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It’s official: Donald Trump has become the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Even though his campaign started as an unserious PR stunt and even though (or perhaps because of) his blatant racism, sexism and authoritarianism, Trump has become very popular. I have encountered several Trump supporters in my social media feeds. And they’re really hard to talk to. I and Sarah illustrate what a conversation with a Trump supporter feels like in this sketch:
It is as if arguments don’t work very well when it comes to Trump supporters, or any supporter of racism and fascism. I have spent a lot of time trying to combat xenophobia here in Europe, and it is just as hard as Americans now find converting Trump supporters to be. Whatever one says, whatever what evidence one presents, it is as if they’ve already decided that racism and bigotry is what will make a country great. And just a few months ago they didn’t think that way, and it’s so hard to see why Trump’s hateful message could be so attractive.
As a charismatic Christian, however, I know that no one is outside God’s miraculous power and that no one is unable to be transformed into a sanctified disciple of Christ. We shouldn’t give up on the Trump supporters. Continue to feed them arguments, and do so with love and compassion as well as a listening ear to what troubles them. And welcome God’s Spirit into your life so that His voice and power can guide you into leading people to repentance and holiness.
In debates with Christian nationalists and “migration critics” there’s one Bible verse that keeps popping up all the time: Acts 17:26. Many use it as a proof text for why our nations shouldn’t receive refugees and for why we should be nationalists and patriots, celebrating our own country.
As I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog post, my first book in Swedish has just been published! It’s about why Christians should welcome refugees and it has already stirred a lot of controversy among the Christian xenophobic community. Most of those who disagree with us point to Acts 17:26 as the reason for why Christians should be critical to migration. One guy even e-mailed me, providing a link which he said contains “evidence” for why I’m wrong. I clicked it and found a blog post which simply was an angry rant based on one single Bible verse: Acts 17:26.
So let’s take a look at this Bible verse and see if it really says what nationalists want it to say. I actually made a video about Acts 17:26 several months ago as I was in the midst of writing the book. I found the video on my hardrive and published it on YouTube earlier today, so you can both listen to and read my explanation to what the verse is saying. Here it is: (more…)
I’m a master of blog titles, am I not?
This week my first book in Swedish was released. It’s called Jesus was Also a Refugee and is co-authored with evangelical pastor Stefan Swärd. It develops a Christian perspective on the refugee crisis and the European xenophobic movement. Our conclusion is obviously that Christians should bless and welcome immigrants and refugees and not oppose migration from poor, dangerous countries to rich and safe countries.
One surprising finding is that many xenophobic and racist Christians have a liberal, or progressive, view on theology. This is very evident if you look at Nazi Germany in the 1930’s: liberal theologians like Paul Althaus and Emanuel Hirsch celebrated Hitler and hated Jews. They combined their Nazi rants with biblical criticism and despising any effort to follow the commands of Jesus as they are expressed in the New Testament.
Liberal Christians are also very prominent in the main xenophobic party of my nation, the Sweden Democrats. This party has neo-Nazi roots and try to appeal to Christian values in contrast to Muslim or socialist values. They have been working hard to gain influence in the Church of Sweden, by electing people who hold on to nationalism while also being very liberal theologically. (more…)
I’ve understood that people currently talk a lot about migration in the United States; Donald Trump has brought up the issue in his presidential campaign and I have seen many Americans on social media and in the commentary section of this blog. They often express severe xenophobia, particularly towards Latin American migrants from Mexico whom they emphasize are “illegal aliens.” My very conservative friend Rick Lamascus who is a very faithful reader of this blog even though he disagrees with most of what I write, has argued:
“Controlled Immigration is not a problem. What is a problem is illegal aliens pouring across the US border. It is like poison to our schools, hospitals, and jobs.”
“We have at least 30 million illegal aliens. Our schools systems are flooded and the hospital emergency rooms are flooded with illegals who pay NOTHING. Our sorry politicians are such prostitutes. They constantly pass legislation to give the illegals more and more.”
