‘Trump’ pastor’s call for Sanders to ‘meet Jesus’ offends many

Print More
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump asks his supporters to raise their hands and promise to vote for him at his campaign rally at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida on March 5, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Kevin Kolczynski

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump asks his supporters to raise their hands and promise to vote for him at his campaign rally at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida on March 5, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Kevin Kolczynski

Revelations-Series-Banner-770x150

(RNS) Jews, atheists and others denounced televangelist Mark Burns and Donald Trump after the pastor kicked off a North Carolina Trump rally by calling for Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish, to “get saved.”

“Bernie Sanders, who doesn’t believe in God, how in the world (are) we going to let Bernie — I mean, really?” Burns said to the crowd’s applause. “Bernie’s got to get saved, Bernie’s got to meet Jesus. He’s got to have a coming to Jesus meeting.”

After Monday’s (March 14) rally, headlines from the U.S to Israel spread news of the North Carolina pastor’s remarks, and the Internet lit up with charges that Burns and Trump — who is currently leading the GOP presidential field ahead of Tuesday’s next round of primaries — were trying to pit Christians against Jews and non-believers.

Sanders, lone rival to the leading Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, is not religious but has said he is proud of being Jewish and that it is an integral part of his identity.

Here is a sample of the reaction to Burns’ remarks:

Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance:

“It is profoundly un-American to use a campaign platform to denigrate and demean the faith of a candidate for President, it is unbecoming of a member of the clergy to do so when these rallies have increasingly resulted in violence toward religious and racial minorities. Like almost no other campaign in recent memory, this election cycle has demonstrated just how easily rhetoric that abuses Americans of all kinds can turn into incitement and violence.”

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism:

“We are offended by the comments of a Pastor prominently featured at a Donald Trump rally saying that Bernie Sanders must “meet Jesus.” Reform Jews, like millions of Americans, find meaning, strength, comfort and community in our faith. Yet a candidate’s faith or lack thereof has no bearing on his or her fitness for office. We call on Donald Trump to denounce Pastor Burns’ comments and refuse to associate himself with religious leaders who attack the religion of any of his political rivals.”

Hermant Mehta on his “Friendly Atheist” blog:

“Besides the idiocy of slamming another candidate on the basis of his religion, it doesn’t even make any sense. As the saying goes, Jesus was a Jewish socialist. He reached out to the minorities of his time. He helped the poor and said, ‘it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ Sanders seems to have the ‘Jesus’ concept down pat. Meanwhile, Trump can’t even get Christianity right. He doesn’t ask for forgiveness, swears like a sailor, misstates Bible verses, and urges mobs to go after his enemies.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

“We urge Pastor Burns to retract and apologize for his hurtful comments. They convey the offensive, erroneous, and exclusionary message that Jews and other religious minorities are unfit to be President, and they are disrespectful remarks to Jews beyond just an election. Every American can aspire to be President regardless of their faith or background. There is no religious litmus test to hold the Presidency or any other elected office. That right is guaranteed by the Constitution, which strictly prohibits religious tests for public office.

(Lauren Markoe is a national reporter for RNS)

  • Pingback: ‘Trump’ pastor call for Sanders to ‘meet Jesus’ offends many - mosaicversemosaicverse()

  • Pingback: ‘Trump’ pastor call for Sanders to ‘meet Jesus’ offends many | Christian News Agency()

  • Tom

    That Pastor is nutty. Bernie needs a “Come to Trotzky” moment. Not Jesus!

  • Jack

    What a buffoon……he’s assuming that his guy, Trump, is a Christian, which is about as likely as Hannibal Lecter being a vegan.

    These pro-Trump pastors are looking like absolute idiots. No wisdom, no spiritual or moral discernment of any kind…..totally clueless. Going to these charlatans for spiritual help is like going to a witch doctor for medical advice.

  • Paula

    Does the story have to be “Jews, atheists and others denounced televangelist. . . ” when the fact is that most Christians are also appalled. Politicians like Trump would love to tell the story as this article does — Christians on one side, everybody else on the other. That doesn’t make it true.

