Have Evangelicals Had Enough Yet?

Have Evangelicals Had Enough Yet? October 31, 2018

By T

Following the most recent bomb attempts on several of the President’s critics, President Trump said several things that are typical for presidents during times like this of national tragedy caused by horrible violence. He called for unity and civility, though he was, within days of the bombs being intercepted, back to calling the media the enemy of the people. But at a rally following the bomb attacks, he made an equally telling statement, and it made me wonder about the path that the President’s phenomenal support from white Evangelicals will take. Here was the statement during a rally for a mid-term election:

“You see how nice I’m being?  . . . Have you ever seen this?”

Of course, the bomb attempts were then followed, tragically, by other devastating hate crimes in Pittsburgh and Kentucky. Let me be clear. I don’t think the President is antisemitic. I don’t think he intended the violence of Charlottesville, or the recent, failed, bombs sent to his critics, or the shootings by the white supremacist in Kentucky, or the attack on the synagogue in Pittsburgh. What he has done, and continues to do, and absolutely intends, is to inflame and exploit common cultural fear, resentment and anger among whites in the US by pointing toward vulnerable outsiders as scapegoats. As he pointed out his own (brief) period of what he called being “nice,” I’m glad he asked his supporters, “Have you ever seen this?” Of course, he meant if we had seen such civility from him, and the rhetorical answer was, of course, “No.” or “Not as a rule” and I was reminded again how white Evangelicals are notorious for supporting a man who recognizes that he is notorious for stoking anger with personal attacks, among other problematic practices. And it is on this very feature in which his campaign and presidency parts from others. He routinely employs what is known as “demagoguery” which isn’t new, though none have used it as their political mainstay within the US Presidency until Trump. Demagoguery is, simply, “a manipulative approach — often associated with dictators and sleazy politicians — that appeals to the worst nature of people. Demagoguery isn’t based on reason, issues, and doing the right thing; it’s based on stirring up fear and hatred to control people. For example, a politician who stirs up a fear of immigrants to distract from other issues is using demagoguery.” – Vocabulary.com. He does campaigning, both before and after taking office, by insults, by smears, and by appealing to and exploiting cultural fears and prejudices, in his case, of whites. He does not generally call us toward our highest and best. Rather he appeals to and excites the fear of outsiders that is among the lowest common denominators of human kind.

From VP Mike Pence, prior to the Pittsburgh shooting: “What the president of Honduras told me is that the caravan was organized by leftist organizations, political activists within Honduras, and he said it was being funded by outside groups, and even from Venezuela. So the American people, I think, see through this – they understand this is not a spontaneous caravan of vulnerable people.”

Pence makes it clear that this caravan is a political stunt or plot, perhaps even a Trojan horse assembled by hostile foreign powers. Don’t be fooled by the children, the abject poverty, the human suffering or need, argues Pence. This caravan (which is about a thousand miles away, moving as fast as people with small children can walk), according to the Trump administration “is not a spontaneous caravan of vulnerable people.” So, what is it?

From Trump, prior to the Pittsburgh shooting: “the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy.” and “if take your cameras and search … you’re gonna find MS-13, you’re gonna find Middle Eastern, you’re gonna find everything.”

The Administration has alerted our military to respond to this “National Emergy.” And that’s because “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in.” If we looked closely, we’d “find MS-13,” “Middle Eastern . . . everything.” So what is the proof of these most serious of allegations? Why should we regard this group of what seem to be the poorest of the poor with fear as as a threat rather than with common human decency and concern? When pointedly asked for the evidence of the Administration’s claims of terrorists among this caravan, Trump said: “There is no proof of anything. There’s no proof of anything.” Yet he goes out and leads political rallies, saying that the Democrats are behind this caravan, organizing it, and that this group includes terrorists and the worst of criminals.

And it is to this “threat” which lacks any evidence that, it appears from early reports of the shooter’s online interactions, the Pittsburgh shooter was motivated to act against by way of attacking members of a local synagogue, whom he believed to be at least allied with these migrants / refugees / invaders.

And when it comes to the pipe bombs sent to several of Trump’s more notable critics and political foils, Trump doesn’t talk about several of these these folks, even after the bomb attempts (!), as mere opponents, but as criminals, and as the truest enemies of the American people. They aren’t political opponents, they are, in Trump’s words, the enemies of the people of the US–like MS-13, and the terrorists that are on the very slow march toward Texas, hiding among desperate people seeking refuge.

Some folks who support Trump, even in the Church, have embraced and feel liberated by his rhetoric. But more have said that they don’t like all about him, but wanted, out of desperation, someone to be the wrecking ball in D.C. that he tends to be. They resonated with his anger, even if they thought he crossed the line sometimes. Others didn’t like him much at all but preferred him to Clinton and needed more conservative Supreme Court picks. And there are many more stories for Trump support, especially among white evangelicals.

But to all such folks, especially my brothers and sisters in Christ, I have a simple question, “Is it enough yet?”

