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Prayer, faith should be normal, not news

I do not know Mike Pompeo.

But I do know the man who is poised to become U.S. secretary of state claims to be a Christian and has served as a deacon and Sunday school teacher in his church. He is also a man who prays.

That has led to some interesting stories in the media lately. And most of them follow the same approach: How can the man tasked with representing the U.S. around the world be an outspoken Christian? How can he claim that Jesus is the only way to God and still represent our nation?

It was even news that Pompeo’s church had prayed over his confirmation process. The take-away is that this is such an abnormal thing that it should be newsworthy.

His critics have argued that he can’t possibly work with Muslim leaders because he is Christian. That’s absurd logic.  Using that logic, he would have to be Muslim in order to work with Muslim leaders, correct?  How ridiculous.

Pompeo might make a terrible secretary of state, but not because he is Christian.

“I’ve heard these critiques,” Pompeo said. “I’ve worked closely with Muslim leaders, with Muslim countries. The CIA has saved countless, thousands of Muslim lives during my 15 months. This is at the core of who I am, Sen. (Cory) Booker, and I promise you I will treat persons of each faith or no faith with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

Booker also grilled him on his views on same-sex marriage.

“My respect for every individual, regardless of their sexual orientation, is the same,” Pompeo said. He also said he does not believe it’s appropriate for gay people to marry.

How did we reach this point in our country when being a Christian is a liability? Sure, there have always been those who criticize religion. But this feels different. This feels like a direct attack on a specific religion, because that religion dares to state that we aren’t all worshiping the same God and that Christ alone is the way to heaven.  Heck, just saying there’s a heaven is controversial these days.

Not in Brookhaven. Not in Mississippi. Not in most of America. But it is to most of the folks producing media in this country, who tend to be clustered on the East and West coasts. 

And so we get critical coverage of a man based only on his religious views, which appear to be the same religious views much of this country shared not that long ago. Religion, by law, can’t be a discriminating factor when it comes to hiring employees. The same should go for confirming political appointees. Again, Pompeo might make a terrible secretary of state, and senators can choose to confirm him or not based on his qualifications, but not based on his faith.

This antagonistic approach to Christianity may soon become the norm, instead of the exception. America is changing, becoming more secular and more hostile to those who profess a faith that is not to their liking.

Christianity, as found in the Bible, is clear that it’s Jesus or nothing. There is no less-offensive middle ground that will suffice. America used to know and believe this. But no more. What passes for Christianity today is often a hollow prosperity gospel, or a false “we’re just like other religions” faith that hopes to offend no one, or merely something politicians claim in order to win votes.

Just look at President Trump, who claims to be Christian but has said he doesn’t feel the need to ask God for forgiveness. That’s like claiming you are an astronaut but never leaving earth.

But some who identify as “evangelical Christian” do not care about his lack of faith, or his lies, or his adultery, or his pettiness, or any of the other things that we would find abhorrent in our own children. Some only care about the things he can provide — conservative Supreme Court justices being chief among them. This has cheapened Christianity in the eyes of many, making it easier to belittle and attack believers.

I fear the America my children and grandchildren inherit will be one where faith of any sort, especially Christianity, is condemned and marginalized. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

Publisher Luke Horton can be reached at luke.horton@dailyleader.com.