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Westar Institute Condemns Trump's Dissemination of Propaganda and Hate Speech

By Alexis Waggoner | 11.29.2017

The latest in incendiary hate speech to come from the twitter account of President Donald Trump are retweets of three anti-Muslim videos from Britain First, a far-right, nationalist political party in the UK. The videos are unverified propaganda, and one appears to be an outright hoax. After Trump’s tweets, Britain First Deputy Leader Jayda Fransen thanked God for Trump’s actions, stating, “God bless you Trump, and God bless America.” Prime Minister Theresa May stated that it was wrong for Trump to retweet the videos. Prime Minister May’s spokesperson said that Britain First uses “hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions.”

As scholars of the Westar Institute deeply invested in better understanding the relationship between “God” and the world, we firmly denounce any religious glorification of hate speech. In a statement at a recent session on “Trump and the threat of Christian Nationalism,” Westar scholar John D. Caputo said that “In Trump time, the stream of egregious offenses — normally unforgettable and career ending — is so steady that examples become obsolete in a matter of hours … this is not deconstruction, this is destruction.”

Jeffrey Robbins, Chair of the Seminar on God and the Human Future, stated, “Whatever it is we might mean by God, and no matter the diversity of our religious conceptions and practices, we must never allow the inexhaustible and ineluctable mystery of God to be reduced to nothing more than an ethno-national god of tribalism. Trump's endorsement of anti-Muslim hate speech does just that.”

Robbins stated further, “While I remain genuinely baffled by the steadfast support of President Trump by American evangelicals, I am even more worried and outraged by his consistent and deliberate act of fanning the flames of Islamophobia.  This appeals to the basest, most deranged and perverted instincts of the Christian identity.”

It is sad and disturbing to see messages of gratitude to God mixed in with hateful and racist rhetoric. We, as Westar scholars of religion, see this as the outgrowth of a movement that seeks to create God in its own image — an image that is white, resentful, violent, and desperate to retain power. We acknowledge that insofar as we can define God at all, there is no room in God for an idol of hate and discrimination. Such an image is counter to a faithful reading of historical texts.

Westar Institute adamantly stands against manipulative and hateful rhetoric in the name of God or anyone else.

Signed,

David Galston, Executive Director, Westar Institute

Jeffrey Robbins, Chair, God and the Human Future, Westar Institute

John Caputo, Fellow, Westar Institute

Joseph Bessler
Fellow, Westar Institute
Phillips Theological Seminary

Arthur Dewey
Fellow, Westar Institute
Xavier University

Andrew D. Scrimgeour
Westar Board of Directors
Dean of Libraries Emeritus
Drew University

Margaret Lee
Fellow, Westar Institute

Glenna S. Jackson
Fellow, Westar Institute
Otterbein University

Sarah Morice Brubaker
Fellow, Westar Institute
Philips Theological Seminary

Jordan E. Miller
Fellow, Westar Institute

Kay Higuera Smith
Fellow, Westar Institute
Azusa Pacific University

Paul Alan Laughlin
Fellow, Westar Institute
Otterbein University

Karen Bray
Fellow, Westar Institute
Wesleyan College

Steven M. Watkins
Fellow, Westar Institute
University of Louisville

Valerie Abrahamsen
Fellow, Westar Institute
Brattleboro, VT

Bernard Brandon Scott
Board Member, Westar Institute
Phillips Theological Seminary

Christopher D. Rodkey
Fellow, The Westar Institute

Charles W. Hedrick
Fellow, Westar Institute
Missouri State University
 
Susan M. (Elli) Elliott
Fellow, Westar Institute
 
Jarmo Tarkki
Fellow, Westar Institute
 
Robert J. Miller
Fellow, Westar Institute
 
Nina E. Livesey, Fellow, Westar Institute
University of Oklahoma
 
Shelly Matthews
Fellow, Westar Institute
 
Marianne Sawicki
Fellow, Westar Institute
Civil Rights Attorney
 
Hannu Saloranta
Fellow, Westar Institute
 
Chris Shea
Fellow, Westar Institute
Ball State University
 
Robert Jones
Fellow, Westar Institute
Retired Chaplain and Teacher
 
Paul H. Jones
Fellow, Westar Institute
Transylvania University
Clayton Crockett
Fellow, Westar Institute 
 
William R. Millar Ph.D.
Fellow, Westar Institute
Professor of Religious Studies, Emeritus, Linfield College
 
Anne Primavesi
Fellow, Westar Institute
 
Whitney A. Bauman
Fellow, Westar Institute
Florida International University
 
Lane C. McGaughy
Past Executive Director, Westar Institute
 
Perry Kea
Chairman of the Board, Westar Institute

Photo of Alexis Waggoner

As Marketing and Digital Education Director, Alexis Waggoner works closely with both Westar’s Marketing Committee and the Executive Director to advance the presence and value of Westar in our culture through social media and the use of digital media in public education. Alexis brings to Westar a unique blend of digital marketing and religious education experience. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary. 

1 reply
  1. Gene Stecher says:

    Fransen and Trump: cult leaders admiring each other.

    Thanks to Westar for publicly challenging the “white, resentful, violent, and desperate to retain power”
    image of God.

    Reply

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