Last week, my mom posted an article that I didn’t read at the time. Then, in an email exchange, she sent it directly to me. I don’t typically agree with very many of the things my parents send to me, but I thought I would give this article a shot. I’ve read a lot of things from evangelicals criticizing Trump for various reasons, but I honestly haven’t read much from a pro-Trump evangelical perspective.
Before I started writing this post, I thought I would Google the author of the article. It would be a fallacy to reject the content of the article simply based on the author, but I do find it interesting that one of the websites I frequent has multiple listings for this author:
Full disclosure: Right Wing Watch is a project of People for the American Way, which was started in the early 80s in response to the rise of the Religious Right.
I also find it interesting that this article is on the Charisma News website, which is a publication of Charisma Media. I have yet to come across a single article on this website that I have found to be informative or helpful, but I see a lot of conservatives posting things from it all the time.
I want to write more about this soon, but I think admitting our own biases up front just makes most conversations go a lot better.
Here is the article, if you want to go ahead and read it before you read my comments:
The title alone suggests where this article is heading. Of course, for evangelicals, Trump is not “The One.” No one is The One but Jesus. In the second paragraph, he hints at this, anecdotally pointing out that “most [Christians] seem to think that Trump is either a messenger from the Messiah or from the antichrist, and few are in between.”
I have to stop right here and go on a tangent. In that same paragraph, there is a subtle suggestion that evangelical Christians are the only Christians. Most evangelicals don’t usually specifically point this out, but it is implied in many ways. I spent a lot of time a few years ago researching and writing about what does or does not make someone a “Christian.” It was very frustrating to discover that all kinds of people who claim to be Christians have very different understandings of what that means, and that their own definition is usually the only correct definition. Hmm…
In the third paragraph, the author continues with another not-as-subtle implication:
The following seem to be the main reasons Christians have given for supporting Donald Trump rather than the other more vocal or devoted believers.
Not only has the author already suggested that non-evangelicals are not Christian, but he has also clearly stated that, if Trump is a Christian, he is not a very vocal or devoted one.
Already we have three different tiers of people mentioned in a few short paragraphs:
- Non-evangelicals who claim to be Christian but actually aren’t.
- Less vocal or devoted Christians (like Donald Trump).
- The author and his tribe (i.e. evangelicals, the real Christians).
This is where the source of this article is also relevant. Charisma is a “spirit filled” or “charismatic” organization. I grew up in the charismatic movement, and from what I remember, there were very clearly yet another two tiers within evangelical Christianity – the charismatics and everyone else. From my perspective, if you weren’t “spirit filled” (an evidence of which was “speaking in tongues”) then you weren’t a “full” Christian; you were second class. So, this adds yet another category.
I’m assuming this picking things apart might be a bit annoying. But, as an outsider to all of the categories mentioned above, reading or hearing all of these ridiculous and hateful implications from many conservative Christians is annoying. And, sadly, it’s so prevalent that most don’t even realize that they’re doing it.
Moving on from my tangent… He then lists the reasons he has heard from Christians for why they are supporting Trump:
FACTOR #1: Many no longer trust politicians who claim to be Christians or conservatives. These seem to inevitably change when they get to Washington and fail to keep their promises.
I’m not exactly sure who he could be referring to, but maybe this is something about being a spirit filled evangelical Christian that I’m unaware of. From my perspective, there are a lot of overtly Christian politicians who are actively doing many things to move the country in the wrong direction. I guess there are always more extreme beliefs and ways of doing things, but I really hope I (and my kids) don’t live to see any of that.
I guess this could also be a reference to Obama, who very clearly is a Christian, but who definitely doesn’t fit into the author’s narrow definition of a real Christian.
FACTOR #2: There has been such a vacuum of courage in leadership that it is now esteemed above other virtues.
I guess this could be related to the first point, but I’m not sure exactly what it means. Does “courage in leadership” mean proposing even worse ideas than our current batch of fundamentalist Republicans?
FACTOR #3: Fewer Christians are choosing a candidate based on the candidate’s faith. Rather, they decide based on who they think will do the best job confronting the important issues of the time.
This seems to be true. The fact that Mitt Romney got so far with evangelicals would have been unheard of even ten years ago. Some evangelicals would actually call that a lack of courage, by those who refuse to call Mormonism what it has been called by evangelicals for decades – not Christian, or a cult.
