Readers Write: June 2024

June 5, 2024 | Opinion | Volume 28 Issue 8

Does CM support Trump?


I was dismayed to see you giving free advertising to Donald Trump and the God Bless the USA Bible (“What in the world,” May 2024). There are a few reasons for my concern.


First, this is a commercial venture. The Bibles are sold for US$60 each. Contrast that with the Gideons International, which my father belonged to for more than 70 years; their mission is to give Bibles away for free.


Second, the Trump-endorsed Bible is made into an American book with the implication that God is on the side of Americans. In fact, the Bible is a universal book. Translators like those at Wycliffe Bible Translators have given of themselves to make the Bible available to peoples around the world in their own languages.


Third, I draw your attention to the distinction Thomas Reynolds makes in the book René Girard and Creative Mimesis between monotheism and monolatry. The former is a belief in a transcendent universal creator; the second posits that the one God is the god of one’s own tribe, nation or religion. Trump’s framing of his Bible, in the clip one gets by clicking on the website, is clearly suggesting monolatry, which is a form of idolatry.


Fourth, Trump uses the marketing of this Bible to advance his political agenda, suggesting that reading this particular Bible and adopting his values will advance the greatness of America.


By uncritically printing a picture of Trump with the God Bless the USA Bible, you are helping him make money and, more perniciously, spreading an idolatrous message of Christian nationalism.


- Vern Neufeld Redekop, Ottawa ( Ottawa Mennonite Church)


Re: “Am I Mennonite?” (May 2024)


Over the past five years, I have gotten to know the folks in Evangelical Mennonite Church Vietnam. Some of them have been Mennonite since the 1970s. They are proud to be Mennonite in Vietnam, especially as they have taken stands for justice that have brought on persecution and imprisonment. I have learned that being Anabaptist is a foreign concept to them and even the meaning behind the word does not represent their story, as many come from Buddhist backgrounds.


As we respond to their requests for leadership development and we provide them with Anabaptist resources, we have to explain that Anabaptist is another word for what Mennonites believe and practice. Then they understand.


- Garry Janzen


Re: “Am I Mennonite?” (May 2024)


I appreciate your response, Garry. You raise important points. Thank you.


I wrote this from my perspective and experience in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Perceptions on Mennonite identity around here are complicated. (Paradoxically, they are often not as complicated as they ought to be. Stereotypes abound.) I wholeheartedly acknowledge that my limited perspective on Mennonite identity is incomplete, flawed and likely unhelpful for many.


I don’t think using the term Anabaptist instead of Mennonite is a solution. As I wrote, I don’t think there is a clear problem to be solved. In fact, “Anabaptist” might be more confusing than the term Mennonite. Twenty-five years ago, I told my ex-Christian friend I was joining the Anabaptists. He responded, “Hmm. Tell me more about these anti-Baptists. I might be interested.”


I don’t think the label Mennonite is more problematic than other labels in our 21st century Canadian context, but I don’t find it any less problematic, either.


The quest for identity in 21st century Canada has become increasingly complex. For me, my Mennonite identity is complicated. I realize many first-, second-, third-, fourth-generation Mennonites from various cultures and ethnicities do not feel the same hesitation/conflict/complexity about their Mennonite identity as I do. I appreciate and celebrate this as good news. They are a profound blessing to the Mennonite church.


I’m grateful for the diversity of the Mennonite community and I’m thankful for all Mennonites with whom I’m journeying through life. The real issue for me is the concept of identity in general. I hope this brings a bit more clarity to my perspective.


- Troy Watson

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