On Wednesday, July 26, President Trump tweeted:
"After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military."
Four hours later he also tweeted:
"IN AMERICA WE DON'T WORSHIP GOVERNMENT - WE WORSHIP GOD!"
Why does the President of a self-proclaimed "Christian" nation choose to oppress transgender people by specifically banning them from service in the U.S. military?
Because President Trump, and many Evangelicals, believe in the false notion of Christendom and its perverted role of enforcing the doctrines of the Church.
But they are incorrect.
First of all, there is no such thing as Christendom. According to the model and teachings of Jesus, Christian Empire does not exist. Jesus came to make disciples, plant a church, and offer himself as a living sacrifice. He came here to lay down his life, not save it. And he warned his disciples that they should expect, and do, the same. But the Empire must save its life. The Empire must protect itself. The purpose of Empire is in direct opposition to the teachings and the model of Jesus. Thus, Christendom is the prostitution of the Church to the Empire.
And second, since the 4th century, beginning with the writings of Augustine of Hippo, Christendom has been used to justify creating theological categories of "other" in order to "sanctify" their mistreatment and oppression. Throughout the centuries Christian Empire has provided the justification for the oppression of many groups, including heretics, Muslims, indigenous people, people with black skin and now the LGBTQ community.
As a Native man, someone from a group of people who have been oppressed, mistreated and ethnically cleansed from these lands because we were categorized as "other" by the Christian Empire known as the United States of America, I am deeply concerned by the words and actions of President Trump regarding transgender people. It is extremely difficult to govern a country, let alone claim to follow Christ, when you cannot even treat your neighbor and your fellow citizens as fully human.
I welcome you to read another article I recently published titled Where Augustine Goes Off the Rails which details how the church got from a message of mercy and grace in Luke 7 to the Doctrine of Discovery. How it got from following a savior who was persecuted and executed for his faith, to an imperial power that oppressed, persecuted and even executed those it determined to be "other."
Mark Charles is a speaker, writer and consultant from Fort Defiance, Arizona (Navajo Nation). He is a graduate of UCLA and the organizer of A New Conversation: A Public Reading of the US Apology to Native Peoples. He also consults as a Resource Development Specialist for Indigenous Worship at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and is the Primary Investigator on a study conducted through Brigham Young University on the Navajo perception of time.