Do we have enough conservative judges now to offset the constant scapegoating of everyone who tries to come here to flee poverty and/or violence? Have we had enough venting of our grievances, both real and imagined? Have we had enough insults, smears, and inciting of fears of those different from us? No wall can stop his fans from sending pipe bombs to folks he calls enemies of our nation. Praising a Congressman and actual violent criminal for his crime of physically attacking a reporter won’t lead to less physical attacks on the press. Retweeting all kinds of false statistics and other lies about black on white crime, or praising stop and frisk and rough treatment by police won’t encourage justice or better race relations.  Repeating and repeating conspiracy theories and other lies won’t increase the respect for the truth.  Doing politics and even foreign affairs with name-calling won’t increase civility. Whipping up fear against people seeking refuge instead of urging compassion won’t make our nation, or others, safer, or “great.” Please don’t bother telling me all the nonsense that somebody on the left does too. Whoever they are, they’re not the President; they don’t speak for the nation as part of their job. No President in my lifetime has praised torture, until now. No President in my lifetime has praised a criminal assault on a reporter, until now. No president in my lifetime has invented a “national emergency” out of thousands of the poorest of the poor from our southern neighbors, hundreds of miles away, traveling on foot, by emphasizing, without any proof (!), that they contain the most brutal of criminals and terrorists, and in so doing gave or at least agreed with a conspiratorial motive for a madman’s murderous attack on a religious community who dared support the plight of such desperate people seeking refuge and asylum.

He’s going to keep lying repeatedly each week or even day. He’s going to make all kinds of personal and false attacks against individuals and whole groups of people and even nations, which will play well at his rallies–lots of laughter and applause!–and sow deeper resentments and fears in others. He may even continue to praise dictators, torture and other violence, whether against reporters, critics or others. He will be vengeful as he admits getting revenge is both necessary to his success and one of the great pleasures of life. He will scapegoat outsiders, immigrants and the most vulnerable people in the greatest need in the world for political gain. His love of money and the things of the world will continue to be central to who he is, and he will insist that he has done nothing wrong and is a victim all the while. His brief, teleprompter-led moments of resisting demagoguery, what he calls being “nice,” will also come from time to time, when his advisors manage to convince him he must, at least for a speech or two, deviate from his staple practices. And we can all think back to the few other times he did so, perhaps even at his suggestion: “You see how nice I’m being? Have you ever seen this?” Then he’ll go back to demagoguery.

What I wonder is when the white evangelicals will no longer lead the way with the support of it all. How long are we going to let his mockery of others make a mockery of our faith with our support and defense of this man? Will the perceived gains ever start to taste like gravel? Do we want more anger, fear, demagoguery, division, more xenophobia in the US and the Church? With these latest reminders of how much hate is waiting in our nation to ignite into murder, have we had enough demagoguery yet, or do we want more?


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  • Rick

    “Tomorrow the migrants — according to Fox News reporting — are more than two months away if any of them actually come here. But tomorrow is one week before the mid-term election, which is what all of this is about,” said Smith in a calming southern monotone. “There is no invasion. No one is coming to get you. There is nothing at all to worry about.”- The Wrap, on Shep Smith’s comments.

    https://www.thewrap.com/shepard-smith-contradicts-his-network-on-migrant-caravan-there-is-no-invasion/

  • Ron Fay

    I will respect this as soon as I see the exact same type of post calling out the media and the Evangelicals who support the left who explicitly call for violence against the right. Trump has never called for violence though using violent rhetoric whereas many on the left have endorsed violence. Both are vile. Attacking the President these days is easy, you are just one among a throng. Calling for civility from all sides, that would be a rare thing to do.

  • Alan K

    This post most certainly was civil. And it was not addressing “right” instead of “left”. Rather it was addressing where the power sits, which is exactly what the church is called to do in every age. Should every politician be held to account? Of course. Should the greatest focus be on the location of the most authority? Absolutely. Every president is entrusted with the greatest power and thus should face the highest scrutiny.

  • jeffcook

    “What he has done, and continues to do, and absolutely intends, is to inflame and exploit common cultural fear, resentment and anger among whites in the US by pointing toward vulnerable outsiders as scapegoats. ”

  • Ron, I will gladly say that those who call for violence, no matter the party, should be ashamed and shamed, and so should any Evangelical who laughs or cheers along. I don’t support pols who praise violence or who scapegoat the poorest of the poor with violence, which is to invite hostility toward them.

    That said, a few things. First, on this: “Trump has never called for violence using violent rhetoric.” [EDIT: the correct quote is “Trump has never called for violence though using violent rhetoric.”]

    – “You know, part of the problem and part of the reason it takes so long [to remove protesters] is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore, right?”
    – “The audience hit back. That’s what we need a little bit more of.” (When asked about a black protester who was sucker-punched by a Trump supporter. There was no evidence of any first strike by the man who was hit. In fact, the Trump supporter was charged with assault and disorderly conduct.)
    – “They used to treat (protesters) very, very rough, and when they protested once, they would not do it again so easily,” he said, before lamenting “we’ve become weak.”
    – Speaking of the GOP Congressman who criminally assaulted a reporter, and initially lied about it before pleading guilty: ““any guy who can do a body slam, he is my type!”

    I could go on to talk about how Trump has praised torture, proposed using the military to target family members of foreign fighters, praised dictators for being tough praised their murderous rise to power as worthy of respect.