As you can see, to him “illegal” is not just something you do, it is something you are. Instead of talking about “people” or “neighbors” (which Mexicans obviously are to US Americans), Rick talks about “illegals” – as if it was a job or ethnicity.
Benjamin Corey has written a very good article on why Christians should stop talking about “illegal immigrants.” His reasons are:
There are a lot of things I’m passionate about: Jesus, poverty reduction, community, evangelism, revival and many other things. But one thing I’m not passionate about is being a racist. Racism is terrible and insane and I’m praying every day that i will treat everyone equal, with love and dignity, and that the Holy Spirit will give me a humanitarian passion for everyone that is in need.
And so when I retweet Doctors without borders who point out that refugees are people who seek a better future for themselves and their children, I am devastated when another Twitter user responds with racism. Yes, this is racism, he knows nothing about these mothers other than that they are African, and yet he argues that they “bring a lot of pain and suffering for the country that accepts them”. Cold, hateful racism. And this guy claims to be a Christian.
Some will just tell me to ignore the trolls and go on with my life, but these comments don’t come from isolated dark corners of the internet anymore, this is a mass movement all across Europe that is occupying parliaments and governments. A movement filled with hostility against people from Africa and the Middle East, a movement promoting inequality, deportation and white supremacy. (more…)
As poor people are being oppressed by rich people, the poor paradoxically often blame other poor people for their misery. The apostle James, Jesus’ own brother who is one of my favourite author, writes in his letter about how strange it is for the Christians of his time to despise the poor while the rich oppressed them:
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? (Jam 2:5-7)
I have read in the news that in South Africa, some people suffering from unemplyment and marginalization violently attack immigrants from countries like Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, accusing them for “taking our jobs”. At the same time, white South Africans earn six times as much money than blacks, which of course means that if whites earned less there would be more money to employ people with, just as this American CEO could raise the wages of all his employees by lowering his own.
The European colonisers who plundered Africa’s natural resources, installed racist segregation and enjoyed wealth and luxury in gated communities while the indigenous population suffered in poor townships, are the immigrants that black South Africans should really be caring about, since most of their white descendants still are much richer than the rest of the population. SA is one of the most unequal countries in the world. Yet, the poor starts to blame other poor people from other countries. Why is that?
Jesus came in contact with several people who weren’t orthodox Jews, but rather were heretics or idolaters. We have the Samaritans, who had mixed Judaism with pagan influences, and who were forbidden to worship the Lord in Jerusalem. The Romans were colonialist immigrants from other parts of the empire, and even if some had become proselytes (like Cornelius, Acts 10), most of them worshiped the Roman idols of Jupiter, Mars and others. There were also adherents of other religions in the areas of Decapolis, where Jesus did some miracles (Mark 5).
How did Jesus relate to these idolatrous Gentiles? Well, He simply took control over a state, became President and deported them. Wait, He didn’t? Then at least He commanded His disciples to take control over a country and deport all the idolaters? Huh, He didn’t do that either?!
Not that those ideas didn’t float around in Jesus’ time. The Zealot movement and other radical Jewish groups wanted to fight against the Romans and drive those stupid colonialists back to Europe (which they also tried in 70 and 135 AD, and failed miserably). Many believed that this was what the Messiah was supposed to do. Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans (Jn 4:9), and vice versa, and when some Samaritans heard that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, they forbade Him to enter their village. Enraged, John and James suggested that Jesus should order a heavenly genocide from above, burning those heretics alive (Lk 9:51-54).
But Jesus rebuked them. He didn’t come to barbeque idolaters but to save them. He loved Samaritans, shared the Gospel with them and used a Samaritan as the good example in His famous parable about loving everyone indiscriminately (Jn 4, Lk 10). He told His Jewish disciples to love the Romans, pray for them, and walk the extra mile with them (Lk 6). Do to them as you would have them do to you (Mt 7:12). He didn’t fight to kick the Romans out of Israel. Instead, He was crucified by them, dying for their sins. On the cross, He shouted: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!” (Lk 23:34). (more…)
Christians have so many times ignored the teachings of Jesus and become racists instead. It happened during the crusades. It happened in Nazi Germany. It happened in apartheid South Africa. Christians argued for racism, xenophobia and inequality, claiming that white Europeans were elected by God to rule over and even kill other ethnicities. There arguments however, have been extremely weak, since the Bible does not support white pride. Come on, Europeans are hardly even present in the Bible, and the Saviour of the world is a middle eastern Jew!
