After an eventful few days, Donald J Trump has left the building. Or more precisely, he’s left the UK and flown to Helsinki for a summit with Vladimir Putin.
He certainly has an interesting taste in lunch companions. But now Mr Trump has left these shores, it gives us a chance to reflect on his visit and the protests that went on while he was here.
As the BBC’s rolling coverage showed, hundreds of thousands took to the streets of central London on Friday. And the Trump balloon, which depicted the President as a baby in a diaper holding a phone – a reference to the President’s love of tweeting - was flown. Wherever he went, there were people letting him know what they thought of him and the policies he’s enacted (the above photo was taken at the Scotland United Against Trump protest in George Square, Glasgow).
While all this was taking place, some argued that it was all a bit infantile and puerile. I for one, could not agree more. I was more than a little embarrassed by some of footage I saw while the President was here. It seemed to me the height of virtue signalling.
It’s not that I especially like Mr Trump – I really don’t. Some of his actions have been, to say the least, highly dubious. His moral character is deeply tarnished. I understand those who argue he is unfit to hold the office of President. But are we saying President Trump is as bad as President Assad? The Syrian President visited the UK in 2002 - where were the huge demonstrations then?
The Trump balloon wasn’t funny, or amusing, or clever or a good idea. It was a ridiculous and embarrassingly infantile stunt that said more about the protesters than about the US President.
Some Christians have joined on the anti-Trump bandwagon with real passion. If only that passion and energy was directed to standing up for the unborn baby, which might be a lot less popular, but to my mind, is a lot more important.
Or to take another example: Pastor Andrew Brunson is languishing in a Turkish jail on entirely false charges right now. Christians are being persistently persecuted in many places around the world. But are people taking to the streets in large numbers to protest about that?
The Apostle Paul says our conversation is to be gracious and seasoned with salt. I remember being in a Bible study where someone made the point that this includes how we speak about rulers and those in authority. I was stuck by that. We live in a culture where criticising your leaders is not only approved of, but is highly fashionable. Are we being sucked into that sort of mentality where we join on the anti-Trump bandwagon just because it’s the popular thing to do?
I’m not saying everything he’s done is good. But there are some decisions he’s taken I can absolutely get behind. De-funding Planned Parenthood is one. His massive tax cuts and deregulation policies are working well for the US economy as well. Of course, he’s also made decisions I find inexplicable. But I want to try and weigh each policy on its own merits.
Let’s also remember the power of God. I turn to the Bible and I find God using powerful nations, like the Babylonians to accomplish his purposes. I find him using an all-powerful ruler like Cyrus to sign an edict allowing God’s people to return to the Promised Land. I discover Daniel, who was raised up to influence Darius and Nebuchadnezzar by speaking and demonstrating truth to power. Perhaps Mike Pence can do something similar in the Trump administration?
The point is: God is in control of Trump. This gives me immense hope. God can use President Donald J Trump to do good. To deny so is just to allow your personal feelings about an admittedly horrible man to cloud your judgement. The key to all this is to differentiate between the man and the office he is representing. Sadly, too many protesters conflated the two. But we should respect the office, even if we do not like the man.
I’m not a fan of Trump. But I’m not so sure the last few days reflected that well on the UK. It’s not as if the protests achieved anything. Trump’s too busy tweeting to really care.