    But it is sad to see someone refuse to deal with a very real problem with our tribe of evangelicals, and with the President of the US, with a false denial and whataboutism.

  • Mr. Hawk

    Not a Trump voter, but a purely political observation is that the Democrats’ hard move to the left certainly offers no enticement to those disaffected evangelicals who potentially have indeed “had enough”.

  • Chad V

    Not to sound disrespectful, but I can’t help but believe that the persistent drum beat of anger against President Trump on this site, much of it directed at white evangelicals, is anything but helpful. I am not a Trump supporter and I agree with many of the concerns addressed in this piece as would all of my white evangelical friends. Yes, as Christians we have an obligation to speak with a prophetic voice of righteousness and justice to our world system. But we should do so with respect for those whom God has raised up over us, we should do so in peace toward one another as much as is within us, and above all we should do so with a joyful hope in Him who holds the heart of the king in his hand. Indeed, the One who upholds all things by the word of his power.

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but pieces like this seem full of fear and anger. It shouldn’t be this way. Seems to me that one’s opposition to President Trump would be better expressed at the ballot box, by letters to the President and congressional representatives, and patient prayer. But the singling out of one demographic of evangelical? I ask, how is this helping? Peace.

  • Darren Jones

    I too am not a Trump voter (I went 3rd party), and I definitely agree with Mr. Hawk’s statement. I’m a conservative-leaning centrist politically, and it’s becoming harder and harder to find anyone to vote for.

  • Chad,

    I call out Evangelicals here because that’s my tribe and when I see not only that white evangelicals are overwhelming supporters of this President, but also that church attendance, by one poll at least, results in greater not lesser support for this President, I am concerned, and I’m concerned to the point of speaking up. I’m glad that you and all your white evangelical friends agree with many of the concerns of this piece. But that leads us to an interesting quandry. Either your friends are statistical oddity, or someone is not being honest. I’m speaking to Evangelicals because I know and love Evangelicals.

    If you feel I’ve been disrespectful or uncivil, please point it out specifically. I am not a litigator by trade, but am an attorney and church planter, and I seek to be direct and clear in my speaking and writing without descending into inappropriate language or snark. If I’ve missed the mark, I’m open to it being pointed out. But be aware I don’t equate civility and being appropriate with never offending anyone or saying something that people get angry about. Both lines of my work require that some things be said even if others get angry. But this post is about how long “we” (not “they”) will support this kind of behavior.

    And I’m all for expressing one’s views at the ballot box, but not only there. This blog of Scot’s has long been a venue for people, especially Christians and Evangelicals, to deal with issues that affect Christian character and witness. Current events of late bring both to the forefront. I don’t see how we can have national tragedies like we’ve had this last week, in which a killer agreed with a sitting President’s (mis)characterization of a group of refugees as “invaders,” and with that characterization of migrants being typical of this President, who enjoys staggering and very public Evangelical support, and not deal with the elephant in the room. Evangelicals are supporting the most infamous demagogue President of the United States of the last hundred years or more. Not only is it, in my view, right to ask “how long?” but I think it would be wrong not to ask, especially in light of recent events in which the demagoguery of the President turned up as shared by one failed and one successful mass-murderer. Do we want more demagoguery in such a time? Do we want to further associate our tribe and our Lord with such practice?

  • Ted M. Gossard

    Sad. I don’t understand it. Like everything else, it’s complex. I know people quite intelligent and loving, and not given to political strife, who still support Trump. I am at a complete loss. I give up myself. At the same time, I think we’re too bought into (and sold) the system somehow. Maybe we can be engaged somewhat, but it should always be at arm’s length, with God’s kingdom and grace in Jesus at the forefront. Maybe then we could engage both sides with the criticism needed, as well as proper input, even encouragement when appropriate.

  • Rick

    “But the singling out of one demographic of evangelical?”

    “White evangelical Protestants, who constituted one out of every five voters, consistently have been among the strongest supporters of Republican candidates and supported Trump by a 77% to 16% margin.”- http://www.people-press.org/2018/08/09/an-examination-of-the-2016-electorate-based-on-validated-voters/

    That is a huge demographic, and I don’t know about you, but I am regularly hearing from non-evangelicals questioning why evangelicals do not speak out more. Why do evangelicals overwhelmingly support him, no matter what? Why do they see it as either/or?

  • Ron Fay

    Well, you misquoted me, so there is that, which is sad since my post is directly above.
    Trump uses violent rhetoric but does not engage in violence. He has never encouraged his followers to use violence. He has encouraged the military and police to use violence since that is in fact their job.
    The left has actively encouraged violence from their followers.
    Do you see the difference yet? Or do you plan on misquoting me again?

  • Ron Fay

    I agree that presidents deserve the highest scrutiny, but I do believe that in this technology driven day and age, the media holds more power. What they choose to cover and how they slant it (either way) often controls the narrative. Some media in the Trump age care more about being part of the story or driving it than actual reporting.
    That said, do not misconstrue me as supporting Trump, but do construe me as questioning how Scot’s blog has often become a place for bashing right leaning Evangelicals only and leaving those who lean the other direction nice and comfortable. I have mentioned this to him before. Instead of being a prophetic voice calling for correction, it has become a form of shaming and, to a much lesser degree, self congratulations.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    ‘Not a Trump voter, but a purely political observation is that the
    Democrats’ hard move to the left certainly offers no enticement to those
    disaffected evangelicals who potentially have indeed “had enough”.’