Yesterday, the xenophobic Swedish party known as the Sweden Democrats forced re-elections after refusing to let the government’s budget go through, and they also threatened that they will do so with every budget that doesn’t accept their demands of cutting non-white immigration. Since neither the left coalition nor the right have majority, this means trouble. Needless to say, this has produced a lot of debate in our little country, and while most Christians emphasize that we need to push back against the rise of racism and neo-fascism, more and more Christians are either joining the Sweden Democrats, or lobbying for the conservative coalition, where the Christian Democrats is a member, should listen to and cooperate with the racists.
As we’re experiencing a racist revival among Christians in all of Europe, the old bad arguments that were used by Nazi Lutherans and Apartheid Presbyterians pop up again. I will deal with these in depth when I have time, but for now let me just give some quick comments to the most common ones:
“Acts 17:26 says ‘From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.'”
Yesterday’s election to the European Parliament was a shock to many people: the clear winners are the far-right, xenophobic and racist parties. Parties that want to decrease or stop non-Western immigration, and whos representatives say the most insane things about Muslims, Jews, homosexuals and other minorities:
Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of french party Front National that won a stunning 24 % of the french vote, has famously questioned the facts concerning the holocaust and has said that the gas chambers were a minor detail of world war two. And just a few weeks ago he said that the Ebola epidemic might solve the “migration problem” by killing non-Europeans. Jean-Marie led Front National for almost 40 years until he handed over the leadership to his daughter three years ago. She has distanced herself from her father’s antisemitism, instead the party is now extremely islamophobic and wants to stop non-Western immigration to France.
In the United Kingdoms, UKIP won a victory similar to Front National, and while they are not very antisemitic they are very hostile to immigrants. Their leader Nigel Farage has made racist statements concerning Romanians, he only wants to welcome Christians from Syria and not Muslims, and the party is overflowing with hostile stereotyping of non-British nationalities.
The depressing list could go on and on. The Danish People’s Party, that also had a success in the European election yesterday, wants to totally stop Muslim immigration, which obviously is clear religious discrimination. The Austrian FPÖ, which for a long time was lead by neo-Nazi Jörg Haider and which wants to stop immigration to “protect the cultural identity of Austria”, got 20% of the Austrian votes. And then we got the really bad guys: Jobbik from Hungary whose supporters say that the Roma people will die, that wants to register all Jews because they view them as a “national security risk” and that send neo-Nazis to the European Parliament. And of course Golden Dawn, who got 10 % of the Greek votes – their representatives deny the holocaust and quote the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the Greek parliament. And oh, their flag is very similar to the Germanic Nazi swastika.
As the election to the European Parliament gets closer, I want to highlight some of the biggest European sins that unfortunately are not very present in the political debates.
Let us, as usual, look at the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia to get a definition of today’s deadly sin: “Pride is the excessive love of one’s own excellence… By it the creature refuses to stay within his essential orbit; he turns his back upon God, not through weakness or ignorance, but solely because in his self-exaltation he is minded not to submit. His attitude has something Satanic in it.”
I would say that Europe is overflowing with pride. It is because of their pride that European politicians promote economic inequality with Europe at the top, and because of pride they oppress the poor through neo-colonialism, destroy the planet and refuse to give enough aid so that poor people die abroad. And if that wasn’t enough, pride creates xenophobia, racism and evil migration policies.
