A lot of the news stories over the weekend focused on the G20 Summit held on Friday and Saturday in Hamburg, Germany. Just before the summit, however, Donald Trump, the president of the United States, spoke to cheering crowds in Warsaw, Poland. Trump repeatedly referenced Western civilization being built upon a foundation of faith in God, and Judeo-Christian values.
Speaking before crowds at Krasinski Square, a site which commemorates the Warsaw uprising against the Nazis in 1944, Trump repeatedly framed Western civilization as being founded on religion and religious values. He made no mention of democracy at all. Instead, he warned that Western civilization faced threats due to softening religious values and the danger of radical Islam.
Trump said things like, “The people of Poland, the people of America, and the people of Europe still cry out ‘We want God',” and “We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives.”
Trump was a guest of Poland’s current ruling party, the Law and Justice party, which won leadership based on its anti-immigration, and nationalist ideals. They have threatened to ban abortion and in-vitro fertilization, and are very Christian in their rhetoric and values. Last November, Polish President Andrzei Duda was involved in a religious ceremony that officially recognized Jesus Christ as the King of Poland. Seriously, that happened in 2016.
The European Union previously launched an investigation into the staunchly conservative Christian rule of Poland over concerns that the government was consolidating power and censoring the media in ways that contradicted the European Union's ideals.
And it was that same conservative Christian government that invited guest Donald Trump to speak last week. I am sure they were thrilled when Trump rambled on about the religious foundations of Western society.
After his speech, Trump later tweeted: “THE WEST WILL NEVER BE BROKEN. Our values will PREVAIL. Our people will THRIVE and our civilization will TRIUMPH!”
I find it extremely disturbing that Trump could make an entire speech about Western values and the foundation of our civilization without mentioning democracy even once. He said nothing of human rights, of governing with reason and compassion. Not. Once. His speech was instead what you would expect from a medieval, church-backed despot. He spoke like a theocratic king speaking to the peasants of God and country with no real substance.
European Union leaders have begun voicing concern that Trump’s speech could give a boost to other far-right, populist leaders in Europe. One thing is for certain, the 21st century is a time when religion should have no place in politics. It is time for us to leave the Dark Ages behind.