    After this president’s relentlessly inhumane and destructive behavior, Evangelicals who still need to be enticed to oppose him should stay in the kettle they’re cooking in. Don’t do the rest of us any favors.

  • Ron Fay

    The question is, then, what do we do? I will never vote for Trump, I find him morally repugnant as a person. I thought Obama was a much better man. However, I could not vote for him either due to his stances on the issues. Are Christians who are morally conservative doomed to vote third party, if at all?

  • I’ll gladly change the quote; I missed the “though.” That said, the few quotes above from Trump make it clear he made it clear that he wanted his audience to hit back, he praised a Congressman for bodyslamming a reporter. Your claim that “he has never encouraged his followers to use violence” is flatly false, and the distinction in your quote, with the “though” similarly proves false, though I will fix it to keep your statement intact.

    And use of violence, in the way that he has encouraged it for the military and the police, is not, in fact, their job. To the contrary, he has proposed forms of violence for both that are illegal for the police, and war-crimes for the military. That is the definition of the opposite of their jobs.

    Ron, you are imitating and defending behavior that deserves neither.

  • Ron Fay

    How am I imitating it?

  • By denying that which is plainly provable as true. Trump does this so often that it is beyond my counting, but it is not worthy of emulation; it is worthy of avoidance and calling out as unacceptable.

  • That would be a better outcome for our witness than to have such high numbers of support from our white brethren, and so many leaders publicly defend him, when he continues to act like this.

  • Ron Fay

    I agree that calling out for violence is unacceptable and I had not seen these quotes before. I agree with you. What is your suggested course of action? How do we as Evangelicals move forward? I cannot vote for someone who believes in killing babies, and I cannot vote for someone whom I find morally repugnant. So, what is next? (I think you are replying to my above comment that asks the same thing, so just let this one go).

  • Ron Fay

    Defending him is indeed a problem. Getting into bed with a man of such questionable morals has always been a problem. Once certain candidates lost in the Republican primaries (we all knew Clinton was going to win the Dem primary), I knew I was either not voting or going third party. Due to the stance of the Republican party over the last decade, I left it and am now an Independent. The more I study politics, the more I feel that Christians either need to run or else not vote. Both major parties support platforms that should be alienating to Christians who actually read and follow the Bible. The only redeeming feature of the Republican platform is pro-life. Many of my friends in the Evangelical world held their nose and voted on that alone. They feel validated by Trump’s SCOTUS choices. I could not bring myself to compromise like that.

  • Ron,

    Thank you. You give me some hope, and I’ll tell you why. I’m hopeful that many folks have also not seen those and other quotes from Trump in which he clearly praises and encourages violence, in addition to so many flat false statements, and the name-calling, and on and on.

    That tells me that even though these things are widely reported, there are at least some Evangelicals that don’t know the truth about Trump, because news sources are often chosen according to one’s tribe.

    We in the Church have to do better at being finders and sharers of facts, as well as conversing in these and other venues. I deeply appreciate you conversing honestly here with me. If we can’t do this as believers, who will?

  • Chad V

    T,

    I have always appreciated your posts on this site and still do. And no, I do not believe that you are being disrespectful and uncivil. Forgive me if I gave that impression. My frustration centers on what it is that you and others want white evangelicals to do. How much “speaking out” is enough, and who is to say? Will white evangelicals be redeemed only when they all vote for someone other than Trump? Will sitting out the next presidential election cycle get them back in good graces? Exactly how do they redeem themselves?

    And how do we define “support” of President Trump? Does a vote “for” constitute support for all that the man stands for and is as a person? I think not. I have many friends in and outside of my church family who voted for Donald Trump. They are good, decent, godly people who would never align themselves with Mr. Trump’s values and ways. But they did vote for him, and they did so for intelligent, sensible reasons. And yet, pieces such as yours seem to lump all of these good people into the category of those who need to wake up and repent. I’m confused. My apologies for sounding so frustrated but it’s because I am. Peace to you.

  • gingoro

    Well said T.

  • I applaud your stance. I’m more accepting of the “lesser of two evils” vote to some extent, but that can only go so far. I’d be less concerned for the Church, for instance, if Trump had the same voting numbers from white evangelicals, but lower approval numbers from white evangelicals. It’s the tribal loyalty and defense of the indefensible (or even the adoption of his ways of thinking and acting) that I find to be especially concerning.

    Many thanks again for your interactions here. I am encouraged.

