RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina pastor John Pavlovitz is no stranger to controversy.
Pavlovitz, who lives in Wake Forest, N.C., and works as a pastor at North Raleigh Community Church Downtown, has a blog called “Stuff that needs to be said” in which he writes about a myriad of topics and has garnered criticism for his politics and preaching.
He’s at it again, and his sights are set on President Donald Trump.
“It’s time we stopped calling Donald Trump a Christian” is the title of a Feb. 2 piece in which Pavlovitz argues that Trump’s life shows contempt toward the life that Jesus lived and taught: “humility, generosity, respect, empathy, kindness, peace.”
“Sure, he was on his third marriage and was heard on video boasting of his infidelity to his current wife,” he wrote. “Yes, he said he could grab a woman by the genitalia. Yes, he advocated that protesters at his rallies be ‘roughed up.’ Sure, he made fun of a disabled man. Certainly, he talked about walling off Mexicans and banning Muslims and taking away health care. But Donnie loved Jesus now — so all should be well with our souls.”
Pavlovitz called it “ludicrous” that Donald Trump “was now a Christian,” and “that he’d miraculously ‘found Jesus’ right at the time he needed to pull in millions of Evangelical voters.”
Other blog posts from Pavlovitz that have gone viral are “The GOP is not a pro-life, Christian party,” “If I Have LGBTQ Children (Four Promises From a Christian Pastor/Parent)” and “Non-Republican Christians exist. I am one.”
While Pavlovitz makes no secret of his politics or his feelings toward the president, the piece about Trump drew attention when it was published in February and was making the rounds on social media again last week.
Pavlovitz asserted that high-profile evangelists steered their “rightly alarmed flocks” toward Trump by arguing he “was changed man, a ‘baby Christian’ who’d now seen the light and was making his way down the narrow road of faith to lead us all to the Promised Land (where curiously America was first and everyone was white.)”
As a pastor of 20 years, Pavlovitz said it was difficult to watch.
“Millions of fundamentalists who’d previously spent their days parsing out Bible verses to condemn the LGBTQ community, Muslims, entertainers, atheists, Democrats, suddenly became a people of Grace. They got really liberal with the Scriptures. They lectured those of us who questioned it all ‘not to judge lest we be judged,’ and heaped shame upon us for bringing up example after example of the man’s hypocrisy, because ‘God looks at the heart’ and how dare we assess another’s professed faith.”
More recently Pavlovitz wrote about Trump and the situation in Syria with “Crocodile Trumper tears and dead Syrian children.”
But Pavlovitz said he hopes Trump can use his powerful position to do good.
“I don’t know Donald Trump. He may actually believe he is a Christian. He may be so surrounded by sycophants and religious yes-men that no one is giving him the hard words about the kind of gentle, loving, sacrificial life Jesus called his people to live. If that’s the case I hope that he, like Saul will have a moment where his eyes are opened and he sees the goodness he might do with the power and influence at his disposal — and he is changed. But right now, using him as a symbol of the Christian faith is catastrophic for people looking on.”