As regular readers of my daily rants know, I’m not a fan of organized religion–quite the contrary. And I’m definitely not a fan of the faux “Christianity”– more properly identified as Christian Nationalism–that permeates the MAGA movement.

But I am a fan of some actual Christians–especially the members of the clergy desperately working to remind their colleagues and congregants of the basic messages of the Christian faith. I have several personal friends who fall into that category, and I follow a couple of others on social media. One of the latter is John Pavlovitz, and I was so impressed with a recent “sermon” he delivered via the Internet that I’m going to quote rather copiously from it.

The title of the piece was “No, I Won’t Agree To Disagree About You Supporting Trump. You’re Just Wrong.” The ensuing message did two important things: it underlined the ways in which MAGA Republicanism is inconsistent with traditional Christian teaching; and it explained what all those nice people who want to bridge American political disagreements fail to understand–these arguments aren’t political. They are deeply moral–and accordingly, unbridgeable.

As Pavlovitz writes, we can’t simply “agree to disagree” because that would be tantamount to a declaration that “we both have equally valid opinions, that we’re each mutually declaring those opinions not so divergent that they cannot be abided; that our relationship is of greater value than the differences”–and as he says, that really isn’t an accurate description.

We are not simply declaring mismatched preferences regarding something inconsequential. We’re not talking about who has the best offensive line in the NFL, or whether Van Halen was better with Dave or Sammy, or about what craft beer pairs best with a cheesesteak, or about the sonic differences of CDs and vinyl. On such matters (though I will provide spirited debate), I can tolerate dissension.

We’re not even talking about clear misalignments on very important things: how to best address climate change or what will fix our healthcare system or how to reduce our national debt or what it will take to bring racial equity. Those subjects, while critically important, still have room for constructive debate and differing solutions. They are mendable fractures.

But this, this runs far deeper and into the marrow of who we each are.

At this point, with the past few years as a resume, your alignment with the former president means that we are fundamentally disconnected on what is morally acceptable—and I’ve simply seen too much to explain that away or rationalize your intentions or give you the benefit of the doubt any longer.

Pavlovitz understands what allegiance to Trump and MAGA tells us about those loyalists: that they don’t value the lives of people of color or women, that they distrust/dismiss science, and that they are willing to distort and betray the faith they loudly profess.

I now can see how pliable your morality is, the kinds of compromises you’re willing to make, the ever-descending bottom you’re following into, in order to feel victorious in a war you don’t even know why you’re fighting.

That’s why I need you to understand that this isn’t just a schism on one issue or a single piece of legislation, as those things would be manageable. This isn’t a matter of politics or preference. This is a pervasive, sprawling, saturating separation about the way we see the world and what we value and how we want to move through this life.

Agreeing to disagree with you in these matters, would mean silencing myself and more importantly, betraying the people who bear the burdens of your political affiliations— and this is not something I’m willing to do. Our relationship matters greatly to me, but if it has to be the collateral damage of standing with them, I’ll have to see that as acceptable.

Your devaluing of black lives is not an opinion.
Your acceptance of falsehoods is not an opinion.
Your defiance of facts in a pandemic is not an opinion.
Your hostility toward immigrants is not an opinion.
These are fundamental heart issues.

As he concludes:

I believe you’re wrong in ways that are harming people.
You’re wrong to deny the humanity of other human beings.
You’re wrong to justify your affiliation with this violence.
You’re wrong to embrace a movement built on the worst parts of who we are.

Pavlovitz refuses to “agree to disagree” about such profound moral differences.

To which this atheist says: AMEN.


  1. THIS! ……is what I have been trying to put into coherent words for so long. Pavlovitz does it so very eloquently.

  2. He’s excellent in his appraisal of this situation, as well as many others. This MAGA “thinking” (?) bleeds over into every aspect of their lives, not just politics, which shoes how much it is the person’s essence and not just their policy opinions.

  3. It seems that society has reached the point where nothing is important enough to subject it to a simple question: Does it make any sense, or is it just something that feels good? That is a shame.

  4. I firmly believe that white Christian Nationalist are white and not Christian . They are morally defective. The KKK evolved to be called White Christian Nationalist. They say to love thy neighbor, but only if they are white, male and believe the same crap that they do.

    I can NOT vote for someone who is so morally corrupt.

  5. Clearly we must now see that this is what divides the people of the United States. It was never political; it always was and remains morality.

