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Mr. President: The Pope Doesn’t Represent Christianity

May 22, 2017

When I returned from performing a wedding ceremony in north Florida today I turned on the news. I was very surprised to hear what President Trump had to say to the Arab/Muslim leaders assembled in Saudi Arabia, after stating that Christians, Muslims, and Jews should be able to live side by side in peace in the Middle East.
He said, “In that spirit, after concluding my visit to Riyadh, I will travel to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and then to the Vatican - visiting many of the holiest places in the three Abrahamic Faiths. If these three faiths can join together in cooperation, then peace in this world is possible.”
There is so much about his words that are, frankly, bizarre. First, he spoke the words in the center of fundamentalist violent Islamic extremism, Saudi Arabia. Just a year ago, he commented correctly that the Saudis fund most of the Islamic extremism throughout the world. The Saudi form of Sunni Islam, Salafism (also known as Wahhabism), is the least tolerant and most violent form of Islam. Recently the Saudi King visited Indonesia and gave that nation more than a Billion Dollars, plus other perks, in an effort to promote Salafism.

But the Saudis have been active in Indonesia (and many other Muslim nations) long before that. According to the article below (Saudi Arabia's 'Lavish' Gift to Indonesia: Radical Islam), “Prior to Saudi Arabia's attempts to spread Salafism across the Muslim world, Indonesia did not have terrorist organizations such as Hamas Indonesia, Laskar Jihad, Hizbut Tahrir, Islamic Defenders Front and Jemmah Islamiyah, to name just a few. Today, it is rife with these groups.”
And it was Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Barrack Hussein Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton who created ISIS. Obama & Hillary did their part by minimizing ISIS (remember Obama calling ISIS the “the JV team”?) and prematurely pulling our troops out of Iraq, creating a power vacuum that ISIS was more than happy to fill. The King did his part by funding ISIS, both directly and indirectly. Anyone who takes the time to follow the money will see that ISIS either wouldn’t exist or would be ineffectual today without the financial support of our “ally” Saudi Arabia.
The second bizarre note was struck with his announcement of the visit to Bethlehem as representative of the Muslim religion. Trump was not allowed to visit Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the real heart of the Islamic religion, because only Muslims can visit there. So he used Bethlehem as a proxy. But it is a poor proxy.
Bethlehem is historically part of Israel. Remember, Jesus was born there? But in 637 A.D. Muslim armies captured both Jerusalem and Bethlehem. In spite of this, in 1900 Bethlehem was 90% Christian. Today its population is one-third Christian, a handful of Jews, and the rest Muslim. The Muslims haven’t pushed all the Christians out simply because their entire economy is based on Christian tourists visiting the birthplace of Jesus. Today the “Palestinians” claim Bethlehem.
The problem is that what is today considered “Palestine” is land stolen from Israel by Arabs, Muslims and the “International Community” (translation: a bunch of politicians who think they know more than anyone). The real Palestinian people are Jews and Samaritans (a group of people descended from the Jewish tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh) who split from Judah. The Samaritans adhere to Samaritanism, a religion closely related to Judaism.
The majority of modern-day Palestinians are not Palestinians at all. They just happen to live in the area called Palestine, which has become a huge refugee camp for poor Arabs that the Arab countries want to get rid of. Today the “Palestinians” are actually poor citizens of rich Arab nations who don’t want peace to ever come to Israel. They want all Jews dead or “pushed into the sea” (to use one of their favorite phrases). So they use the poor, uneducated people whom they have dumped in Palestine to conduct suicide attacks against Israelis, fire missiles into Israel, and conduct other aggressions that they don’t have the guts to commit themselves. This is because tiny – but fierce – Israel has whipped them in multiple wars in which Israel was outnumbered ten to one by the Muslim Arabs.
All in all, Bethlehem is a poor choice for the President to use as a proxy for Islam. But, since the Muslims won’t let him visit the real seat of their religion, and since he needed to meet with the Palestinian president to try to kick-start peace talks between Israel and Palestine, it will have to do.
His choice of the Vatican to represent Christianity is really from Bizzaro World. Surely President Trump (who happens to live in the United States) knows that the percentage of Catholics is less than one-third of U.S. Christians and less than one-half of Christians worldwide.
The only reason Roman Catholics approach 50% on the planet is that the Catholic nations of Spain and Portugal conquered much of Latin America (Mexico, Central America, and South America). The Catholics, through their control of governments, outlawed Protestants in this area for centuries (particularly in South America). But in recent years, with those restrictions gone, Protestants are growing much more quickly than Catholics. For instance, in Brazil, the largest nation in Latin America, in 1960, only 5% were Protestants. By 2000 that number had grown to 15%, and today 25% of Brazilians are Protestants. One of the largest churches in the world, with an attendance of 50,000 is the Protestant church in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Similar shifts are taking place across Latin America. In 1910 over 94% of Latin Americans were Catholic. By 2014 that number was 69% - a drop of 27%. By contrast, over the same period, the percentage of Protestants has grown from 1% to 19% - a growth of 1,900%. (See article below, ‘Sorry, Pope Francis: Protestants Are Converting Catholics across Latin America’.) The data above are from 2014. In the years since then, the decrease in Catholicism and the increase in the number of Protestants have escalated, with the greatest increase among Pentecostals.
With the decline in its largest stronghold, Latin America (40% of the world’s Catholics live there); the increase in the number of Protestants in most of the rest of the world; and the Catholics increasing emphasis on politics over spirituality - the Roman Catholic church has lost much of its prestige and influence.
The Catholic Church has two major problems. One is that it considers itself to be the only true church. All other Christians are not Christians, according to Catholic dogma. That automatically shuts down any possibility of true cooperation between the Roman Catholic Church and other Christians. Even the Orthodox Church (a spinoff from the Roman Catholics that has several branches) is not that harsh. I do not say that Catholics are not Christians; but Catholic doctrine says that I am not a Christian. The Catholic Dogma Unam Sanctam decrees, “Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff (Pope).”
The other problem is the way the last few popes have politicized their church, particularly by encouraging Socialism. The fact that the Roman Catholic Church considers the Vatican a City-State (a nation) doesn’t help. They insert themselves into international politics constantly. They even have ambassadors to other states, as if they were a nation. (The pope recently stated that Donald Trump could not possibly be a Christian because he wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Trump responded that the pope should stay out of politics.) In truth, they are just one of many Christian denominations – only bigger than most.
So I can understand President Trump making the mistake of thinking he can negotiate with the pope as if he somehow represented all Christians. Most of the Liberal media pushes that false proposition. But the first rule of negotiation (found in Trump’s own books) is to determine if the person you are negotiating with has the authority to make the deal. Huge numbers of Catholics, both within and without the Roman Catholic Church, either do not recognize the authority of the pope, or they pick and choose which of his decrees they will obey. (See article below, “Catholic Churches that Don’t Recognize Papal Authority.)
In addition to Catholic churches that aren’t under the authority of the Vatican, there are millions of Roman Catholics who openly defy the pope. The most common example of this is the overwhelming number of Catholics who reject the pope’s ban on the use of birth control. Another increasing phenomenon is the number of Roman priests and nuns who are leaving the Roman church because of its unscriptural ban on marriage. Many believe that this unnatural prohibition was the genesis of the international scandal of pedophile priests. Whatever their reasons, many of these priests and nuns continue to serve God in non-Roman Catholic churches (such as the Old Catholic Church in the U.S.), and many have joined evangelical churches.
So, Mr. President, your choice of considering the pope to be the representative of Christians worldwide was a poor one. In addition to the many Roman Catholics who don’t recognize the pope’s authority, none of the non-Roman Catholic churches do. And, of course, the Protestants who represent the majority of Christian in the world in no way recognize the pope’s authority and are very clear that he does not speak for them.
Mr. President, I realize that what you are attempting to do is very difficult. You have many voices in your ear, many giving you good advice, and many giving you atrocious advice. I admire the fact that you are traveling the world, meeting foreign leaders, and letting the people of other nations see who you are.
I believe you will accomplish one thing on this trip. You will let the world know that America is back after eight years of the feckless, cowardly “leadership” of Barrack Obama. And that’s a good thing.