FACTOR #4: The two main issues in this election are security and the economy. Trump is seen as the strongest in both issues.
I’m not sure who decided what “the two main issues” are in this election. The earth seems to be pretty important. Access to healthcare matters a bit. But, I guess others have different priorities.
An irony here is that the translation of the word “security” is actually “irrational fear,” and Trump’s economic plan is almost unanimously seen as detrimental to the country by reputable financial experts and economists. But, I guess that’s “strength”…?
FACTOR #5: Trump’s lack of political correctness (PC) and willingness to say what he thinks have many believing he will resist political pressure and do what is right for the country, instead of for special interests.
(I’m glad he clarified for his readers what the abbreviation for political correctness is.)
I actually can’t think of a single person who doesn’t, at least sometimes, “say what they think.” This is ironically a PC choice of words. Most Trump supporters that I’ve heard from say they support Trump not simply because he says what he thinks, but rather he’s willing to say The Truth (even though most of what Trump has said publicly in the past several months is actually not true). The correlation here is that Trump supporters believe a lot of things that are not true.
One more point here: I’m really confused by the assumption that a billionaire will “do what is right for the country.” Aren’t evangelicals also the people who believe in “total depravity,” that, because of Adam and Eve’s “Fall” into sin, we all naturally do what’s in our own best interest, rather than what’s in the interest of others? Don’t evangelicals identify themselves with a dude who said, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God”?
So, it may be true that Trump would be more likely to do his own thing rather than “for special interests.” But, why should we assume this his own thing is everyone’s own thing? I am a hardcore supporter of getting money’s influence out of politics. But, I fail to see how ones own wealth isn’t also a negative influence.
FACTOR #6: Christians are increasingly disgusted with the Republican establishment
I honestly have no idea what this means. Maybe I’ve been a registered Democrat for too long? The “establishment” in general definitely seems to be a problem that few politicians are willing to confront. But, here is yet another implication, that to be a Christian necessarily has some direct correlation with being a Republican.
FACTOR #7: They think that they have heard from God about Trump.
I really hope there aren’t a lot of these people.
FACTOR #8: The extreme opposition to Trump from all of the bad guys proves he’s God’s choice.
I’m glad he so clearly laid out the persecution complex that seems to be normal among fundamentalists.
I’m not sure who “all of the bad guys” are, though. Like I said earlier, aren’t we all “bad guys”? Isn’t Jesus the only “good guy”?
And I have no idea what “God’s choice” means. Was Hitler God’s choice? Mussolini? Saddam Hussein? Osama bin Laden? Is God’s choice sometimes wrong? I’m confused.
The next paragraph doesn’t even make sense:
When we dig down on these, it is an even more stunning revelation of where the country is and potential changes in direction if these continue to grow.
Sorry, I forgot: editors are part of the religious persecution conspiracy too.
After his reasons that Christians do support Trump, he lays out eight more reasons other Christians don’t:
FACTOR #1: He is obviously not the kind of devout Christian they want to see as a leader, especially after Obama’s relentless assault on Christianity.
I honestly did not know there was an expectation that a “leader” should be a “devout Christian.” It’s almost as if some Christians haven’t actually read the divine U.S. Constitution, and would like there to be a religious test for office. Or, maybe they’ve changed their minds about that.
The second part of this sentence definitely rubbed me the wrong way. I would definitely like to know exactly what “Obama’s relentless assault on Christianity” consists of. I’ve heard this from a lot of conservatives, but I have no idea what it means to them.
What it actually means, from my perspective, is that our country has (thankfully) moved in the right direction on many issues (many of which are supported by a lot of religious people, Christians included), but fundamentalist Christianity is having less and less of an influence over everything. Losing your privilege is definitely scary. But, when that privilege is based on ignorance, fear and hatred, it’s actually a good thing when its power is fading.
Did I mention that Obama is actually a Christian?
FACTOR #2: His behavior, demeanor and language.
Yeah, why should any of those things matter to Christians?
FACTOR #3: His seemingly immature overreaction to criticism and his tendency to try to bully opposition.
I love the addition of the words “seemingly” and “try to” here. Nice.
FACTOR #4: His ambiguous and tepid support for pro-life issues.