  • Rick

    “Does a vote “for” constitute support…”
    It is the continued support, beyond the vote, and lack of criticizing when appropriate:

    “Trump’s standing among white evangelicals has remained virtually unchanged at 71 percent, according to a recent Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) poll conducted in late August and early September. The results follow a summer marked by crisis after crisis, from Trump’s controversial unpopular directive to separate migrant families to his controversial meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to the defection of Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, who now says Trump ordered an illegal payoff to Stormy Daniels, the porn actress who claims to have had an affair with Donald Trump…White evangelicals remain the only religious group in America to view Trump favorably according to the poll.”

    https://www.vox.com/identities/2018/10/3/17929696/white-evangelicals-prri-poll-trump-presidency-support

  • Rick

    “When asked the most important factor in casting their 2016 vote, the top four answers given by evangelicals by belief were the ability to improve the economy (17%), a position on healthcare (11%) or immigration (10%), and the ability to maintain national security (9%). Religious liberty (8%), the Supreme Court (7%), personal character (7%), and abortion (5%) finished behind…In other words, evangelicals voted more along Republican values than traditional social conservative values. The fact that abortion and the Supreme Court ranked so low is counter-intuitive to the prevailing narrative that evangelicals are single-issue voters.”- CT

    https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/october/why-evangelicals-trump-vote-81-percent-2016-election.html

    HT: Skye Jethani

    https://soundcloud.com/admin-email-921189647/episode-323-not-debunking-the?fbclid=IwAR3U4hc9tdHySEe6AflGZNzuOmlvkYLv3kJYs9oXSTZV-BQEs4K3UUYEowI

  • Rick

    “It’s the tribal loyalty”

    Has that become the tribe? Our political allegiance?

    “I fear that evangelical leadership, who must be considered elites relative to their own group, are failing to understand the tribal instincts of their own congregations. While we would prayerfully hope that a Christian life steeped in the study of God’s Word would direct people in a particular way, we often fail to understand that life is complicated, and voters are driven by a number of concerns…If evangelical leaders consistently fail to understand the tribal nature of their own congregations—and indeed the tribal nature of their own elite circles—then evangelicals and their confessional cousins will have less and less influence as this peculiar century groans forward.”- Matt Stokes/TGC

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/political-tribes-group-instinct/

  • Fergus

    I struggle with this question also. One decision I’ve made is that I do not buy into the lesser of two evils. When we vote, it is FOR a candidate. Not against a candidate. Therefore, a vote cast is an endorsement of the candidate.

    A second decision I have made is that I will only vote for a qualified candidate. There are behaviors and positions I have identified that, for me, disqualify a candidate from receiving my endorsement.

    When taken together, it is entirely possible that there will be elections where I cannot in good conscience vote for any candidate for office.

  • Fergus

    Well said! The witness of the church is much more important than who wins an election. Especially when we vote out of fear.

  • Fergus

    Same here. Until enough people are willing to withhold their vote, we will continue to get more of the same when it comes to political options.

  • Chad V

    Rick,

    There are plenty of evangelicals who have been and are critical of President Trump, even those who voted for him. And what about continued support? Is it possible to continue to support certain of his policies and decisions while not supporting the whole of the man and his actions? Sure it is. Most of us do this all of the time with candidates that we voted for or “supported”. Only the most strident Conservatives and Progressives buy into the whole of a candidate or party, unwise IMO.

    I ask again for those accusing white evangelicals, how much criticism of the President is enough? How much speaking out is enough? How long does this finger-pointing go on? I am not defending the President’s evangelical groupies. Every Party has them, including Progressive Christians toward certain Democrat and Libertarian candidates. I’m simply defending the many good, Jesus-loving, conscientious white evangelical voters out there who are under continual attack from their own brothers and sisters for simply voting their preference, albeit very imperfect. Peace.

  • Rick

    Chad V- Thanks for your response. I am not currently not as concerned with the 2016 vote, as I am the continued support. He has no reason to change his tune w/ evangelical support so high. Are evangelicals, as the recent poll showed, more interested in the economy and immigration than the old narrative that it was about abortion and religious freedom? Are evangelicals more tied to a political tribe, than the church tribe? How does this impact our witness to the world? Those are my concerns.

  • Chad V

    God help us if we hitch our wagon to a political tribe rather than Jesus and his church. The church down through history does not have a great track record with respect to this issue, much to our shame. What are evangelicals most concerned about? Who really knows. I certainly agree that President Trumps evangelical supporters should be wise in using their support…or possible withdrawal of that support, to make a definitive statement to him about their true values and that their support of him is not unconditional. Maybe the next election will bear that out.

    Finally, I share your concern about our witness to the world. After all, that’s what we are commissioned to do (Acts 1:8). We need wisdom and courage to work that out in the world of politics and to strike the balance between cynical apathy and christening a certain Party or candidate as the one for Christians.

    Thank you for your thoughtful engagement. Peace.

  • Chad,

    Thanks much. I share your frustration. Of course, I’m sure what each of us hears, reads, and says in this regard is different. So, I can only speak for myself. I felt it was important to speak given the overlap between the recent violence and the rhetoric and/or thinking of the President, and the strong support this President has enjoyed from white evangelicals, of whom I am one.

