The Bible’s #1 statement is …

DO NOT FEAR. Yet fear is running the table in the hearts of so many in America today. It doesn’t matter that we’re the country with the most weapons (including nuclear weapons), the most wealth, the largest military by far … we also need a strong man, a demagogue/dictator in the making, a “really big” wall (to keep others out – or to trap us in?), the “exceptional” freedom to use torture and even break international law, and surveillance system that makes individual privacy an endangered species. Anything goes when we have media and political industries that make money and win votes based on ginning up fear, fear, and more fear. A friend (and former member of the congregation I served for 20+ years) wrote this to me earlier this week:

Brian, here’s an article that I think deserves your attention and contemplation during your sabbatical:
It turns out that there is substantial reason to think that our current electoral landscape is fueled, on the right, by fear. This explains why people who would normally not give a philanderer like Trump a second thought on election day. Evangelicals (whatever that means — I’m no longer sure) historically vote for people who at least support their values. Trump, on the other hand, is very unevangelical and possibly not even a Christian in any sense that you or I would accept (mere self-identification is not a satisfying definition). In previous elections, he would not be getting the church vote. In this election, he has substantial church support.
But I don’t think that electoral politics is what will most grab your interest in this report. Rather, it is that fear is what drives people to act in ways that are distinctly at odds with the idea of following Christ. How many times in the Bible do we see the words “fear not”? I think somebody has tallied them up and there are a lot. A good discussion of this is in Rick McDaniel’s article at
If we Christians are going to have anything to say to modern (or postmodern) America, we are going to have to find a way to focus on this key theme from the Bible: Fear not! A true Christian realizes (at least intellectually) that there really is nothing to fear. All things work together for good to those who love the Lord. We’ve read the last chapter of the Book, and we found out that we win! Those thoughts and many more that have surfaced in sermons over the years all need to somehow be made real, so that we won’t be only intellectual believers in the “fear not” message, but instead make it a down-deep part of our very souls.
This is a command from God. But it is also a gift. I don’t recall whether I ever told you, but I received that gift some years ago. I had a dream in which [my wife] and I were in a house at night and somebody dressed in military fatigues, carrying a rifle, and accompanied by a dog came looking for us. But I heard a voice saying “Don’t worry. He won’t find you. He can’t even see you. Look, step outside and see what happens.” I went outside and the man was just coming around the side of the house. He looked right at me. He and his dog walked right past me, not seeing, hearing, or scenting me. The source of the Voice had spoken truly. There was nothing to be afraid of.
From that day, I have never had any real fear. Yes, when something scary happens in a movie or in real life, I momentarily react as if I were afraid. That’s in the moment. But, when I structure my life, it is with very little attention to fear. God has given me a deep and abiding sense that all is in God’s hands and that nothing can happen to me or mine, without God’s permission — and, in the end, God will make it all come out right.
People of the 21st century need this gift. Your previous writings, as well as a great many things you preached about when we were in your congregation, strongly suggest that you have some things to say about it.
So I hope you can find some fuel for thought in the article.

Thanks. The article is more than worth reading – it is profoundly important. The chart speaks for itself, as does this quote: “Trump embodies the classic authoritarian leadership style: simple, powerful, and punitive.”
Unless we deal with authoritarianism, we may face an even scarier quote from the article: “Donald Trump could be just the first of many Trumps in American politics.” Will our faith communities rise to the occasion and spread the “do not fear” message, the message that genuine liberating faith in God actually inoculates us against authoritarianism? (I’m reminded of the distinction I made back in my book Finding Faith between “good faith” and “bad faith” – one liberates us from fear and authoritarianism, and the other makes us more susceptible).
I’ll be doing all I can to draw attention to this important article. Thanks for sending it!