FRANK SCHAEFFER (former Evangelical Christian): How did your trip go? What were you doing?
LUKE MOON (Evangelical Christian): My trip was great. We were trying to have a village rebuilt that would be a hub for Aramaic language and culture in Northern Israel.
Frank: Interesting. Were you here for the election?
Luke: Literally flying through the air. I learned that Trump won when we landed. I had given him a 40% chance of winning. I was a bit surprised though.
Frank: I was worried he’d win, said he would not. I got that wrong. How do you think the fact that 81% of white evangelicals voted for Trump will change evangelicals self-image and the way the rest of the country looks at them… or should I say you? And BTW I do NOT want to go after you on this…
Luke: I think you are right that it will certainly impact how the nation views white Evangelicals. Actually, it will impact how the non-Christian, non-religious view Christians in general. I don’t think most people are that aware of the distinctive differences. I’m happy to discuss the impact of the election on Evangelicals. I think it’s a relevant topic.
Frank: I also think that it will impact the way Hispanic evangelicals and black and other evangelicals view the white voters. Your thoughts on all this? And also you know back in my day as an evangelical people within the community said we were way too political with the abortion issue… I can hardly imagine what the view would be now… for instance Billy Graham told my dad back in the early 1980s that he could never take a stand on opposing abortion and Roe v. Wade because it would be “too divisive” and hurt his ability to “preach the gospel… ”
Mostly I’m interested in how white evangelicals will view themselves. It seems to me they have been sure they were victims… now they own the country… right?
Luke: I think its a mixed bag on how minorities will view white Evangelicals. Right now there seems to be a lot of folks on the Left and Christian Left that seem to be stoking fear into the minority community. I’m not sure to what end, but it seems to me that it is not helpful.
To your specific question, there has been an internal conversation leading up to the election. The #NeverTrump-ers like Dr. Russell Moore and Mark Tooley vs the Trump supporters like Falwell and Graham. Moore and Tooley seem to see themselves as the champions of the future Christian movement. They have the right tone to reach millennials. The Falwell and Graham camp sees a church under attack and wants to hold ground.
Frank: This will surprise you maybe, but I do think evangelicals have been under attack… I understand. I also think that the Democratic Party has been ill served by identity politics. I think that ironically evangelicals have now bought into the same mistake. They have discovered allies in the white supremacist movement. I think this is a heavy price to pay and will in the end accelerate the departure from religion by young people. I also think that unlike W Bush who was an actual evangelical and sincerely so (my family knew the Bush family), of course Trump will disappoint when it comes to evangelicals. I’m not talking about personal behavior but policy. For instance he’ll wink at Putin working with the Russian Orthodox leaders to further close down all American evangelical missionary efforts in Russia as well as NGOs like World Vision… that’s a side point… Mainly, how do you think the victimology on “religious liberty” etc., will change?
The pivot by rising leaders will be towards a more Anabaptist position politically. I’ve been going to Evangelical churches in DC and NY and in both instances they tend to avoid political conversations all together.
Frank: I’m wondering if all this has made you look at your own community in some new way. If 8 out of 10 white evangelicals voted for Trump, does that shake anything in you personally?
Luke: Not really. I understood why people chose to vote for Trump and why people chose to vote for Clinton or McMullin or someone else. I am among those who voted for Trump. I started out a #NeverTrump, but I could not stand what I saw as arrogance coming from other #NeverTrump people. It was my own people that drove me to Trump. I voted for Trump because I really did not want Hillary to win. It was a defensive vote. I red vote in a sea of NY blue. I have had to vote defensively quite often. When I was 18, I voted for the Green Party in Seattle because I didn’t want to vote for the Democrat.
Frank: I don’t blame you or hate you… but I do think you voted for the worst person who… oh fuck this… you know what I am going to say already and so forth. I voted for Hillary and as one of Huffington Post’s first bloggers I must have slammed her dozens of times back when she was running against (then) Senator Obama. The only good part of this election is that at least there was some sort of back handed stand against dynasty. That’s slim comfort though since I think this is way past politics. Trump is not a very bright or nice man. Bad combination… We have a problem Houston!
Take the last word… we’re about there…
Luke: I don’t know how this will play out, but for me this was never racial or sexist or…. I have spent my life fighting against injustice against the poor and marginalized. The churches I have been part of are also committed to the same things. It might surprise you and our readers, but many people who voted for Trump will also fill the Salvation Army red buckets, they will give to the clothing and food drives, they will give money, time, and effort to help those in their community who struggle to make ends meet. They are not bigots, racists, etc. They are good people who chose between two flawed candidates. They chose Trump over Clinton. They will enjoy the benefits and suffer the consequences of their vote….we all will.
Schaeffer & Moon is written on the fly in a real-time chat room format and lightly proofed by Patheos editors.