It’s not any big news that xenophobia and racism is spreading across Europe. Xenophobic parties want to stop immigration of people from the so called third world, they are hostile towards Muslims and want to limit freedom of religion, and they emphasize their own culture and nation (which always is very pathetic in Europe since basically all countries here have changed culturally, geographically and politically over and over again since the fall of the Roman empire).
The other day, my American friend Robert Martin tweeted “Hey, @micaelgrenholm… Sweden is 5th happiest country in the world… congrats!” I jokingly responded “5th?? Now I’m definitely not happy!!” and he wrote “Well, at least 4 of the top 10 are Scandinavian… check it out. US is # 17″ Yup, Denmark was in fact number 1, and Norway number 2. All I could think about at that moment was actually racism and xenophobia.
How come? Well, a couple of years ago a Swedish journalist published a book called “The Happiest People in the World“ about racism in Denmark. While citizens enjoy a high standard of living with extensive welfare and social security, it’s very, very hard for non-whites to become such citizens. In fact, Denmark is probably the most xenophobic country in northern Europe. Even though the racist Danish People’s Party has not been part of a government, other parties have used similar rhetoric and even policies in order to prevent more people from joining them. The result is of course that DPP’s ideas of a multiethnic Denmark being a “national disaster” has formed national policies.
How about Norway, then? The day before Martin tweeted his message to me Norway had their parlamentarian election, and as the Conservative Party won they proudly announced that they would govern together with the xenophobic Progress Party. This is the first time a racist party has entered a Scandinavian government.
How do I know that they are racist? Well, for instance, they want to ban Romani people from the country. Furthermore they have all the traditional charesteristics of xenophobia: they are hostile to islam, they want to decrease immigration, they are patriotic and wants to defend “Norwegian values” against multiculturalism, etcetera.
Today is 50 years since Martin Luther King‘s extremely famous “I have a dream” speech at Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. He has inspired countless people through the decades to passionately work for justice and freedom using non-violence, and also to seek the God he so zealously followed. The problems he adressed – racism, injustice and violence – still exist in various forms, and so we should take his example and keep up the good fight against it. Here are three areas I think needs special concern:
Racism and Xenophobia in Europe
The ugliness of racism sadly exists in most places arounf the world, and even though the situation for African Americans have become better it is far from optimal. Yet, as a European, I think what we are seeing here sometimes are even far worse. In Greece a neo-Nazi party got 7 % of the seats in the parliament. In Hungary, a neo-Nazi party got 12 % of the seats in the parliament. Hate crimes against Jews, Muslims, Blacks, homosexuals and other minorities are on the rise. Just a couple of weeks ago, a Muslim woman here in Sweden got beaten by a racist for wearing a hijab. The event caused a massive protest where thousands of women weared hijab in solidarity. Then, a new group of racists found the woman and beat her up again. What can we do? Use the example of Luther King: be a light in the darkness, use nonviolence in the midst of violence, be loving in the midst of hate, welcome the stranger in the midst of xenophobia. (more…)
The far right is on the rise in Europe. Xenophobic, islamophibic and racist parties and movements have gain ground dramatically the past decade, probably fueled by the economic crisis.
In Switzerland, the Schweizerische Volkspartei, the country’s biggest party, depict immigrants as black sheep that needs to be kicked out, and they have succeeded with banning minarets. In Hungary, the third-biggest party Jobbik has formed a paramilitary Hungarian Guard that marches in romani areas, and a Jobbik member of parliament recently said that it was time to “assess how many MPs and government members are of Jewish origin and who presents a national security risk to Hungary”. But the most worrying far-right movement in Europe is, I would say, the Greek party Golden Dawn.
Golden Dawn is the first Nazi party to occupy seats in a European parliament since the second world war. The party themselves denies being neo-Nazi, however, the evidence that Nazi ideology is an inspiration to them is enormous. Their party symbol, an ancient Greek meander, is often depicted black on a burgundy coloured background, which makes it strikingly similar to the Nazi swastika. On numerous occasions members of the party have given the Roman sallute, widely used by the Nazis, and one Golden Dawn MP has “Sieg Heil” tattooed on his arm.