Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, as a young man, served as a United States Marine in combat in Vietnam where he was shot, recovered from his wounds, and was returned to duty. He later received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. He was nominated as FBI Director by George Bush. The vote was 98-0. He served 12 years as Director of the FBI, the longest term on record, which required special approval. He is a registered Republican. Think what you will about the Vietnam War, the Mueller investigation, and Jesus. But please think. This is not partisan pandering or even patriotic pouting. It is a spiritual and religious meditation on a story with Biblical parallels being played out in the season of Lent by religious leaders and government officials trying to wipe their hands of him.
Religious persons, fundamentalists and progressives included, chant “separation of church and state” and “politics does not belong in the pulpit” while Robert Mueller is being “crucified” by many religious leaders of this country who watch passively and silently as authorities mock, deny, defund, demote and attempt to dismiss him from his position as Special Counsel and investigator because of his uncompromising mission to locate and speak Truth to Power.
As recently as a couple of days ago, religious onlookers, including well-heeled progressives, declare that this is a travesty of justice, but not worthy or appropriate for discussion in religious circles because it is not aligned closely enough with doctrine, scripture or religious jargon to fit comfortably into the institutional church and its Sunday morning musings of Lent.
And yet they cannot or will not recognize that this strikingly similar story to Lent is being played-out on our national stage. For example, the defamation of Mueller, like that of Jesus, partly arises from the fact that he simply cannot be bought, frightened, intimidated or thrown off course in his mission of seeking truth and justice. Many religious leaders, huddled at prayer breakfasts with President Trump, have never been so close to power and it feels good; even if the price of their breakfast with the President is to look away as false accusations and insinuations of disloyalty inch closer and closer toward Mueller. His pursuit of truth, like that of Jesus, became a little too honest and a little too close to the halls of power for comfort. Senators, bureaucrats and ambassadors are casting lots ~ not for Mueller’s cloak ~ but for his job. Mueller’s job performance is being mocked in a public “trial” by his peers and in the court a of public opinion.
For the record, I know that Mueller is not Jesus and Washington is not Jerusalem. But enough parallels exist to warrant a reconsideration of the “hands-off” policy of introducing this or other stories into church for fear of appearing partisan in our politics and in our pulpits.
Wedged in between the time of Jesus and the time of Mueller, much of the Christian church in Germany would not deal directly with growing Nazis influence because it did not fall neatly within the traditional purview of churchly life. The Jewish ghetto in Rome is within ear-shot of the Vatican. They could literally hear what was going on. Many haunting photos still exist of vested clergy standing on church steps during Nazis parades. What was also parading past was the failure of the church to address injustice because it seems too political in nature. History, to exploit an overworked cliché, repeats itself.
It is time to wake up! If this is not Lent-worthy investigation from the pulpit, I don’t know what is! This reenactment of the denigration of decency and the cohabitation of religion and power is brought to you by Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and others who hold the flag in one hand and the Bible in the other as they collude to crucify Robert Mueller, like they would any other person they could not own or control.
Now the investigation of Muller and his investigation of Russia and perhaps those occupying the halls of power in our country have taken a turn. Indictments have been issued. Ut let us not fail to indict ourselves and our elected officials for sinful complicity with silence and abandonment of the principles we preach. It will soon be time for us and them to repent. Mueller’s crusade for truth is reaching the steps of the capitol and the White House. Easter is drawing near. And with it comes the time for churches and people of faith within and outside of the walls of our sanctuaries to stop believing the lie that politics does not belong in church. Jesus’ death was a political execution, orchestrated by a collusion of religion and government.
It is my prayer and my resolve to not stand idly by at the foot of another cross, watching, weeping gently, and feeling bad for the person dying upon it. The time for the church to speak and to act is now. Welcome to Lent.
Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter is the pastor of the Congregational Church of Patchogue on Long Island, New York. He is the author of several books and blogs at dwightleewolter.com