What Must Evangelicals Do To Be Saved (from Donald Trump)?

What Must Evangelicals Do To Be Saved (from Donald Trump)? August 2, 2016

Don’t do what some Roman Catholics advocate:

We attend a special Rosary group when we can, and one of the couples in the group particularly loves the Battle of Lepanto. They spread the message of God’s intervention in this tide-turning battle of the Crusades everywhere they go. This couple’s faith in the power of prayer, reinforced by their knowledge of this decisive victory of good in response to a nationwide Rosary, is amazing to see.

The power of Our Lady’s intercession at Lepanto is a good thing for us to remember now, too. Here we are, just a little over three months out from an election that will determine the president for at least four years and Supreme Court justices for who-knows-how-long, and, for many of us, there just isn’t a candidate we trust. We’re stuck with a choice we don’t like: putting a vote in for someone whose heart we doubt (but who claims to support our views), or letting the absence of our vote count in favor of a candidate we know has evil plans.

In a situation such as this, when it really does look (to some of us) as if all the chips are down, remembering the Battle of Lepanto can renew our hope.

Wouldn’t remembering a battle in which Christians defeated Muslims make the people praying more likely to support a candidate who wants to limit Muslim immigration?

So what are the choices? Doesn’t look like evangelicals one. Here’s one assessment:

this election represents a hinge moment for evangelicals in America. Will we show that we are willing to break with the GOP over matters of conscience, or that we are just errand boys for the Republican Party?

Most of Professor Grudem’s column is a pretty conventional argument for holding our nose and voting for Trump. The most compelling part, as usual, is that IF we can assume that Trump would nominate good Supreme Court judges, then at least the Court would be in better shape at the end of his presidency.

That’s a pretty big “if,” given what else we have to swallow with Trump. I have no idea what he would actually do with regard to judges, and his past behavior gives me little reason to trust his word on most any subject.

What we do know is that Trump is the crudest, most uninformed candidate in the history of major presidential contenders. Whether he is actually a misogynist or a racist is unclear (what makes someone an honest-to-goodness “racist”?). But it is clear that he has a long history of misogynistic and racist comments, on which he typically doubles down when challenged.

And another reason not to vote for Trump:

Leaders who support Trump — members of Congress, conservative thinkers, figures of the religious right — do so for a variety of reasons. But whatever their motivations, they are encouraging an alternate and degraded version of the American story. In Trump’s telling, this is a nation that was once great but is now besieged and infiltrated by threats to its identity. Other nations — “France is no longer France” — have allowed their distinct cultures to be overwhelmed by immigration and outside influences. The United States must be protected from the same fate by a strong leader. And Trump’s America is defined as the familiar nation of decades past, which was largely white and Christian.

In fact, the United States is the model for the world when it comes to integrating Muslims and people of other faiths into a pluralistic society. Rather than recognizing this achievement, Trump would undo it and foster the kind of conflict he warns against.

So what should evangelicals do? Can they now empathize with Alec Baldwin who threatened to move to Canada if George W. Bush were elected?

At least evangelicals can pray. And those prayers should be ones of thanksgiving that the Democrats have not put forward a candidate like Alec Baldwin (or Oliver Stone):

pick a fair Democratic analog to Donald Trump. It has to be somebody not merely utterly unfit for high office, but also completely untrustworthy on those same social issues on which our imaginary Republican is extreme. Let’s imagine that well-known conspiracy theorist Oliver Stone somehow became the Democratic nominee, and let’s say he had a history of saying that abortion was murder and that homosexuality is a disease, but that during the campaign he made half-hearted gestures toward promising to appoint liberal judges. Meanwhile, he’s got to be unreliable on a host of other important issues as well — occasionally suggesting that he’d privatize Medicare, say, or calling for a Balanced Budget Amendment.

But: our hypothetical Oliver Stone nominee has staked out an extreme and unwavering position on an issue dear to the hearts of part of the Democratic coalition, a part that feels like it just can’t make itself heard. He’s called for a complete and permanent withdrawal of all American forces from the Middle East; an end to support for Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states; the immediate closure of Guantanamo Bay and the release of all prisoners back to their home countries; to rip up the Patriot Act, ban drone warfare — basically, an end to the War on Terror in all its forms, the whole nine yards, with no equivocation or qualification.

That, I would venture to say, is a fair analogy. Am I confident that hordes of Democrats would turn to “sleazy Romney” if the other choice were Oliver Stone? No — but I don’t think it’s an incredibly big ask. Frankly, I think it would be a no-brainer for just about anybody, with the possible exception of people who thought ending the War on Terror in all its forms was the overwhelmingly most important issue, one that justified a complete break with normalcy, even including the election of someone manifestly unsuited to the office.

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