This week’s Torah portion, “Shelach-Lecha” (“Send” or “Send for Yourself”), shares something with Texas Republicans’ 2022 platform. It’s frightening.
Numbers 13 tells of twelve Israelite chieftains sent by Moses to scout out Canaan, the land God promised to Israel. On returning, ten “spies” display a grievous lack of faith. They concede that the land “does indeed flow with milk and honey” but state that it can’t be conquered. Only Joshua and Caleb speak positively. The people side with the unfaithful ten.
God is furious. His promise involves more than blind faith. It’s evidence-based. The Israelites already have witnessed the ten plagues, their release from Egyptian bondage, the parting of the Reed Sea, the giving of the Ten Commandments and more. These same Israelites have a history of disbelieving what they see and hear. In Exodus, they demand that Moses’ brother Aaron make them a visible god. Hello, Golden Calf. A plague strikes them.
Many of the faithless Israelites might have been at home at last weekend’s Texas Republican convention in Houston. Attendees placed faith not in God but in a man.
Planks for the state GOP’s 2022 platform included rejecting the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s election despite what attendees saw and heard (if they tuned in) from the House Select Committee on January 6th.
Note that the committee acknowledged that Donald Trump and his supporters had every right to contest the election results. But Trump failed to win 63 of 64 lawsuits and appeals. (The number is hard to pin down.)
Actually, Trump kind of won two decisions in Pennsylvania—a state he lost. On November 5, 2021, a judge agreed that Republican campaign officials should be allowed to observe vote counting from a distance of six feet. On November 17, the state supreme court overturned that ruling. Trump also protested that first-time Pennsylvania voters were required to confirm their IDs by November 9, rather than November 12. A state judge agreed. Pennsylvania’s supreme court also overturned that decision.
Other Trump attempts to promote the Big Lie failed miserably. Like the Energizer Bunny, Trump kept going. In an infamous telephone call, Trump asked Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State—and Trump supporter—Brad Raffensperger to, “Find me 11,780 votes.” Raffensperger refused. “The numbers are the numbers,” he testified last Tuesday. “The numbers don’t lie.”
The far right—including many evangelical Christians—accepts Trump’s 2020 victory as a matter of faith, evidence be damned. Gabriel Sterling, COO in the office of Georgia’s Secretary of State, testified that he disproved one after another false allegation to a lawyer friend. The friend accepted Sterling’s arguments but declared he still believed Trump won “in my heart.”
Is this how our Constitution functions?
What the future holds for Trump and the Big Lie remains to be seen. As to the Israelites’ past, God forced them to wander in the wilderness for forty years. Of men age 20 and above when the journey began, only Caleb and Joshua lived to enter Canaan.
Overall, faith plays a larger role in Christianity than in Judaism. One hopes that people who place great faith in scripture will heed the story of the spies who disregarded God despite the evidence of His presence.
Given how easily faith can go awry, that likely won’t come to pass.
The post will take two weeks off and return on July 15.
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