For the past five years I have attempted to make the case against Donald Trump, to both the secular world, and in outreach to the evangelical community that seems to revere him. I saw from the beginning that he was incompetent and excessively corrupt. In fact, his entire 2016 candidacy, as I’ve pointed out before, was more akin to a Saturday Night Live skit than anything real.
My biggest concern, however, was not just his corruption and political puerility, but his vile character. The stories of his true nature have been out there for the world to see since the 70s.
He is the man who was sued – successfully – for housing discrimination. A government sting in New York nailed Trump and his father, Fred Trump, for denying apartments to potential minority renters.
He is the man who has committed multiple adulteries, cheated multiple small business owners and contractors (running many out of business), and in at least one case, sued to have an elderly widow thrown out of her own house, in order to build a parking lot for one of his buildings.
Then there were the recordings, and the subsequent stream of women to back up his disgusting claims of seeing his wealth as a ticket to sexually assault women.
That Access Hollywood recording should have been the end of Donald Trump’s run for political office, but it didn’t even make a dent. The timing of its release, however, may have been too late. Democrats ran the worst, most unlikeable candidate they could find in Hillary Clinton. Their desire to have the “first woman president,” and the selection of someone as flawed as the former First Lady was bound to be their undoing. A cardboard cutout of Gene Hackman could have defeated her in 2016.
At this point, I’m convinced a cardboard cutout in the White House would have served the nation better for the past 3+ years.
I remember the months, weeks, and days leading up to the 2016 election. During the primary season, I was part of a national prayer chain, initially started by members of former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s campaign team, but also with directed prayers for the heart of our nation.
We prayed several times a week on a specified call-in line. When I say there was spiritual fervor and intense calls to holiness and for God’s intervention, I mean it to the max!
The intensity of these calls did not lessen when Perry dropped out of the race, but over time, the attendance on these calls waned, until there was only a core group of faithful believers, still praying and rejecting the disturbing rise of Donald Trump to the candidacy.
One member, in particular, sought out a TV prophet, in order to get some hope that Donald Trump would not be the GOP candidate (and he told her Trump would not be).
Without saying her name, I’ll say my first glimpse into how readily evangelicals would abandon their posts came from this former prayer partner.
She was running for a state-level office in her home state. We often prayed for her efforts and her success. She won the candidacy (and eventually the office).
In a private online discussion, as we were bemoaning the candidacy of Trump, this fierce partner in prayer bluntly stated: I’m the GOP representative now and I support the party’s candidate.
She left the group without another word. The next time I saw her, she was dancing in the aisles at the Republican Party Convention on television.
Since then, every social media post she’s made has been to slavishly sing the praises of all things Trump. She is a true acolyte.
She’s not the only one. Others who deemed him unfit and a danger to the soul of the nation in those prayer calls have laid their moral objections down at the altar of Trump, for the sake of partisanship.
It is heartbreaking to see, and with the exception of a very few from those calls, it is a sickness of spirit that has apparently taken deep root.
For me, I’ve long felt I was standing alone. I’ve been shouting into the vast wilderness and getting nothing back.
Is the evangelical church in America so lost? Is their faith only skin deep? Is there no remnant of faithful believers, ready to stand on God’s holy Word, above any temporal, worldly kingdom?
Politics-as-religion seems to be the dominant church in the United States today. It is depressing. That being said, imagine my relief at finding those trickles of hope coming through.
As we prepare for the next election, other voices are speaking up, and I feel encouraged. Donald Trump has not corrupted the entire American church body.
There is hope that the entire church body has not been rendered useless by partisan politics.
In the past several weeks, I’ve stumbled across articles and blogs from various Christian authors, all making their spiritual case against Donald Trump. They mirror each other – and my own repeated calls to seek character and principle above partisanship.
A recent article in The Independent highlighted a bipartisan Christian super Pac called, Not Our Faith. The group is spending big to put ads in Pennsylvania and Michigan, in an effort to reach Christian voters.
The gist of their recent ad is that Trump uses the Christian community, in an effort to retain power.
That would be true.
They go on to point out his photo op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church. That was the incident from several months ago, where he had protesters tear gassed, in order to walk to the church and pose with an upside down Bible.
The narrator continues: “Christians don’t need Trump to save them. The truth is that Trump needs Christians to save his flailing campaign.”
Trump is down to Biden in most every poll, and most every state. Polls don’t tell the whole story, of course, but with a race this close, Trump needs the support of his base, and a large part of that base has been American evangelicals.
Recent polls of the Christian community have found that there are at least some Christians who have reached their limits and are turning away. Trump’s support among evangelicals, while still high, is not as high as it once was, and that is indicative of something. I can only pray it’s an awakening.
A blogger by the name of Matt Johnson also wrote a piece called, “Trump, Idolatry, and White Evangelicals.” In it, he slams the hypocrisy of teaching kids about morals, honesty, and decency, then supporting a man, politically, who is neither moral, honest, or decent.
