A lengthy Facebook post from a Florida pastor, regarding President Trump’s ego-fest rally in Melbourne, Florida last weekend is truly worth taking a look at.
Pastor Joel Tooley is the lead pastor at the Melbourne First Church of the Nazarene. He says he was not a supporter of Trump’s (but also not a supporter of Hillary Clinton’s). When Trump came to Melbourne, however, he saw this as a great opportunity to take his 11-year old daughter for a bit of a live Civics lesson.
Pastor Tooley wrote his lengthy piece after leaving the event, and began by saying it was not his intent to anger anyone or to cause anyone to stumble. He simply felt the events of the night to be so dramatic, that he wanted to share.
A few days ago, people across the United States heard the news that our newly elected President would be visiting Melbourne, Florida – our hometown. It is no surprise to many that I do not support many of the objectives and “campaignisms” of Donald Trump. I know many people who voted for him – friends, family, church people who all voted for their own reasons. The point of this experience is not to relay all of the reasons why I think he should not be the president. Those points are moot – he IS our President.
The tickets were being given away by the Trump-Pence campaign; I found it odd that the tickets indicated that this was not a government/White House event & that this was a campaign event. I have, of course, posted a joking post about that earlier. What I discovered was that by hosting this as a campaign event, Mr. Trump could determine who was and was not allowed in the venue. If he came on an official visit, they could not prohibit anyone from entering and he couldn’t sell his campaign merchandise.
So, in essence, he was only allowing his supporters in the room. Well, with a few exceptions…
I think quite a few folks already gathered that a month into the job, Trump is already campaigning for 2020.
Tooley went on to explain that while waiting on the long line of people, he realized he was surrounded by fanatics, but he had no desire to rain on their parade, so he just observed.
We entered the venue at 3 PM, two hours before the event started. As we entered, everyone was being handed pom-poms and Trump campaign signs. The hosts made sure everyone had a sign in their hand. Someone shoved one into my hand and gave pom-poms to my daughter.
I felt like a sheep in wolves clothing.
Once we get past the obvious, that the event was being held to pump up Trump’s need for adoration, rather than to serve any true purpose of national significance, Tooley begins to get into what was being spoke into his pastor’s Spirit, and it’s concerning.
We were about three rows of people from the very front and had a very good position to view the President and the platform. As people were coming in, there was a lot of excitement and a strong sense of patriotism. Approximately every 15 minutes, the music would be a little more enthusiastic and party-like. I posted my play-by-play feedback of “God bless the USA!” in an earlier post…it was almost church-like. People sang along, raising their hands and were emotionally moved by this anthem. It was intriguing to watch.
People were being ushered into a deeply religious experience…and it made me completely uncomfortable.
I love my country; I honor those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom and I respect our history and what we stand for, but what I experienced in that moment sent shivers down my spine. I felt like people were here to worship an ideology along with the man who was leading it. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the song per se – it was this inexplicable movement that was happening in the room. It was a religious zeal.
Religious zeal. For a man.
And no, I don’t believe it is all about the “make American great again” shtick. I’ve seen it myself, and I’ve written about it here, several times. There’s a very special reason I started using the term, “Branch Trumpidians.” This pastor saw it, and more.
A couple of local politicians got up to bring greetings followed by state representative, followed by one of our Congress representatives. A soloist sang, “God bless America” and there was a strong sense of patriotism in the room. A pastor got up to pray and repeatedly prayed throughout his prayer, “Thank you for making this the greatest nation on earth…in Jesus’ name.”
Uh-uh. No. No way, josé.
Pastor, this is not the greatest nation on earth. The greatest nation on earth does not exist. Are we a great nation? Definitely. But there are many other great nations as well. Pastor, you have your eyes on a different kind of “greatness” and certainly a different kind of kingdom. Shame on you for praying those words in Jesus’ name!
This. Exactly this.
It may be shocking for some to know God sees the world globally, since He created it all and called it all good.
Pastor Tooley went on to explain the change in the music to something that sounded like it was from “Star Wars,” as the airplane hangar opened and Air Force One pulled up.
He admitted to being sufficiently in awe of the experience and the sights, but the experience took another turn.
The First Lady approached the platform and in her rich accent, began to recite the Lord’s prayer.
I can’t explain it, but I felt sick. This wasn’t a prayer beseeching the presence of Almighty God, it felt theatrical and manipulative.
People across the room were reciting it as if it were a pep squad cheer. At the close of the prayer, the room erupted in cheering. It was so uncomfortable. I observed that Mr. Trump did not recite the prayer until the very last line, “be the glory forever and ever, amen!” As he raised his hands in the air, evoking a cheer from the crowd, “USA! USA! USA!”
And I’ve heard people gushing over the fact that Melania Trump read the Lord’s Prayer at the rally. While that would normally be a welcome addition to any public event, people really need to consider that prayer and its significance, line by line. It wasn’t meant to gin up a crowd in order that they may exalt a nation or a man, but God, alone.
