Blowback for evangelical leaders who oppose Trump

Blowback for evangelical leaders who oppose Trump October 24, 2016

White evangelicals have been conditioned to vote Republican as a matter of course for 35 years. For many, it is practically a matter of Christian duty. They have seldom been encouraged to think critically about the spiritual drawbacks to supporting the GOP because they  have supposed that the Democrats must be stopped at all costs.

That’s why it’s so significant that a number of white evangelical leaders have stood there and said “Never Trump.”

To the rest of the nation, this seems like an entirely laudable and sensible stance, for there is no compelling argument that Donald John Trump credibly represents Christian thinking on anything. And, to the degree that we have criticized evangelicals for their uncritical pro-Republican politicking, many of us are impressed by the integrity #NeverTrump evangelicals have shown this cycle.

But not everyone is impressed.

We know that the old Religious Right has fallen in line behind Trump, dutifully promoting the Republican Party no matter how unchristian its standard bearer.

Plenty of other evangelicals are ready to vote for Trump, whether reluctantly or enthusiastically.

The Louisville Courier-Journal published an op-ed this morning by Jack L. Richardson, IV, an alumnus and supporter of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Richardson, a Louisville attorney, laid out a modest conservative evangelical case for Trump and, significantly, a case against evangelical leaders like SBTS president Albert Mohler and ERLC president Russell Moore opposing the Republican nominee on Christian-ethical grounds.

Richardson:

Mohler’s and Moore’s “Never Trump” position I find borne of false piety and self-righteousness. In this election, the premise is not based upon the greater righteousness or sinlessness of one candidate over another. The correct premise is comparing the policies of each candidate and how that will impact the nation.
Trump was not my choice, but he is now.

I’ll share some thoughts later about how much of Richardson’s argument is sensible. A lot of it is pretty nutty. But for now, read it closely and think about what the white evangelical divide over Trump portends both before and after Nov. 8.

[UPDATE: Here I address Richardson’s critiques line by line.]

Image credit: Pixabay
Image credit: Pixabay

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