    As for what constitutes that support, I tend to be concerned, as others have noted and in line with other comments I’ve made in this thread, by the high approval ratings that Trump gets specifically from white evangelicals, despite or in some instances because of his demagoguery. I think many have either cheered Trump’s language for one reason or another, or they’ve dismissed it as merely fluff and style. I find that position hard to maintain in light of recent events and the reasons the killer and attempted killer had for their attacks. I have some sympathy for folks who voted for him as a vote for the lesser of evils. I have a harder time understanding the overwhelming approval and even advocacy he receives from people who say that Christ has their primary allegiance. Does Jesus see this caravan as a bunch of “invaders” to be treated as such? What about other people seeking refuge? Should they be feared as Trump encourages? For all Christian supporters, though, regardless of the reason, I ask, “How much is enough? How much demagoguery is too much? Or is this a good thing or meaningless thing in your view?” We are publicly stapling our faith to his actions with the high approval ratings and advocacy given by white evangelicals. That is our witness right now.

  • James Lorence

    I suppose if you are insulated from the “forgotten man” by the walls of “higher” education, you will never understand why the middle class evangelical is so supportive of Trump. For the past 33 years I have served Hillary’s deplorable and Obama’s “clingers to their guns and religion types”. All your rants will not separate us from our support of Trump.

  • Ross Warnell

    The late Molly Ivins (Lord how I miss her) once wrote “Before some people change their minds they have to get like the ‘possum eating a dead skunk in the middle of the highway in East Texas one hot July afternoon. After a while he looked up an grinning said ‘Folks, I do believe I have had about as much of this enjoyment as I can stand’!” Hopefully we’re approaching a dead skunk moment.

  • Chad V

    T,

    Well said. One of my main criticisms of President Trump is his rhetoric, through all mediums. Some have noted that whatever good executive policy decisions he may have made are sadly eclipsed by his careless rhetoric and the potential detrimental effect it may have on the diplomatic front. Indeed, there is a time for tough language on the part of the Commander in Chief. But the kind of immature, reckless communication that he often engages in is IMO an embarrassment to our nation and not becoming of a true statesman. Peace to you.

  • JohnM

    There is no reason it cannot be true that Trump is a demagogue, and that the caravan is orchestrated. It really is hard to buy a 1000 mile trek by several thousand men women and children *through* one country, toward another country as a spontaneous response to desperate conditions. Not that I lose any sleep over it, and I don’t appreciate my tax dollars being wasted on troops to the border – talk about your political stunts – but I do wonder who is egging who on.

  • Nimblewill

    I think we really need to consider the fact that we have taught a vengeful god and expect its followers to be peaceful. We should view God through a Jesus lens.

  • Paperboy_73

    I’m going to be honest, I’d feel more comfortable if it was a single-issue voter thing. Holding your nose and voting on one side because you think it will end abortion? Not my jam, but fair if you truly believe abortion is murder.

    But to put that aside and see the whole picture – the vilification, the hatred, the obvious lies and objectification – and to say “yes! those are my values!”? That was part of what led me to realise I had nothing in common with these people. This presidency is doing more damage to the idea of Christians as a living witness of God’s goodness than anything I’ve ever seen. Because there’s a lot going on, and the things that seem to produce the most support? There isn’t a drop of goodness there.

  • James,

    That is a completely baseless charge. It would be as if I had said,
    “I suppose if you are insulated from the refugee by the privilege of your birthplace and community, you will never understand why this Christian is so disappointed by Trump. . . . All his rants will not separate us from people whom the Lord loves and welcomes.” But I’m not going to assume that you are insulated from the plight of the refugees in this world, or from others that Trump targets with demagoguery. I’d appreciate it if you don’t assume that those who are critical of Trump are insulated from middle class evangelicals, and call them deplorable. It’s neither charitable nor true. We can discuss anything respectfully, if that’s what you want to do.

  • Jesus will not fulfill his “Prince of Peace” role until the Tares are removed. We are under wrath at this time because we ignore Yahweh’s Law and Commandments, even though we claim to follow the One who said, ‘If you LOVE ME, KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS’ and we as a people can’t even stop eating God’s garbage collectors even though they make us sick. Most ‘evangelicals’ are as two-faced as any politician, because we have not identified them as our enemy.

  • LastManOnEarth

    Concern Troll has
    Concern.

  • Brian Arbuckle

    Wow! I guess there really are some evangelicals who believe the kingdom of God will arrive on Air Force One. Sorry for you T.

  • Brian,

    Not what I said at all. When you can converse in good faith with civility, you are always welcome.

  • JK

    T, you follow other bloggers, preachers, and self-appointed prophets in pointing out Trump’s deplorable rhetoric… “praised torture…” , “praised criminal assault…”. And yes, rhetoric is powerful.

    So are actions. In your lifetime, many presidents have said the right thing, yet done more wrong than the Trump administration so far.
    Regarding immigrants and detention: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/inside-the-administrations-1-billion-deal-to-detain-central-american-asylum-seekers/2016/08/14/e47f1960-5819-11e6-9aee-8075993d73a2_story.html?utm_term=.e09c85464997

    Regarding torture, spying on political opponents, and killing US citizens: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/14/13577464/obama-farewell-speech-torture-drones-nsa-surveillance-trump

    Regarding torture and executive powers: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/03/obamas-legacy-of-impunity-for-torture/555578/

    Being wise here means not focusing only on rhetoric, but paying attention and holding accountable when the pretty rhetoric doesn’t match the ugly actions.