The very first words out of the President’s mouth were the words of a bully. That is not simply one person’s perspective, it is factual. He immediately began badgering and criticizing the media; like a bully inciting a crowd.
Now, do I think the media needs to be held to a high standard and be able to be held accountable? Absolutely! The media as a whole has become sadly non-journalistic and more entertainment, in my opinion.
Call it what you will, but I was completely dumbfounded as the most powerful leader in the world began his speech by badgering the media. The crowd began screaming angrily at the entire press corps that was present.
He could have said something inspiring and worthy of a Tweet or Facebook post, instead he emerged as an overly powerful bully. Literally, everything that he began speaking about evoked this angry response from the crowd. Immediately following the words of prayer that Jesus taught his followers…
Because Trump has no relationship with Christ. Let’s just kill that false notion that a few good Cabinet picks and a few good decisions suddenly make him a sanctified, washed-in-the-blood believer.
He’s had a year of desperate Christian supporters saying he was a “baby Christian” and prone to missteps. At some point, he should have developed enough maturity to know bullying is not godly.
Tooley then tells of a truly terrifying experience, especially for his young daughter, caught in the middle.
It was then that I heard two ladies off to my left chanting, not yelling or screaming but chanting, “T-R….U-M-P; that’s how you spell – bigotry!” They repeated the rhyme over and over.
Two ladies in front of them began seething and screaming in their face while shaking their Trump signs at them. Another couple standing behind them started screaming at them as well. One of the chanting ladies had her eight-year-old daughter on her back; the other had a severely disabled child in a wheelchair in front of her. As they continued chanting, the people around them became violently enraged. One angry man grabbed the lady’s arm – that’s when I went into action. I barged through the crowd and yelled at them to back off. My heart wasn’t racing; I just instinctively became a protector.
I didn’t actually want a Trump sign, but one of the volunteers had shoved it into my hands as I walked through the door earlier; “Make America Great Again!” That sign probably saved someone from getting hurt. I held the sign close to my chest as I positioned myself between the chanting protesters and the angry mob. My 11-year-old daughter was clinging to my arm, sobbing in fear.
The two angry, screaming ladies looked at me, both of them raised their middle finger at me in my face and repeatedly yelled, “F*#% YOU!” Repeatedly.
Were these two ladies part of the crowd reciting the Lord’s Prayer, earlier? I’d bet anything that they were.
I wish I could have captured the expressions of that man on camera. I will never forget him.
I calmly responded, “No thank you, I’m happily married.” Their faces and their voices were filled with demonic anger.
I have been in places and experiences before where demonic activity was palpable. The power of the Holy Spirit of God was protecting me in those moments and was once again protecting me and my daughter in this moment.
I raised my voice and calmly said, “These ladies have the right to do what they are doing and they are harming no one; this is America and they a right to express themselves in this way. They are harming no one.” A couple of other people around me stepped in and supported me in protecting them as a barrier, as well.
My daughter was shaking in fear as she clung to me. The one man behind the protesters shoved himself forward, grabbed the lady by the arm and screamed with multiple expletives, “I’m going to take you out! This is my president and nobody has the right to disrespect him and nobody has the right to keep me from hearing him!”
I get being upset with protesters. I don’t like the idea that representatives are being shouted down at town hall meetings around the nation, but then, nobody is threatening them, either.
Tooley went on to describe trying to comfort the crying daughter of one of the protesters, only to be called “Un-American” by someone standing nearby.
I have no clue what Trump was saying at that point – draining the swamp, vetting refugees, and other things. Oh yeah, I heard people chanting, “Build that wall, build that wall!”
I realized then that we were not listening to someone presidential, we were listening to someone terribly powerful.
And that’s the lesson this nation has to learn, and it’s one I’ve talked about from before the election. We have to consider who we are trusting with the position of leadership.
I’m trying to separate how I actually feel about this man and his campaignisms. I know why people voted for him; I know why people voted against his opponent. But, at the end of the day, what I felt from his leadership in this experience was actually horrifying. There was palpable fear in the room. There was thick anger and vengeance. He was counting on it. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that it would not have taken very much for him to have called this group of people into some kind of riotous reaction.
This experience put fear in Pastor Tooley and in his daughter.
He did not want to offend anyone, and realized that there may be some who changed their opinion of him, after hearing his account of the rally. They want him to support Trump the way they do.
I’m sorry. I cannot. You see, the angry, F-word-spewing man is what has been depended on throughout this campaign and is the one who is still being counted on to sustain the message. I tried.
As we left the room, these words were echoing in my mind, “Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…”
At the end of the day, I’m a citizen of a nation – I have a leader who God is very aware and who has tremendous responsibilities. I MUST and will pray for him. I’m a citizen of this world and I must continue to see beyond my own limited world view to seek ways to obediently serve Christ. But greater still, I am a citizen of a different kind of Kingdom – the Kingdom that strives for peace, mercy, kindness and a love-relationship with the King of kings.
As we all should strive, holiness before Trumpism.