Mainline Presbyterians are engaged in debates about church identity thanks to the Donald. The Stated Clerk of the PCUSA has written a letter instructing Donald Trump that his views on immigration are antithetical to the communion of his baptism:
Presbyterians profess a faith in Christ, whose parents were forced to flee with him to Egypt when he was an infant to save him from King Herod. Knowing our Lord was once a refugee, faithful Presbyterians have been writing church policy urging the welcome of refugees and demanding higher annual admissions into the United States since the refugee crisis of World War II. Presbyterians have a mission presence in many refugee-sending countries, including Syria and Lebanon, where we have been present since 1823. Our relationship with people of faith and communities in these countries gives us knowledge of the root causes of the flight of refugees and further cements a commitment to welcome.
Presbyterians through decades of policy have demanded humane treatment of people of all nationalities and faiths who find themselves within our borders. We have challenged our government when it neglects to acknowledge the refugee status of those fleeing persecution. We have pushed for due process at the border and we continue to petition for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented persons.
As a Presbyterian I acknowledge my immigrant ancestors and my new immigrant sisters and brothers. I also respect that we came uninvited to a land already occupied by people. This creates a sense of humility about my citizenship that shapes my views on those who seek a place here. I hope you will find this helpful. I especially hope it will inform you on your policies going forward.
Meanwhile, Carmen Fowler LaBerge of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, also wonders if Trump knows how far he is from his fellow PCUSA Presbyterians:
Part of Trump’s challenge on this issue is that the PCUSA itself is in the midst of an identity crisis. The Moderator of the denomination has called for a national conversation to gather public opinion around the question of the PCUSA’s identity and mission. One can only hope that Trump will participate in the cattle call for what the Presbyterian Church (USA) is and is called to be.
Maybe Trump can help the denomination find its way out of its liberal political rut that has led it into an ever deepening financial and membership ditch. Maybe Trump can help make the Presbyterian Church (USA) great again. But to do so he’s going to have to begin seeing it for what it is: a denomination that has been driven off the left shoulder on every social and political issue.
People don’t believe Trump is Presbyterian because they know where the Presbyterian Church (USA) stands on issues that differ significantly from Trump’s positions.
I understand a biblical precedent exists for not praying like the Pharisee who thanked the Lord for what he was not. That kind of prayer invites a sense of superiority.
But in this case, that God that Orthodox Presbyterians became a separate Presbyterian communion almost 80 years ago. Trump’s views would be as odd in the OPC as Kevin Swanson’s.