Umm, like claiming today that women who have abortions should be “punished”? I guess that’s ambiguous and tepid. Oh, this must mean that he used to be pro choice, but now claims to be super pro life. What was that whole thing earlier about not being easily influenced? Or, maybe, like pretty much every other politician, he’s just using his supporters to get elected? Nah, why would he do that? He’s rich.
FACTOR #5: His lack of understanding of and support for Israel.
Maybe I’m too simple of a person (rather than a Zionist) to really not understand why this would be so important to anyone. But, it does point out a bigger issue, that for some strange reason is not included as a Christian reason to not support Trump: his “lack of understanding of” basically anything necessary to holding one of the most powerful offices in the world.
FACTOR #6: His ambiguous devotion to restoring the authority of the Constitution.
FACTOR #7: His seeming lack of understanding that a true conservative justice devoted to the Constitution, like Scalia, needs to be appointed to the Supreme Court—not someone like his liberal sister that he once implied he would appoint.
You lost me on both of these.
FACTOR #8: Questionable business practices, including several bankruptcies.
Honestly, this seems to be one of the main reasons people claim to support Trump – that he is a good businessman. Sadly, though, he isn’t. To use his one of own favorite words, he’s a loser when it comes to simple business knowledge and multiple failed businesses.
Like the reasons why so many Christians support Trump, there are legitimate reasons why others do not support him. What is not legitimate is for any Christian to question the faith of those who do not see this the same way that they do. Those who do this are still immature. This is why the apostle Paul called the Corinthians “still carnal” (1 Cor. 3)—they were dividing over people for which they had a preference. We should obey the command to “mark those who cause divisions” (see Jude 1)—those who try to create riffs in the body over things like that—and not follow them.
But, it is legitimate to create multiple layers of types of Christians, and maybe Christians, and definitely not Christians? I haven’t read that passage in 1 Corinthians in a long time, and I really don’t want to right now. But, I have a feeling that it has pretty much nothing to do with what this article is discussing. And, according to “spirit filled” Christians like this author, my feelings are divinely inspired.
So, I’ve probably wasted way too many words picking the first part of this article apart. But, it just gets worse. Like, really weird.
Just breathe and then read the next few paragraphs:
How many of us would have chosen the ones Jesus picked to be His leaders? Why didn’t He go to the religious conservatives to find the future leaders of His church? Like it or not, the ones He chose were more like Trump than those we tend to esteem. Even the apostle John, who is now known as the great messenger of love, was so reactionary that he wanted to call down fire from heaven to consume those who disagreed with them. On the night before Jesus was crucified, the disciples argued over who was the greatest. Sounds like Trump to me.
How many of us would continue to support a leader who, after many years of serving and walking with God as a righteous and just leader, had an affair, and even worse, had the husband killed to cover it up? Yet it is said that Israel went astray by following Absalom, who sought to displace David because of his sin.
In contrast, God commended Zadok the priest and gave an eternal blessing over his family for being faithful to David in this situation. The Lord knew when He called David that he would fall like this, but He called him anyway. And how could God love Jacob like He did? Jacob’s name means “usurper” and he was a devious liar and cheat, but “God loved Jacob.”
I find it weird that the author tries to make a direct connection between those Jesus “picked to be his leaders” and a candidate running for an American political office. What am I missing here?
Let’s use just a little bit of logic here: based on the idea that Jesus chose losers to be leaders, should Christians actually have supported Hitler? Or Stalin? I mean, if Christians should support THE WORST POSSIBLE PERSON, then why not try to find murderers and rapists to run for President?
Then, here’s the final statement that I will quote in this response:
This should not excuse character flaws in leaders, but there will only be One perfect leader.
Umm, I think you actually did just excuse a lot of character flaws in leaders. Like, just a few words before this statement.
I did actually read the rest of this article, but I’m tired. I have no idea what this guy is talking about. All I hear is sadness, fear, anger, frustration, blah blah blah. I just can’t keep analyzing nonsense. Feel free to read the rest of the article and tell me if I’m missing something.
Sorry, conservatives who support Trump (and/or Cruz), America is already pretty great. I feel bad for you that you can’t see that. And I feel bad for you that you have such terrible candidates that most of you seem to see Trump as “the best of the worst.”
Can things get better? Yes. Because of Trump? We have no good reason to think so. And we have a lot of good reasons to think he would make things worse.
I need a beer.