    All of this makes a strong case for conservatism and limited executive powers. Under that governance, talk may be ugly but is simply “cheap talk”.

  • fb

    This is a great question. I’m not sure there’s a one-size-fits-all answer. But throughout my life (now in my mid-50s), I’ve been third party voter. I understand that it marginalizes me and may make me politically irrelevant to many politicians. But I think I can live with it. Were Jesus and his disciples considered politically relevant? Did they hold seats of power or have influence among those who did? Not to my eye. And all they did was change the world.

    I remain politically engaged. I continue to write and call my representatives, to speak out on issues publicly, and to try to help others (notably Christians) to think through issues with clear minds, compassionate hearts, and love for God and his priorities. I frequently engage in thoughtful, civil dialogue (and even debate) on social media. But I don’t kid myself. I’m no Franklin Graham or Jerry Falwell Jr or even Jim Wallis when it comes to political influence. And I’m okay with that.

  • Brian Arbuckle

    I regret that you find my remark to be lacking in good faith and civility. However, I’m weary of reading these myopic rants on the character of Donald Trump. Yours, like most others with which we have been bombarded for the past two years, is naive and hypocritical; mere shaming. What do you expect your readers to do? Why is this even on the Jesus Creed blog? Jesus had very little to say about the political leaders of his day. You seem to be infatuated with Trump. Are you under his spell too? There are far more substantial issues than Trump’s character to be concerned about. Why not write about what the United States will be like if “good” Democrats have their way? But please, don’t do it here.

  • Brian,

    You are demonstrating one big reason why loyalty to Trump is hugely problematic within evangelicalism. You ask why this post is on the Jesus Creed blog, but part of the answer is right in the post: “white Evangelicals are notorious for supporting a man who recognizes that he is notorious for stoking anger with personal attacks.” Another part of the answer is in your conduct in your two comments. I find it unfortunately confirming of these concerns that you would open your contribution in this discussion with a flatly untrue smear of me, just as Trump does to so many. In your first comment you said that I “believe the kingdom of God will arrive on Air Force One.” I neither said nor argued anything of the kind in a rather long post. Arguing against public evangelical support for a demagogue is not at all the same as the dubious doctrine that the kingdom will come through the US, let alone a president.

    And now with your second comment, you continue the emulation of Trump, by acting like it is some oddity on my part that I “find” your false statement about me to lack good faith and civility. It is not something that I merely “find.” It is an obvious and provable truth; one that you deny with snark and more attacks. But that too, is part of Trump’s pattern, to respond to legitimate criticism with denials and more attacks, which is what your second comment contains. There, you’re not engaging with the points, only declaring them and me to be “myopic . . . naive and hypocritical; mere shaming” but without any argument at all. And you add to this more insults and snark by accusing me of being “infatuated” with Trump. Instead of simply admitting you were uncivil, that your remark was untrue, you doubled down. It’s Trump 101.

    But what’s even more ironic is that I have written a fair amount at this blog over the last decade or more–including specifically about the reign of God on many, many occasions–both as a an author of posts and comments, but I did not mention the kingdom in this post, nor did I make any argument that the kingdom would come through a president. My concern, by contrast, is that the kingdom’s work is to be the Church’s work and witness. But at this moment in history, white evangelicals are becoming more identified with Trump than with Jesus, and in more ways than one.

    Finally, you say this: “There are far more substantial issues than Trump’s character to be concerned about.” Indeed there are, which is why the real thrust of this post, and now this comment, isn’t so much about Trump’s character, but the character of those in the evangelical church who continue to support him as he demonstrates such demagoguery. You have provided a demonstration for why this post is here at Jesus Creed: Because Trump and his ways are clearly deeply connected to many in the evangelical church, even to the point of publicly imitating some of his worst behaviors.

  • JK,

    I absolutely agree that torture and other immoral conduct by government should get evangelical criticism, no matter the president or pol or party.

    Indeed, I trust neither the GOP nor the Dems to limit their own power or regulate themselves when either party gets too much control. “Limited government” is something the GOP does better talking about than doing. Both the Dems and the GOP want to expand government and actually do so, only in different parts and capacities. Which is why I am a big believer in divided government more than any party, if the goal is limited government.

    Even though I lean right, I would have absolutely voted for Bernie Sanders had he won the nomination. Why? because the whole Congress was GOP. He would have been largely unable to do any of his grand plans with a GOP Congress. By contrast, the Trump led GOP has reversed the spending controls put in place when the WH and Congress were divided by party and now is blowing a huge hole in the deficit, even during an economic upturn, even the GOP ranted for years about debt ceilings under Obama.

    If you want government to be self-limiting and self-policing, you need divided government. Otherwise you’ve got foxes guarding the hen house.

  • Brian Arbuckle

    Why are you taking all this personally? You seem quite fragile. Do you always feel under attack when someone asks you questions or doesn’t see the world quite as you do. I’ve read this response a number of times. You might do well to consider who it really is who is emulating Trump. I’m no defender of Trump but I do understand why many continue to support him in spite of his character. I’m just weary of reading myopic, hypocritical and naive articles about Trump and the white evangelicals who voted him into office. I’m sorry I even responded to your post. Now you think you know me. And now I see you in a way I never did before. I’ll ask you again, What is it you want your readers to do? What is it you want white evangelicals who continue to support Donald Trump to do?