But I think you are naïve when you believe that you can play “Let’s Make a Deal” and fix the problems in the Middle East that have persisted for thousands of years. You stated, “We want to create peace between Israel and the Palestinians. We will get it done. We will be working so hard to get it done. It is something that I think is frankly, maybe, not as difficult as people have thought over the years.”

There has been enmity between the Jews and the Arabs for millennia. There is deep and abiding mistrust and hatred between them. The Israelis just want to be left alone. The Arab starting position for any negotiation is, “All Jews must die.”  Even as great a negotiator as the author of “The Art of the Deal” cannot “fix” this problem. Only the Prince of Peace can do that.
Saudi Arabia's 'Lavish' Gift to Indonesia: Radical Islam

President Donald Trump’s Address in Saudi Arabia (full text)
National Geographic: A history of Bethlehem
Wikipedia: The Palestinians
Sorry, Pope Francis: Protestants Are Converting Catholics across Latin America
Catholic Churches that Don’t Recognize Papal Authority

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Dr. Tom Barrett is a pastor, teacher, author, conference keynote speaker, professor, certified executive coach, and marketplace minister. His teaching and coaching have blessed both church and business leaders. He has been ordained for over 40 years, and has pastored in seven churches over that time. Today he “pastors pastors” as he oversees ordained and licensed ministers in Florida for his ministerial fellowship.

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