Trump is Our Nero

Donald Trump is the Emperor Nero for 2017.  Some of you who skipped the first week of church history are saying, “Nero-what?”

So to begin with, who was Nero?

Nero was the the Emperor of the Roman Empire from 54 AD until 68 AD. He was the last of the “Julian Emperors”. For our purposes we need to focus on what is known as the Great Fire of Rome. The long and short of it is as follows: the majority of Rome burned to the ground. The vast majority of building during this time period was wooden. 

Why do we care about this? Well, Nero mismanaged the situation. Like any good leader, Nero redirects the blame to a vulnerable group to avoid the pressure and accountability that was due to him. The minority group to absorb the blame due Nero was the Christians.

The result of Nero’s blame for the fear and destruction resulting from his fire mis-management was Christians being attacked with torches and by animals.

Fast forward almost 2000 years.

Christians are not being torched or attacked by lions in the streets, but Trump is still utilizing the Christians as deflector for his mismanagement of the Muslim ban rollout.

Trump is not reinstating Christendom in The United States, but instead is acting against Christians, (intentionally or unintentionally) without most Christians realizing it. Even while the ban is debated and blocked by the courts, Trump continues to use tactics similar to persecutors we’ve learned about in church history to isolate and deflect blame from himself towards those who seek to care for the immigrant and refugee.

How is Trump persecuting the church? He is persecuting the church in three ways: division and antagonizing, patronizing, and puppetry.

Division & Antagonization

You have to give him credit, the Donald is great at dividing and antagonizing us.

Fear is the best way to divide and isolate. While many Christians oppose this ban, Trump’s use of fear mongering towards Muslim immigrants and refugees has turned many Christians away from our Biblical mandate to care for these groups towards isolationism and nationalism. Many people who are regularly supporting the care of refugees around the world are having a change of heart as Trump uses fear of the other to wedge a divide within the church.

Now the wedge in the church may be an unforeseen bi-product, but nonetheless it exists.

Patronization

Patronization is a big part of any political agenda. I get it. But playing to a certain political base, and in our case Christians who cannot see how we could ever live with any other religion on the planet, is not creating policies or agendas that seek security. These actions are playing to the lowest common denominator in a way that keeps us divided amongst ourselves for longer periods of time. All the while, we forget that the church and Christians are called to live out a life that looks different from what the world is telling us to live.

Puppetry


Finally, like Nero, Trump is turning our communities against one another. Rally and counter rallies are being organized in cities across the country. Churches are being divided into Red and Blue churches, focused on refuting or defending a ban based solely on a person’s religion.

With us now fighting among one another, either in person or via social media, we run the risk of becoming tired, and then unwilling or able to have meaningful dialogue around this divisive and complex issue.

What do you think? Have you noticed any of these three 21st century-first world persecutions happening in your community?



So to begin with, who was Nero?