In early March, several players on the World Series championship team the Washington Nationals—Ryan Zimmerman, Trea Turner, Kurt Suzuki, Patrick Corbin, and Daniel Hudson—played golf with President Trump at his private West Palm Beach resort after a morning workout at the team’s spring training facility. Unsurprisingly, the Nats players were pilloried by the President’s many critics for fraternizing with the nation’s chief executive. One letter to the editor in the Washington Post labeled the decision, and statements by Zimmerman defending their outing, as “galling” and reflective of “uncritical adulation” of a man guilty of “lying, self-aggrandizement, bullying, passing the buck, and denigrating the people and institutions of our government.” Yet the Nats players did not even voice political support for Trump. They just went golfing with him.
Few presidents in American history have elicited as much open mockery and hatred, or as many expletives, as Donald Trump. Perhaps this degree of enmity should be unsurprising, given the decrease in civility and respect for tradition and institutions among our secularized, social media–addicted electorate. Yet, more concernedly, this is true even for many Catholics. Catholic blogger Mark Shea has accused Trump of being a “Cult Leader, the Lie Machine,” and his supporters “enemies to be defeated, not rational actors, not patriots, and not decent people.” Former National Catholic Register blogger Simcha Fisher has frequently employed vulgarity and obscenities in her attacks on Trump and his supporters. Jason Stellman, an author and podcast host (and Catholic convert), recently called Trump a “racist piece of sh*t.”
It would be good to remind ourselves of Christ and the first generation of Christians. Indeed, it was Our Savior who preached “love your enemies” and demonstrated that love, deference, and respect to the Jewish authorities who unjustly maligned Him, and to the Roman authorities who unjustly murdered Him. This paradigm of respect continued in the early Church, even those who converted were persecuted. St. Paul writes: