In this week's lectionary Gospel text for the Third Sunday in Advent, John the Baptizer refers to those who have come to hear him preach as a "brood of vipers." I cannot help but think of the rhetoric of Donald Trump and his minions when I read that passage. I would imagine that a brood of vipers would be a most unpleasant gathering: individual serpents slithering over one another to get at prey, hissing warnings, striking at one another, all in an effort to get an advantage.
Some have likened the current atmosphere to that of the McCarthy era, when anyone who was not thought to be of proper thinking and comportment was brought before a senate committee. That committee, whose hearings were televised, demanded that friends betray friends, colleagues decimate one another, and all bow to the mindset of one the committee's most deranged members. Unbelievably, this madness went on until a Mr. Welch had his fill of McCarthy's unrelenting attacks on a junior law clerk, and uttered the now-famous line, "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"
I am sick and tired of my Muslim sisters and brothers in the faith being victimized and demonized in the name of making political points. This is not the America we inherited from our forebears. When Welch challenged McCarthy, it was the beginning of the end for the Wisconsin senator. The tide seems to be turning as well against Mr. Trump and his cohorts, and Christians should be at the forefront of the criticism of his tactics. The one we claim to follow commanded us to love one another, even when we may disagree, politically, doctrinally or personally. A severed pig's head was thrown in front of the door of a mosque in Philadelphia this week. Hateful rhetoric exacts a fearsome price on those about whom it is directed. It is my belief in the coming Prince of Peace that I await this Advent season that impels me to speak out against the brood of vipers taking center stage in America right now. I hope that you will join me.