The basics of being a good person and following Jesus that I was taught from the generations before me now seem secondary to political alignments. The same people that taught me “Jesus Loves the Little Children” in Sunday school are cheering on family separations at the border. The same people that taught me that I need to always tell the truth are regularly sharing conspiracy theories and blatant lies about people they disagree with politically. The same people that taught me that my character mattered above all else now consistently elevate a man who has shown his character and integrity to be terrible over and over again.
The same people that taught me about Jesus now seem to be OK with speaking, acting, and supporting things that they would have told me were reprehensible to them when I was growing up.
Either their beliefs have changed, or they were lying to me as a kid.
He makes a good point. So which is it?
The most stunning rebuke of the church in this election season, however, comes from theologian, John Piper.
In his article, he begins by expressing how baffled he is by the American church’s courting of Donald Trump.
Actually, this is a long-overdue article attempting to explain why I remain baffled that so many Christians consider the sins of unrepentant sexual immorality (porneia), unrepentant boastfulness (alazoneia), unrepentant vulgarity (aischrologia), unrepentant factiousness (dichostasiai), and the like, to be only toxic for our nation, while policies that endorse baby-killing, sex-switching, freedom-limiting, and socialistic overreach are viewed as deadly.
The reason I put those Greek words in parentheses is to give a graphic reminder that these are sins mentioned in the New Testament. To be more specific, they are sins that destroy people. They are not just deadly. They are deadly forever. They lead to eternal destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
They destroy persons (Acts 12:20–23). And through persons, they destroy nations (Jeremiah 48:29–31, 42).
Piper goes on the state what many others have noticed about the nation under Donald Trump: He is the bad apple spoiling the whole bunch.
In fact, I think it is a drastic mistake to think that the deadly influences of a leader come only through his policies and not also through his person.
“Flagrant boastfulness, vulgarity, and factiousness are not only self-incriminating; they are nation-corrupting.”
This is true not only because flagrant boastfulness, vulgarity, immorality, and factiousness are self-incriminating, but also because they are nation-corrupting. They move out from centers of influence to infect whole cultures. The last five years bear vivid witness to this infection at almost every level of society.
Leaders have the ability to shape their people and the culture around them, not simply through policies, but by their actions and outward character.
As has been pointed out, Trump’s character is all bad.
It’s also of value to note that the world, those lost without Christ, are watching. What do they see from the [alleged] Body of Christ? Do they see compassion, caring, and an invitation to the table? Are they enticed to know this Jesus we say we represent, or do we look more like Donald Trump – abusive and profane?
But his policies! But the judges!
None of these mean anything to the kingdom of God.
Freedom and life are precious. We all want to live and be free to pursue happiness. But if our freedoms, and even our lives, are threatened or taken, the essence of our identity in Christ, the certainty of our everlasting joy with Christ, and the holiness and love for which we have been saved by Christ — none of these is lost with the loss of life and freedom.
Therefore, Christians communicate a falsehood to unbelievers (who are also baffled!) when we act as if policies and laws that protect life and freedom are more precious than being a certain kind of person. The church is paying dearly, and will continue to pay, for our communicating this falsehood year after year.
But abortion! With one more term, Trump will surely end abortion!
At this point, Roe v. Wade is simply an election slogan. Trump, and many other politicians before him have had ample time to get that ball rolling. Where has it gotten us? Trump has actually funded Planned Parenthood fully, rather than take any measures to curtail their influence and reach.
I think Roe is an evil decision. I think Planned Parenthood is a code name for baby-killing and (historically at least) ethnic cleansing. And I think it is baffling and presumptuous to assume that pro-abortion policies kill more people than a culture-saturating, pro-self pride.
When a leader models self-absorbed, self-exalting boastfulness, he models the most deadly behavior in the world. He points his nation to destruction. Destruction of more kinds than we can imagine.
It is naive to think that a man can be effectively pro-life and manifest consistently the character traits that lead to death — temporal and eternal.
Indeed. As I’ve often pointed out, only changed hearts can effectively end abortion in this land.
In his piece, Piper appeals to pastors and minsters, as well, asking them to consider if they’ve cultivated among their flock a willingness to see loss as gain, and hearts that rejoice in knowing that their true treasure and freedom is stored up in Heaven with an almighty God, rather than here on earth.
Or have you neglected these greatest of all realities and repeatedly diverted their attention onto the strategies of politics? Have you inadvertently created the mindset that the greatest issue in life is saving America and its earthly benefits? Or have you shown your people that the greatest issue is exalting Christ with or without America? Have you shown them that the people who do the most good for the greatest number for the longest time (including America!) are people who have the aroma of another world with another King?
In other words, stop politicking from the pulpit!
I feel vindicated. I feel I can breathe a bit easier, because other voices are sounding the alarm, making the case, and holding the line against Trump and his cult of rabid partisans.
What will happen to us after November 3?
I had no idea. I have a hope, however, and it is the very Spirit of God binding those hearts and encouraging those with eyes to see and discernment to know.
May those voices always stand ready to sound the alarm and speak truth over this nation.