On politics, religion, and presidential elections (subtitle: fill in the blank; sub-subtitle: WWJD?)
The American socio-political climate is as sizzling and sweltering as a South Carolina spring morning when long before noon the temperature and humidity climb to the high-80s (or higher!). The unrest, characteristic of the 2016 presidential campaign (which was, I think, in part, a bitter fruit of the rising, roiling ideological conservative-liberal tensions of the prior decade), pestilentially persists. Those who voted for _______, some of whom rather would have voted for _______, with the election of Donald Trump, are _______, _______, and _______ .
In the light of this heat, here, in the South, I hear political speech with religious undertones (or is it religious speech with political overtones?). To wit (with each successive declarative or interrogative statement, from whatever side of the political spectrum, uttered with increasing certainty and stridency):
“Jesus would have voted for _______.”
“Jesus told me to vote for _______.”
“How in God’s name could you vote for _______?”
“How can you call yourself a Christian and vote for _______?”
I am a Christian. I love and follow Jesus. I strive, praying the strength of the Holy Spirit, to obey his one commandment: to love unconditionally. Daily, I try. Daily, I fail. Daily, I pray the Spirit’s presence and guidance to try again.
Given my existential and spiritual orientation, at first, I was taken aback by what I deem unabashed and unbridled hypercritical politico-religio language. Then, catching myself (or, rather, the Spirit catching me) falling prey to judging others, I stepped back from the precipice of that pit so to look and to listen with the eyes and ears of love. What or rather who I see and hear are my sisters and brothers, some of whose expressions correspond with mine and some not. Yet my agreement or disagreement does not, must not affect my ability and willingness to tolerate, even more, to accept, and still more, to honor their thoughts and feelings, their wants and needs, their hopes and fears that are the ground, the heart from which spring their words. And in that tolerance, acceptance, verily, reverence for their God-given human dignity, I can “lay down my life” – my preferences and prejudices – for their sake.
 What would Jesus do?
 Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump
 In the case of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or, in the case of Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsay Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobbly Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, or Scott Walker or, with the choice of voting for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, did not vote.
 happy, hopeful, and compliant or sorrowful, fearful, and defiant
 Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13.34-35) and “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15.12-13).
 During my many years of living and laboring in and around Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, where the lingua franca is über-partisan, self-authenticating, other-vilifying speech, I do not recall hearing anything like this.