    Waiting for the article on “Evangelicals for Bernie Sanders.”

  • Stacey

    Why isn’t CNN covering this tonight?
    I am so tired of all the Trump coverage.
    Here is another story – no coverage at all?

  • feet_ontheground

    ‘We Cannot Worship Just Billioniares & The Making of More & More Money, LIFE IS MORE THAN THAT’ -Bernie Sanders https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1g1j8yq-qE

    #HowMuchIsTrumpPayingYOU #SaveYourselfMarkBurns

  • feet_ontheground

    What is just? What is moral? Bernie Sanders at Liberty University with Q&A https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3qT4qMeLxU

  • feet_ontheground

    A Liberty U Alum, Makes a Biblical Argument For Supporting Bernie Sanders #TrueLeader #RealHuman #Integrity
    https://clyp.it/eusxalwe

  • susan

    This type of talk is not limited To Mark Burns. Many Christians believe this. They just don’t say it publicly. I had a chance to ask a Black Baptist minister if the Jews who were murdered in Auschwitz are now in Heaven or Hell. He rather reluctantly admitted that they were now in Hell.

  • If we are going to be fair, we might want to ask Trump to do what was asked of Bernie. After all, how can someone who does not see the need to ask for forgiveness be saved?

  • Jack Felden

    Everyone is so sick of you saying the same thing every day. Get some new material.

  • wendel

    Imagine how offended and disrespected Christians would feel if they were told to convert to stone worship, because, after all, the stone worshippers’ bible commands them to spread the word, a word which is superior to all others.

  • Reid E. Pagliaccio

    Shocking. Reprehensible. Totally unacceptable. Man exercises right to practice religion and free speech at the same time, two first amendment activities rolled into one. To the wall, baby!

  • Pingback: Daily Kickoff: One theory why Bibi won’t visit D.C. | When Rahm & the founder of WeWork cursed each other in Hebrew | Seth Rogin’s Sausage Party | Jewish Insider()

  • Garson Abuita

    Both of those rights can be exercised obnoxiously. One fell swoop indeed.

  • Phillip Teitlebaum

    And then there is the minor issue of what the US Constitution says. Article VI, clause 3:
    …; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

  • G Key

    However did you obtain all of humanity’s opinions, Mr. Felden? At any rate, you left me out.

    Besides, RNS comments aren’t exclusively read by your exclusive population of “so sick everyones”.

    Care E. makes a crucial point regarding the many (though certainly not all) believers who fixate on their own pet peeves — all too often about other people — rather than on “holding only themselves to their own beliefs, and subjecting only themselves to their own faiths’ demands”.

    BTW, that last quote is one of mine that I often repeat, not for lack of “new material”, but because it bears repeating, based on how those particular believers disrespect other people and their equally rightful “boundaries, beliefs, belonging, bodies, bedrooms, and business” (another of my common quotes).

    Maybe you should read Care E.’s posts more often. “Being mean” with a “sharp tongue” aimed at other people’s posts is infinitely worse than being pointedly repetitive, in my book.

  • Pingback: Peace at a Trump Rally? | N E V E R I N S I D E()

  • Fran

    The moral majority of mankind who are dead are in the grave (referred to as Sheol and Hades in the Bible), not aware of anything at all (Ecclesiastes 9:5,6,10). However, a resurrection hope of life back on earth is available to many of those (John 5:28,29; Acts 24:15) in the near future.

  • Lauren Markoe

    Hi Paula. Definitely not trying to put Christians on one side and everybody else on the other. In fact, I write in the story that people are upset and accuse Burns of doing that. And the reasonI went with “Jews, atheists and others” is because Jews and atheists gave the strongest and most immediate response to Burns’ comments. Also, I like your idea for a story about evangelicals for Bernie. Thanks for writing.

  • G Key

    I was shocked the first time I heard Donald Trump say, under his claimed cover of Christianity, that he has (I’m paraphrasing here) never asked God’s forgiveness because he’s never done anything that would require God’s forgiveness.