  • Brian, you conflate my willingness to point out the false things you’ve said and the manner with which you’ve said them with how I personally feel about them. I’m okay with you saying whatever you like as far as my feelings are concerned. But given the topic, yes, I will call them out for their falsity or lack of basis or civility. I don’t think I know you at all, other than how you speak here.

    As for what I hope for evangelicals generally to do, the post and other conversations in this thread are clear. I hope that, assuming Trump continues with his demagoguery, that the Evangelical church starts to express, in a variety of ways, less approval of it. Trump cannot survive politically without the support of white evangelicals. If they were less accepting of his misbehavior and made that known in the constant polling, it would get his attention. But even if he did not change, our witness would be less damaged if white evangelicals weren’t leading the way in support and approval. As he mocks and slanders others, especially the most vulnerable people, and we keep approving him, our faith is made a mockery and is slandered.

  • Elca

    Trump kmows how to feed his base. And so he will continue until the base have had enough.
    Sad to say that too many white Evangelicals have shown their true colors as being hypocritical and delusional people to be a member of Trumps base.
    It’s a sad sight to behold…

  • Ted Johnson

    T, I have appreciated many of your posts and comments on this blog. Including those I did not fully agree with. And while I trust this post is sincere and well intended, it further drives the political polarization and animosity and name calling that is all too common elsewhere, and brings it here to this blog, tending to create yet another echo chamber where only one political viewpoint is represented and approved and everyone here just upvotes and reinforces everyone elses mutually shared political slant, bias and spin. The few outliers are shouted down and called “bad” (bad christian, bad evangelical, bad Republican, bad conservative, or the common trifecta: bad white male Republican evangelical, (ok, not 3 but 4 but trifecta sounds better) ) and they leave. And then all the discussions on the blog, not just the political ones, become more filtered out, monocromed, narrowed, and it becomes just people who think alike, vote alike, ie progressive or liberal, democratic, anti evangelical, anti Republican, echoing and reinforcing each others bias (do you acknowledge everyone has bias?) on every topic. Is that not what many of us dislike about other blogs and websites? Where you know what slant everyone is going to take on every topic even before you read it? Maybe that is what this a majority of this blog community now wants here, their own progressive Democratic blog on theological/biblical and political issues. I am one person, who has been part of this blog community, who is sad to see this, but also somewhat resigned that this is the times we live in. That is my take.

  • Chari McCauley

    And, there is this:

    Revelation 18:4 King James Version (KJV)
    4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

    King James Version (KJV)
    Public Domain

    Where will you go, when you leave? Wherever The Lord leads. You can’t learn the OJT, if your nose is always in the textbook. Ask the doctors and nurses which part of class they learn the most from/ or the military….; classroom instruction or practical application?

    Always remain teachable, because as long as creating things exists, there will always be new things to learn. Infinity is a large place,, and eternity is a long time. There is a reason patience is a virtue,…so many variables can affect the outcomes. The laws/foundations/recipes for good health and expansion are the main goal. Pain is the enemy, we get enough growing pains without intentionally inflicted pain.

    If we practiced the empathy The Lord told us to practice, and stop cheating each other, lying to each other, using each other, stealing from each other, share it all instead of a few hoarding everyone else’s share, there would be more creating, and less pain. 10 rules by Father plus empathy added by His Son. (There is a mention of respect fathers AND mothers, but no skin colors, countries, or religions, just people in general.) We still can’t do it.

    Also, I interpret the first rule repeated by His Son to mean, if you have any questions, ask The Father that wants you to cooperate with your brother and sisters and create good things, not ways to get more than the others. Don’t abuse that which takes care of you; or, bite the hand that feeds you. Even thieves go by the thou shalt not steal; else, what does “honor among thieves” mean?

  • Chari McCauley

    I wonder if they really believe that The President, Donald Trump has NEVER paid for an abortion?

  • D.M.S.

    All the tax payers in the USA have paid for abortions with their tax dollars.

  • Chari McCauley

    But, I thought the issue was LIFE, not CASH?
    And, since you gave Donald Trump a PASS that must mean the real issue is CASH in your pocket.

    At LEAST be honest, i mean DT brags about it. And, you think he will invite you to roll into Heaven with him for defending him.

  • D.M.S.

    There’s not one president that I know of that has been worth a dang in the last 60 years including the one we have now. And I doubt that we will ever elect anyone good again.

  • 1st_Amendment

    “He’s going to make all kinds of personal and false attacks against individuals and whole groups of people and even nations.”
    What a sad petty accusation. How’s the fortune telling career going for other leaders? Did you predict Hillary would win and are now sad you won’t get to go to any of the Spirit Cooking parties?
    Who was the called the accuser, again?

  • D.M.S.

    DT will probably be rolling into heaven about the same time as BC is rolling into heaven.
    But it is possible that they may repent and make it into heaven.