  6. Some people were raised in an aspirational culture, some into a culture overwhelmingly contrary to change.

    The latter is anthropologically the reason humans found culture to be effective adaptation. Don’t live outside of what humans had learned in the past works best for most of us. Avoid unnecessary risks. Learn from our past. We survived this long thanks to those who took risks and learned the error of their ways; they showed the rest of us the consequences of poor choices. That’s what books passed on even more effectively than word of mouth.

    Perhaps there is a correlation between reading as well as only depending on listening; horizons are pushed back.

    My parents avoided satisfying my childhood curiosity with pat answers unless safety was an issue. Might what I wondered be best addressed by their cultural guard rails or would I learn more from trial and error? Go fall down as long as it it didn’t risk unnecessary visits from the Dr.

    In other words, learn from either their cultural knowledge or experiment to determine the consequences myself. No pain, no gain in my own knowledge.

    Could that be why I’m a liberal.

  7. Pascal – spot on. The “standards/ethics/morals” for many in today’s world are “whatever I think they are” . And with many parents believing that, modeling that, parenting by that…we are on the slippery slope of humanity – “right”, “truth” “decency”….depends on my tribe/me/my brand…

  8. I suppose the Maga upside is that it made the Republican/libertarian/conservative thought process explicit. The hate for brown people, thy science denying, the whole “yes for me, but not for thee” thing they do, the spite, etc etc. has been there a very long time. Post Trump, they’ve just become comfortable being direct and are now shouting their bile from the mountain top. Shame it had to be become this direct before anyone said “hang on a minute…” but glad folks are eventually coming around.

  9. I read Pavlovitz’ piece and am reluctant to agree with it, nonetheless I do: some people really are beyond the pale. It’s so easy to say “Well, this person would never treat their dog badly, and they’re active in the Clean the River initiative, so they can’t be ALL bad” – but yes, they are. If they support treating women as chattel/2nd class citizens (“Oh, but I don’t, I just could NEVER vote for a Democrat, that’s all!”), that’s fundamentally different than “Pineapple on pizza yes/no?” (NO, BTW!). Inability to face facts and change behavior accordingly brings to mind Upton Sinclair: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

    I’m reading “Overshoot”, a book written in the 1980’s, which posits that within the last 100 – 200 years the planet reached its carrying capacity for humans. I’m waiting to see if he predicts a population crash, as opposed to a soft landing. My opinion is “crash”, frankly. This is another situation where inability to see what is in front of us, and act accordingly, will be catastrophic for everyone, not “just” women in the USA.

  10. I urge everyone to banish from your life those that think IQ45 should be potus in 2025. You cannot convince them that they are on the wrong side of history. They are just like 45 so they have to bend into a pretzel to see the other side and they are just as stubborn and stupid as 45. Walk away. They can ask why and you can tell them your reasons or Don’t. They won’t change listening to us. They have to see how toxic he is before they see it.

  11. Great topic!

    Moral dilemmas and politics go hand in hand. Can you be a good Christian and also support Trump?

    Of course.

    All politicians are warmongers because the MIC controls them, but we all know God doesn’t want us to kill others. You can’t even find supporters of “peace dividends” in Washington, or very few.

    The last I checked, Trump was one of the few politicians who believed in shrinking the military and using diplomacy instead. Very moral.

    Is he a scoundrel? Yes. Can you be a “good” Christian and support his poor decisions? Depends on how you perceive Christianity and forgiveness. Love the man but have disdain for the poor decisions? Is he a sinner? Aren’t we all?

    Let me turn it around — can you be a moral leader and a politician?

    Entire books are written about the matter because it is a complex issue. Christians certainly don’t have the morality topic cornered for discussion, either. Atheists can be moral as well, and they can make mistakes. Should weak men be forgiven?

    Maybe John Sorg has scripture to back this up…

  12. I’ve had several thoughts since reading this: Amen, Tru Dat, Exactly, Right on, Indeed! I could go on, but I’m guessing you get my drift.

  13. Have followed John Pavlovitz for years. If you ever get the opportunity to hear him speak, be sure to attend. He also answers questions from the audience after speaking.