    I was shocked that Pastor Burns inexplicably overlooked that grievously self-exalted lie and boastfully defiant denial of one of Christianity’s basic tenets, so well stated by Paul in Romans 3:23 (NIV): “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,…”

    And I’m shocked that so many who call themselves “Christians” piously vote for, devoutly support, and practically worship a guy who repeatedly professes to be as perfectly sinless as Jesus.

  • Jack

    Well, Bernie needs Trotsky like a 500-pound man needs a banana split.

    I think Bernie could use a little bit of Tocqueville from the 19th century, a bit of Milton Friedman and Eric Hoffer from the last century, and a small dose of post-1960s writings from ex-radicals.

  • Jack

    Thanks Care E.

  • Jack

    Hmm…..that means “Jack Felden” is reading the other poster’s stuff every day. And yet, this is the first time I recall the name “Jack Felden” on any of these boards.

    Was “Jack Felden” shy about posting until now? Was he a silent reader who never posted until now?

    Not likely.

    Or…….is “Jack Felden” yet another of a string of made-up names by a certain regular poster on these boards who collects names the way Victorian women collected hats?

  • Jack

    Susan, every religion, as with every philosophy, ultimately makes exclusive claims. It is logically impossible for it to be otherwise.

    Reality itself is exclusive at some point. If I say A is always true and you say A is either false or not always true, we cannot both be correct about A. It is hardly intolerant to point this out.

    Seen in that light, true tolerance means handling this reality in a way that treats people with dignity and fairness, affirming their right to freedom of conscience, to make the choices on matters of ultimate reality as they see fit, realizing that just as every choice on every matter in this life has consequences, so must it be regarding life after death if such a thing exists.

  • Jack

    Curt, you are absolutely correct. Perfect.

    You have perfectly highlighted what is wrong with pastors who endorse Trump for president.

    Again, I would flee from any church or Christian institution whose leader has done so, for the very reason you just gave.

    Sometimes I wonder whether our culture has become so accustomed to the words of the Gospel, people, including pastors, have become inoculated against its heart and meaning, and what it means to repent and turn to Christ. The entire thing rests on the admission that one needs forgiveness of sin. Absent that premise, nothing that follows makes a shred of sense.

  • Jack

    Curt, you are absolutely correct. Perfect.

    You have perfectly highlighted what is wrong with pastors who endorse Trump for president.

    Again, I would flee from any church or Christian institution whose leader has done so, for the very reason you just gave.

    Sometimes I wonder whether our culture has become so accustomed to the words of the Gospel, people, including pastors, have become inoculated against its heart and meaning, and what it means to repent and turn to Christ. The entire thing rests on the admission that one needs forgiveness of sin. Absent that premise, nothing that follows makes a shred of sense.

  • Jack

    Garson is correct. This was an ill-disguised political stunt…..and ironic, given that we know for a fact, given Trump’s own words about not needing forgiveness, that Trump is not a Christian, anymore than a warrior is a pacifist.

    Which proves the pastor is either a theological and spiritual ignoramus, or he is a fraud who doesn’t care about what his faith teaches, but just wants to use it to score points at a political rally.

  • Jack

    Phillip, as a constitutional and legal matter, you’re incorrect because while no one can be legally barred from public office due to religion,it is not illegal for individual Americans not to vote for someone who is not of their faith.

    But in spirit, you are correct in that we are a nation and people who are about voting for the best individual, irrespective of religion.

  • Jack

    Wendel, I hear a lot worse from militant atheists regularly on boards and I am not offended. They are being logically consistent, given their premise that God doesn’t exist.

  • Neon Genesis

    I’m pretty sure most Jews don’t believe in converting Christians to their faith and Islam teaches that Christians and Jews are the People of the Book and will also be saved. Christian radicals and terrorists are about the only ones who teach they’re the only people going to heaven. Even most ordinary evangelical Christian would say it’s not their role to judge somebody else’s faith.