, and why I am writing about this one more time? Because Christianity at its root is, indeed, a “pro-life” religion. Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life and life abundant.” The whole turning point of our faith rests in a miraculous act of life overcoming death in the Resurrection. We are a pro-life people. And Christianity at its root is a pro-truth religion. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Being pro-life means we are a people who must traffic in truth.
“Being pro-life means we are a people who must traffic in truth.”
Have you noticed this week how much of the “anti-abortion” crowd has been silent about the reported forced hysterectomies in the Georgia immigrant detention center? Crickets. Folks who will picket every abortion clinic in the state can’t seem to muster any indignation for unseen women being denied the future ability to bear children.
Misinformation about COVID-19 and the availability of a vaccine does not just affect unseen people; it affects us all. So whether you are willing to love your neighbor as Jesus commanded or not, the love of your own life and the lives of those closest to you should compel you to rethink what it means to be “pro-life” in a time of coronavirus.
Is this president and his administration “pro-life” enough for you to trust them with your life?
Not speaking up against the lies and demanding truth says you will. Just sign here, please, for your medical power of attorney.
Mark Wingfield serves as executive director and publisher of Baptist News Global.
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