On January 20th, hundreds of thousands of protesters reclaimed President’s Day as a way to resist the Trump presidency. On Twitter, the tag #NotMyPresidentsDay topped the trending tags, at over 54 thousand tweets strong. Angry shouts of “Hey, ho, Trump has got to go,” filled the air during a downtown Washington D.C. protest.
Although many voices joined in these shouts, it’s likely that there were a number of LDS voices among them. And who can blame them? For many members of the church, the Trump presidency is a hard line to walk. While the LDS community is committed to following the laws of the land and supporting leadership, we are also keenly aware of the danger that he may pose to freedom of speech and religion.
While many among us support the new president as they would support any other leader in the church, others see Trump as a danger, a modern-day Governor Boggs. As Mormons, we recognize the signs of persecution and may be afraid.
As Christians, we must look deeper.
As a Christian, it is vital to see Donald Trump as an individual. A son of God who deserves to have the opportunity to learn and grow just the same as everyone else. Yet, as a Christian, it is also important to recognize when the choices of another are limiting the God-given freedoms and rights that we believe that all people have – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Regardless of how many protest signs have been raised this President’s Day, there is no denying that Donald Trump is the President of the United States. Now we must decide how to proceed. Hating him, reviling him, and protesting him do not give us a legitimate case to impeach him. Unpopularity is not a valid reason for Congress to sign that ultimate pink slip.
We can choose to throw proverbial sticks and stones at the president and hope he retreats with his tail between his legs. Maybe that will work. But I get the feeling it isn’t what Jesus would have us do. When a child throws a stick at you, you probably don’t throw one back. Many of us try to teach correct behavior.. That’s what the Savior did, too.
As Christians, we have a responsibility to love Donald Trump, even in his petulance, rudeness, and short-sightedness. Just as we should truly love our Muslim brother, our LGBT friend, and our Satan-worshipping neighbor. Just as we should love God Himself.
This means doing the bigger thing.
Writing letters of love and compassion. Being a friend and advocate to those who might feel targeted by the bully behavior of our infantile president. Teaching those around us that it’s okay not to approve of decisions that demean, and thinking of solutions that build and protect those who can’t protect themselves.
Like James says in Chapter 3 of the King James Version of the Bible:
14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
Shouting angrily into the night isn’t what changes a person’s heart. Waving sticks and throwing rocks doesn’t have power to make the world better. What really makes the world better is wisdom that is pure, peaceable, and without hypocrisy. And the only people who can really make a difference? Those who are willing to sow their displeasure in peace, with a motivation of love.
Let me reiterate: You don’t have to love Donald Trump.
But the Lord has told us that we should. And not in that pandering way where we excuse misbehavior. It that true, honest way of a mother who reprimands a child – sternly but because she has his best interests at heart.
So I hope we can pray for our president. I hope we can ask for mercy and understanding to come into his heart. At the same time, I hope we will lift in our communities and be unafraid to stand against directives that we believe might deprive another of their rights.
And as for me? I will try with my whole soul to sow peace, because I know the heart hears the softest kindness louder than the protests of a raging crowd.