Marty’s photo of the day #4595: My dad, Paul W. Essen, died twelve years ago this week. As anyone who has read my book Hits, Heathens, and Hippos: Stories from an Agent, Activist, and Adventurer knows, my father was a born again Christian to the extreme. In fact, he even believed his god wanted him to call everyone in the Crestview, Florida phone book to say, “Jesus loves you.” So that’s what he did. His telemarketing project took him several years to complete.

Despite our many arguments over religion and politics (he was a staunch Republican), I still miss him. Oh, we still have arguments all the time, but, of course, I have to imagine his side. Mostly when we have our virtual arguments, I wonder if he would have given up his values like the vast majority of Christian-Republicans have done to join the Trump cult.

Even though my dad was Christian to the point of pushing Jesus on me so vigorously when I was a child that it was embarrassing and abusive, he was also a gentle man who didn’t like guns, wasn’t greedy, and didn’t hate people who weren’t white.

My best guess is that my dad would have been disgusted by Donald Trump. He was one of those increasingly rare Christians that are in it because of the loving side of Christianity, not the greedy and vindictive side of Christianity. Isn’t it ironic that Christianity fits both sides? Yes, as has been proven since the day he was invented by humans, the Christian god is flexible and can be exactly like you are!

So, ultimately, I believe that if my dad were still alive he wouldn’t be a Republican voter anymore. And because of the abortion issue, he wouldn’t be able to bring himself to vote Democratic either. Instead, I think he would, for the first time in his life, not vote.

Come next November, the fate of a non-fascist America could very well depend on how many white Christian-Republicans have values like my father had, and step away from the dark side of Christianity.