Righting America

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We All Could Use a Little Mercy Now | Righting America

by William Trollinger

Photo of the US House of Representatives with Nancy Pelosi standing at the top lectern with a crowd of representatives surrounding and debating around the lectern.

On December 18, 2019, United States House of Representatives votes to adopt the articles of impeachment, accusing Donald Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Source: House Floorcast – Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Here it is, two days after the House of Representatives impeached Donald Trump for abuse of power, and I cannot get Mary Gauthier’s “Mercy Now” out of my head.

In 2018,  National Public Radio (NPR) ranked this song #158 in a list of the 200 greatest songs by a female or nonbinary artist in the 21st century. According to NPR:

Trump was impeached despite the lockstep opposition of the GOP representatives, who seemed (for individuals charged with upholding the Constitution) remarkably determined not to even consider the evidence at hand; instead, Georgia’s Barry Loudermilk portrayed Donald Trump as perhaps the greatest victim in history: “Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than the Democrats have afforded the president in this process.” Gauthier’s words seem right on point:

People in power, well
They’ll do anything to keep their crown
I love life, and life itself could use some mercy now.

Of course, these Republican representatives would respond differently if their base evinced concern that the president abused his office for his personal political benefit. But instead, Franklin Graham – urged on by fellow Trump-lover Eric Metaxas – claimed that “it’s almost a demonic power” that is fueling the impeachment hearings, while evangelical leaders Samuel Rodriguez and Johnnie Moore have proclaimed that the Democrats have actually “impeached millions of God-fearing, family-loving and patriotic Americans.” 

The message here is not terribly subtle. Rodriguez and Moore are making it quite clear that evangelicals would most certainly make Republican representatives and senators pay if they actually did their constitutional duty. Again, “Mercy Now” seems the perfectly appropriate anthem for this moment in American history:

My church and my country could use a little mercy now
As they sink into a poisoned pit
That’s going to take forever to climb out
They carry the weight of the faithful
Who follow them down
I love my church and country
And they could use some mercy now.

Adding to all of this, many evangelical leaders and institutions are taking a pass on the issue: the National Association of Evangelicals has not said a word, while Christianity Today – the best-known evangelical periodical – has managed to produce nary an editorial on the topic. Perhaps their silence is evidence that they also fear their white evangelical base. Whatever the reason, their unwillingness to engage the issues simply turns the floor over to the Trump-loving firebrands. 

So, you can see where this post was headed. It was written Thursday afternoon, and ready to go for Friday morning. But after dinner Thursday evening, my daughter Anna – a sophomore English, History, and Religious Studies triple major here at the University of Dayton – told me,  “Dad, Christianity Today has just published an editorial calling for Trump’s removal.”

This is a big deal. I congratulate Mark Galli and his colleagues at Christianity Today (CT) for saying what has so long needed to be said. This President does not share the faith or the values that evangelicals have claimed to profess for decades. And as the editorial makes clear, the result of evangelical obeisance to Trump is a tarnishing of the Gospel itself.

I am a historian, and – as the CT editorial makes abundantly clear – history is contingent. I have no idea where this story is headed, and those making predictions don’t know, either. What I can say is that we are all in this together. What is happening affects all of us. As Mary Gauthier concludes:

Yeah, we all could use a little mercy now
I know we don’t deserve it
But we need it anyhow
We hang in the balance
Dangle ‘tween hell and hallowed ground
Every single one of us could use some mercy now
Every single one of us could use some mercy now

Amen and amen.
Listen to the song for yourself: