Jesus Wept: How Can You Call Yourself A Christian If You Voted For Donald Trump? NOLA.com You are signed in as Edit Public Profile Sign Out The Times-Picayune Newsletters RSS Feeds Mobile Apps >Don't call me 'Christian' any longer | Opinion Updated November 17, 2017 at 7:30 AM; Posted November 17, 2017 at 7:29 AM Judge Roy Moore talks with his supporters about the second amendment during a "Faith and Family Rally" in Florence, Alabama, at Shoals Christian School on Set. 17, 2017.(Photo by Nathan Morgan for The Washington Post) By Robert Mann, Columnist When an angry reader emailed recently to ask how I justified calling myself a Christian, given my beliefs on social issues like marriage equality, I told him my relationship with God was none of his business. My response surely didn't satisfy him. And I know it didn't satisfy me. I'm not spoiling for theological fights with readers about why I believe God does not condemn the innate sexual orientation of those he creates, but the inquiry was fair. I sometimes discuss my faith in this space and when readers question me about it, they deserve better than, "Butt out." I offer apologies to my correspondent. I doubt he will like my extended answer, but here it is: I'm considering dropping the moniker, Christian. The racists, homophobes and Islamophobes in these parts have so tarnished it that many of us now need better words to characterize our faith. A few years ago, I wrote a column for an online faith publication, in which I mused about adopting new terminology: "Pat Robertson, Phil Robertson, Tony Perkins, the Westboro Baptist Church, the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition. Think about the image of Christianity that these people and organizations -- and dozens more like them -- portray to the world. The un-churched who watch these people see Christianity as grim, unwelcoming, judgmental, joyless and self-righteous. Just what part of their hell-fire-and-brimstone sermons would be remotely attractive to a person tormented, for example, by alcoholism?" I decided then to keep "Christian," writing, "The public's view of Christians will change when our Christ-inspired love for others overpowers and drowns out the hurtful words and actions of Robertson (Phil and Pat) and those like them. Changing our name won't rehabilitate the term. Changing our actions will." I wrote that, however, long before white Evangelical Christians voted overwhelmingly to elect Donald Trump -- a serial liar, sexual abuser, racist and Islamophobe -- as president. That was also before Evangelicals in Alabama and elsewhere rallied to defend Republican U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore, a racist and homophobic former state judge accused of molesting at least two teenagers when he was in his early 30s. It's not only that many so-called Christians accept Moore's dubious denials over the testimony of these women. Just as troubling is that they worship Moore, unconcerned about whether he's a pedophile because, you know, any Democrat is worse than a child molester. If you need any evidence about the moral and spiritual bankruptcy of the pretenders who have hijacked the Christian faith, consider that almost 40 percent of self-professed Evangelicals in Alabama say charges of pedophilia make them more, not less, likely to support Moore. What I saw and heard over the past week on TV, social media and elsewhere has settled the matter for me. So, here's where I stand: If you think pedophilia is preferable to being a Democrat, then you and I do not belong to the same faith. If racism and homophobia aren't deal breakers for you, we worship different Gods. Call yourself whatever you like but don't include me in your tribe (or cult). I'd ask you to relinquish the term "Christian" so disciples of Jesus could have it, but I know that's fruitless. Recently, I posed a question on Facebook: "If you call yourself a Christian, what exactly does that mean?" Friends and others flooded me with passionate, thoughtful responses. What struck me was how so many responded with statements, not about what they believe, but how their faith prompts them to behave. One said: "For me it means I try my best to follow Jesus' example: that no matter your race, creed, religion I will strive to treat you with love and respect, I will offer you a place at my table, a safe harbor to rest and abide and be humbly thankful when you accept. [I] strive to be as kind as The Good Samaritan." Another said: "Put simply, being a Christian means you show the love of Jesus to your neighbors. All neighbors, all the time." Another: "For me it means this: 'Love God and love your neighbor -- here is the Law and the Prophets.' Advocate for fairness and justice, affirm life and love, seek the common good." God bless these people and others who understand that the most important part of Christianity is how it demands love and respect for all persons, regardless of their faith, race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. That's the faith I embrace and with which I struggle. For now, I'll not label my faith. Instead, when asked what I am, I'll describe how my beliefs challenge me to act. I still love the term "Christian" and want to use it. But throughout the South and other parts of our land, too many people who have nothing to do with Jesus and his way of living have stolen and perverted the term. Until they give it up -- and they will eventually -- I'll just say, "I'm a flawed follower of Jesus." Robert Mann, an author and former U.S. Senate and gubernatorial staffer, holds the Manship Chair in Journalism at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. Read more from him at his blog, >Something Like the Truth. Follow him on Twitter >@RTMannJr or email him at >[email protected].