The Rev. Joseph D’Souza is archbishop of the Anglican Good Shepherd Church of India and president of the All India Christian Council. The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of BCNN1.
When President Donald Trump touches down in India this week for a state visit, he’ll find himself in a nation that is only 2.3% Christian, yet counts 28 million adherents to the faith on an Asian continent that is already home to 350 million Christians — on its way to 450 million by 2025.
These figures put into perspective the recent editorial in Christianity Today that called on America’s evangelical Christian voters to support Trump’s removal from office in his impeachment trial. The article by outgoing editor Mark Galli went viral and prompted a new round of handwringing over whether evangelicals in the United States should have voted for a man who doesn’t appear to live up to Christian values.
Evangelicals’ loyalty to President Trump, the editorial alleged, will “crash down on the reputation of evangelical religion and on the world’s understanding of the gospel.”
Largely missing from the conversation was the voice of those Christians from the “global south” who represent 60% of the world’s evangelical population. The assumption is that evangelical Americans are the custodians of global evangelical witness, a notion that is, plainly put, ethnocentric.
Church historians have long known that the topography of the Christian religion, including evangelicalism, has shifted dramatically over the past century. While America and Europe are increasingly secular, Christianity has spread exponentially across Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and South and East Asia and is in fact thriving in many countries despite facing severe persecution and opposition.
For many of us, the time American evangelicals risked endangering the witness of the gospel was the Iraq War, which was urged on us by President Bush, unlike Trump, a self-professed evangelical. At one point Bush argued — astonishingly — that his view on the war was “not primarily from a political-science perspective; frankly, it’s more of a theological perspective.” Many former Bush administration “neocons,” ironically, have made it their pastime to attack the current president on moral grounds.
Most of us around the world are bemused by the myriad ironies in American politics. We certainly do not worry that they will affect our witness, because people make their minds up about Christianity based on the witness they see locally and personally.
Even the massive loss of life caused by the Iraq War and the turmoil it unleashed did not prevent gospel witness. Certainly, it did not make friends for America, and across the Middle East it had a negative impact on the relationship between Muslims and Christians, allowing tribal and ethnic tensions that had long been fermenting to explode into the open. The war played a role in the emergence of ISIS, whose brutal terrorist campaign against religious minorities such as Christians and Yazidis reached near-genocidal levels.
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Source: Religion News Service