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Pursuing ‘A Radical Faith’ in the Trump Era


Pursuing ‘A Radical Faith’ in the Trump Era

Joseph Nevins

In its article on the new Trump initiative to arrest parents suspected of having arranged to bring their children to the United States with the help of smugglers, The New York Times reported on José, a man from El Salvador. More than 10 years ago, he and his wife migrated to the United States, leaving their young son Henry in the care of relatives. When Henry became a teenager, local gang members began threatening him for his refusal to join them.


It is evidently hard for some people to differentiate between religious beliefs, beyond lumping everyone of faith together and atheists together. However the radical faith being spoken of in this article has been most responsible for acts of courage and compassion in the face of torture and death than many progressives choose to acknowledge. It is easy to be dismissive citing Sky Fairies and other insulting comments but how do you dismiss a person whose faith placed her in danger for 20 years? This is not Sunday School formulas and intransigence about whether the Bible is inerrant. This is about a faith that produces great courage amid truly dangerous circumstances.

That same radical faith that is so different from the fascistic type of faiths (those demanding uncritical obedience and intolerance) that are political but here at home where it is safe! This article is about a radical way of thought most progressives would understand and agree with. Many progressives should respect one of their own freedoms - the freedom of religion! One thing for sure, they should respect the deep courage that people like these nuns show the world.

Theirs is a radical faith. Such faith is tolerant and has been very instrumental in progressive politics. Not all people of faith think cavemen rode atop dinosaurs 6,000 years ago. Some progressives should remember people like these nuns and keep their courageous example in mind when they talk about ( all ) religious beliefs. Some religious beliefs are even more radical than theirs are!


Very well put, Wereflea! I always admired and respected the “liberation theology” movements that were most active, as I remember, in the period 1967-1983. It seemed to me, and still does, that they were putting the admonitions and instructions of Christ to real-life practical use.


That they were and still are.


El Salvador is 99% Catholic, how does that equate to religious tolerance or religious freedom?


America elected Trump, does that then mean that all Americans support him? I don’t see the point in arguing such a broad brush characterization. Archbishop Romero was killed in church by soldiers ( death squads) who were likely raised catholic. ) They did not have faith, Romero did, so what are you talking about?

Are you saying that you feel that they represent '‘faith’ because it is a catholic country? As opposed to the actual faith, the courageous radical faith as was shown shown by Archbishop Romero or the nuns in resisting the murderous right wing wealthy elites?

That is like saying that just because you are American that you agree with Trump.


God created evolution. He did a pretty good job too (with the exception of Republicans)!


99% Catholic, fern?

As I thought that was unreal, I checked Religion in El Salvador, with these figures: 47% Catholic, 33% Protestant, 17% No religion, and 3% Other ( Buddhist, Jewish, Muslin, Mormon, et al). While the figures are from Wikipedia, I believe they represent accurately the religious denominations in El Salvador.


“The HUMAN FAMILY will always Search and Yearn for Liberation.”
Maura Clarke

“…and No Religion, too.”

Made in Heaven


Considering how many heads have been lopped off in the name of Christ and Allah, and how much money political parties are addicted to, life would be better for the 99% worldwide if organized religion and political parties were outlawed.


Why is it that so many progressives of the atheist religion, fail to honor the deep social justice convictions and utter courage of people who have been murdered by right wing forces just because these people were religious.

Meanwhile with determined hypocrisy they perform a kind of mental gymnastics that removes all meaning from the word Reverend that exists in front of MLK’s name. Like the word reverend is somehow only his first name and not a definition of his religious status!

Great numbers of religious folks from radical Catholics to anti-war Quakers have created history for progressive social justice and anti-war causes! Maybe at some point those insulting atheists to whom an Archbishop Romero is the same as a Pat Robertson might realize that their hypocrisy about the courage of people who have a radical faith places them closer to the pat robertsons of this world than it does the activist radicals of faith like those heroically brave and dedicated nuns serving the poor no matter what despite the danger which they were fully aware of.

People who show respect for the courage shown by those with a radical faith in the face of danger, might ask these Old Timey Atheists just what courageous acts of liberation do they offer the world that they can show such disrespect for those who truly deserve only honor for the lives of service their hearts and souls demanded of them because of their faith?


I guess statistics vary, I don’t recall the source of that figure because it was an unrelated article. Here are the statistics from the church at 76%. It is a changing variable I’m sure.



I was asking a question? Thank you for your response. You mention a level of religious intolerance in the progressive community I thought I would ask how that squares with tolerance and diversity in the context you site.

I didn’t say any of that, I would say it doesn’t change the fact that Trump is the president.


I do not understand your question then. You seem to be suggesting that any religion is the same as all religion? Is that right?

Would you say that when the radical priest Rev. Phillip Berrigan married the radical nun Sr. Elizabeth McCallister and they raised a family together while fighting (and going to prison for acts of civil disobedience) for social justice that their radical faith was the same as the intolerance of the conservative bishops who persecuted them? Or how Elizabeth McCallister advocated a non sexist reading of the Bible and used the feminine “She” when referring to God?

I apologize for my non understanding what you ask? If you care to rephrase your question, I will do my best to answer! Btw… compare Pope Francis to other popes! They are not all cut from the same cloth although they do wear the same habit! Lol.

Most progressives of faith grow tired of others who take every opportunity to harass them because they express faith. I lose respect for those who reject freedom of religion claiming that any religion is the same as the right wing evangelicals and so forth. Progressives of faith are the most tolerant people. We respect others beliefs. We believe in a women’s right to choose as much as in an Earth billions of years old! We do not feel the Bible is inerrant, it was written thousands of years ago and allows slavery. Not a progressive talking point that! Lol.

Sorry if I didn’t get your question


Being concerned about the ill effects of organized religion is NOT the same as atheism.

While everybody should have the freedom to pursue their beliefs without persecution, enabling political clout and tax advantages for organized religions is not needed to secure that freedom.


Your point of a seemingly monolithic / homogenous faith affecting this writhing and suffering small nation is understood. I wrestle with the faith dimension too, as roughly 80% of this country is Catholic / Christian.

In the Provincia De Nuestro Señor Jesus Christo El Salvador Del Mundo, why is there so much poverty and brutality?

Joseph Nevins’ article, for a primer, is an expert commentary on the culture, history and politics (local and global) of the past 40 years, economic classes, and yes, religious influence on the inequality and struggle of the poor who are caught between the US and El Salvador.


Btw… Jesus himself did not believe that the Bible was inerrant.

The Bible says ‘eye for an eye’ which everybody knows. But Jesus said specically “You have been taught eye for an eye but I tell you do not do this but turn the other cheek instead” Right there, Jesus specifically contradicted ‘the inerrancy of the bible’.

Lol. Jesus had a radical faith! “Blessed are the peacemakers” - anti-war

“Feed the hungry, clothe the naked” - Social Justice

“Easier for a rich man to fit through the eye of a needle than to enter the kingdom of God” - anti oligarchy

A radical faith!


Discussion of disconnects between organized religion and what we know about JC and other spiritual leaders enable me to rest my case.


I think my question is more about the nature of intolerance in or out of a religious community. I think we all struggle with that at one time or another. Acts of radical faith as seen from my perspective is stepping outside normally held beliefs or something close to that. Anyway, no apology is needed here.

I can’t really comment on those events. There will always be questioning on this subject which is a good thing, it doesn’t mean that each person is representative of an action, I think that was your point and I agree.


Why aren’t people all saints? Is that what you struggle with? Why do we have the poor?

Do you think everyone goes to church on Sunday in El Salvador? It is a rhetorical question.