What’s Going On: How an ‘animal’ became a saint

His name was Dismas.

Up until the final day of his life, Dismas was just another guy. Not a lot is known about his background, beyond the fact he was a bad dude.

He preyed upon the innocent and as such, was condemned by society. He would eventually be arrested and convicted for his crimes with a punishment as severe as possible: execution.

Society deemed Dismas was no longer fit for living. His was no longer worthy of human life, so it was taken from him.

He was the worst of the worst.

Something subhuman.

Today, we might even call him an animal.

Then came the execution day. As was typical of the era, Dismas wouldn’t die alone. It would be a group affair, as he would be joined by two other men condemned to death by the courts.

One of the other criminals, Gestas, was as bad a man if not worse than Dismas. Gestas in fact started mocking the third condemned man for his devout Christian beliefs.

Dismas came to the Christian’s defense and in the final hours, minutes and seconds of both of their lives, Dismas would admit to and repent of his own sins, while seeking God’s grace and forgiveness.

Call it a successful jailhouse conversion.

For skeptics, it would be easy to doubt Dismas’ sincerity and whether or not he actually did receive God’s eternal blessing were it not for the identity of that third condemned man who said “I say to you today you will be with me in Paradise.”

That third man was Jesus Christ.

Today, Dismas (also known as the repentant thief) is revered in many circles with statues, songs and towns named after him. He achieved sainthood in the Catholic Church and there’s half a dozen churches named after him, including one inside a New York state prison and another built by convicts in Canada.

While he may claim something to the contrary for self-serving political purposes, I’ve never considered Donald Trump to be a devout Christian, or any kind of Christian for that matter. Actions define a person’s character; not words.

The Bible talks about the fruit of the spirit, and they include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. None of those words really come to mind when describing what I see from Donald Trump.

Bragging about affairs. Bragging about not paying taxes. Race baiting. Vulgar, hateful, degrading language. Fear mongering. Lying. Mocking the disabled. These are words and phrases that come to mind when I think of Donald Trump because that, among other things, is what he’s given us and time and time again.

And those actions are directly in contrast to God’s word.

Ordinarily, I’m reluctant to introduce religion into political conversations, but this is an exception because this is an exceptional situation.

I can’t think of another president, Republican, Democrat, Whig or whatever party, who has been more blatantly immoral in his words and actions than Donald Trump. I’m amazed and how he flaunts common Christian doctrine, and then, like a wizard, convinces his Evangelical followers to not only allow it, but embrace it.

At a rally last week, Mr. Trump attacked made the rounds of his all-too-familiar targets, still calling for Hillary Clinton to go to jail and calling Chuck Schumer “a tool.” Then he came to his old buddy Nancy Pelosi, the 6-headed liberal Monster from the evil land of California and called her an “MS-13 Lover.”

Disregarding the fact Pelosi never once mentioned MS-13 in her alleged defense of the gang but spoke of immigrants in general, she did state “We are all God’s children.”

So to recap, the liberal monster conservatives are trained to both fear and loath is defending Christian and Biblical theology, while the leader of the moral majority openly defies it.

And most terrifying of all is the people who empowered Mr. Trump continue to try to find some way to justify his abhorrent behavior, or they ignore it, or worse yet, believe and embrace it.

Evangelical Christians who supported Trump in the campaign need to hold the fox they put in the hen house accountable, because by their own convictions, he’s running amok.

——

Gregory Orear is the publisher of The Journal. His award-winning weekly column, “What’s Going On,” has been published in four newspapers in three states for more than 20 years. He can be contacted at gorear@nujournal.com.

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