  14. And, this atheist, as well!
    We res\cantly vacationed in New Hope, Pa., a wonderful p[lace. While there we bought a bumper sticker which reads “THE HIPPIES WERE RIGHT.” When I thunk of someone giving me a hard time for such an outlandish, clearly radical thing, I plan to say, “Oh, but this expresses good old Christian values…love and acceptance, without the bigotry and hatred.”
    Pavlovitz nails it.

  15. Great post, Sheila. Your quotes from Pavlovitz have truly strengthened my resolve to fight the good fight and stand tall, not agree to disagree.

  16. I just now had the time to read yesterday’s blog post about Fani Willis’ letter to Dim Jordan. Wow! She is amazing.

    I plan to start calling the offices of the idiots like him in Congress and also in our state legislature. My question for whatever aide answers their office phone is basically going to be “What is Wrong with you!” ? I will then state that no one with even a tiny fraction of self respect would even consider working for such an ignorant slime-bag.

  17. Pavlovitz is Faux Christianity.
    He preaches the bible as the words /beliefs according to “John Pavlovitz’s social justice interpretation”, not as the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God that it is.
    He doesn’t believe there is a Hell although he sort of hopes there is for the likes of Trump and friends.
    Even Satan quoted scripture and he was a FALSE
    prophet too.
    The battle being fought in this country is a spiritual one – God is on the throne and the final authority and judge. Do not be deceived or harden your heart against the TRUTH which is revealed in Christ Jesus. Seek and you will find.
    The choice is yours.

  18. When I read Sheila’s effort today and thought of a response it occurred to me that meeting the moral problems posed by religion are hard for liberals because liberals are so fearful of embracing absolutes. Thus denial of faith by conventional Christians as a basis for belief, claims that such absolutes of right and wrong (aka morality) are mere social constructs, and other intellectual and not so intellectual (see sky fairies) means of avoiding the issues presented are available to all for choosing, but today it is politicians as well as preachers who want us to return to an 1830ish society, the American equivalent of the Holy Roman Empire, though for (I hope) vastly different reasons. (Note Hitler’s and Putin’s use of the cross to justify rather than put down their murderous philosophies, and long before that a pope who led an army on the field while back at the Vatican his cardinals taught Thou shalt not kill.)

    On the other hand, quoting historical inconsistencies by politicians turned preachers and popes or vice versa is nothing new. Take a look today at Ivy League-educated Republican senators who sound like revival tent preachers when on the stump, where they clearly seek votes rather than redemption of the souls of their listeners. Their plan? Whatever works, even if one must mix religion with government while officially denying that such oil and water can mix.

    Perhaps we crucified the wrong guy.

  19. Becky — thank you for providing such a clear example of Pavlovitz’s concept!

    As Gandhi stated, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

  20. While I heartily agree with the comments expressed on this page, I am looking for leadership that will take us in the right direction. While I dislike interjecting politics in this series of articles from Sheila Kennedy, It is time to get on the right track. It will take time, it will take organized effort and it will take a committed individual to provide that leadership. While I do not support the party that got her in power as state superintendent of public instruction, I am encouraged that she chose what is best for Indiana over party. I recently heard her speak and she is on the right track. I encourage those who read Sheila Kennedy to learn more about Jennifer McCormick and give her your support because she is on the right track.

  21. becky. You will always believe what you want to believe and that is fine. The problems arise when you want to use the power of the government to force everyone to live their lives according to your beliefs. That effort has never produced anything better than religious wars, because you can’t dictate our beliefs any more than we can dictate yours.
    As far as the “inerrant Word of God” is concerned, even Bible scholars who devote their lives to exegesis disagree about what many parts of the Bible actually mean. It is ALWAYS subject to interpretation and there is no reason to think your interpretation is any more valid than Pavlovitz’s. Unless you can read Scripture in the language in which it was originally written, you are accepting someone else’s interpretation. I suggest you practice humility.

  22. Talking with other Christian people, there seems to be no explanation for those who support Trump. It seems the people in rural areas are more likely to support him and the city folks support more main stream candidates. What would it take to change their views? The man is a mental mess and not presidential. God helps us if he were reelected.

  23. Society has been failed by faux Christians no doubt. The Democratic Party has failed the country. Democrats have embraced a corrupt and senile segregationist. Biden is deaf to the needs of the country. Pavlovitz’s conclusions most definitely apply to the idiot king currently residing in the White House.

  24. Becky, as you sit in judgement of John and his Christianity, you would do well to learn about the many Christian denominations that do not believe in hell.

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