An American Evangelical Opines On How Evangelical Support Of Donald Trump Is Jeopardizing Religious Identity

Photo credit:- The Christian Post

Throughout his presidency, evangelical support for Trump has remained high. Evangelicals are satisfied with his performance as he has elected conservative judges, spoken out against abortion, defended issues relating to religious liberty, and maintained a very pro-Israel stance in his foreign affairs policies. According to a recent Pew Research Center Survey, 78 percent of white evangelical still support Trump.[1] However, some evangelical leaders are growing increasingly concerned. Evangelical association with Trump is jeopardizing their religious identity.

On April 16 and 17, 50 evangelical leaders met at Wheaton College to discuss the “soul” of evangelicalism.[2] Doug Brisall, one of the leaders who spearheaded the meeting, says the theological term evangelical has become sociological and political.[3] The organizers of the two day event said that the term evangelical needed to return its original meaning—a person who believes in salvation through Jesus Christ, the authority of the Bible, and the need to spread the Christian message.[4]

 

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waits to speak as he is introduced at the New York Veterans Police Association during a campaign event in the New York City borough of Staten Island, NY, on April 17, 2016. New York State Primaries will held on April 19, 2016. (Photo by Anthony Behar) via Time.com

The evangelical group also wanted to present a “counter-narrative”.[5] Many evangelical leaders who attended the meeting hold more moderate and progressive views, especially on public policy issues than most evangelicals.[6] Not unsurprisingly, none of Trump’s faith advisory board were present or invited to the meeting.[7] Several of these evangelical leaders are tired of seeing more well-known evangelical leaders such as Jerry Falwell Jr. and Franklin Graham as being representative the whole Christian faith in America. [8] Their unfaltering support of Trump is causing Christians to be portrayed as misogynist and racist.[9]

There was a strong sentiment that the greatest barrier discouraging people from accepting the Christian message is evangelicals’ favor of Trump. A.R. Bernard, a black pastor of a megachurch, voiced his own concern, stating white evangelicals are too focused on personal morality issues such as gay marriage than the systematic injustice many Americans face such as police brutality.[10] He says that, “The presidency has exposed the spiritual, moral and racial condition of this nation.”[11]

According to CBS news, some evangelical leaders left after Monday because what was supposed to be a conference focused on faith became what they saw a just a long session of bashing Trump.[12] A few people who felt uncomfortable with the rhetoric against Trump left and chose not to come back the next day.[13]

Photo credit:- The Christian Post

Articles I read from the Washington Post, CBS news, and the Economist gave different narrative undertones on the positivity and importance of the evangelical gathering. Personally, I think the issues that the group was trying to tackle are problems evangelicals cannot ignore. Evangelicals are becoming increasingly viewed as right-winged and not Christ centered. Growing up, I heard public evangelical figures criticized the Democrats all the time for electing immoral men such as Bill Clinton to political seat of power all the time. Now that we, the evangelical right, are in power, we get to be annoyed when liberals are offended by a Republican President’s offensive behavior? The hypocrisy is pretty disgusting and it needs to change.

If evangelicals want to dissociate themselves from Trump’s character, then they need to be more vocal in their criticism of the President instead of vindicating everything that he does. To regain their religious identity, evangelicals cannot excuse the President’s immoral behavior in hopes of maintaining power.

Footnotes:-

[1] Bailey, Sara. “Dozens of Evengelical leaders meet to discuss how Trump era has unleashed “grotesque caricature” of their faith” The Washington Post. April 16, 2018

[2] Bailey, Sara. “Dozens of Evangelical leaders meet to discuss how Trump era has unleashed “grotesque caricature” of their faith” The Washington Post. April 16, 2018

[3] No author. The Non-Trump Evangelicals. The Economist. April 19th 2018.  https://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21740816-some-evangelicals-want-wean-their-brethren-unconditional-support-donald

[4] Bailey, Sara. “Dozens of Evangelical leaders meet to discuss how Trump era has unleashed “grotesque caricature” of their faith” The Washington post. April 16, 2018

[5] No author. The Non-Trump Evangelicals. The Economist. April 19th 2018.  https://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21740816-some-evangelicals-want-wean-their-brethren-unconditional-support-donald

[6] Bowder, Jenna, and David Brody. “Several Christian Leaders Walk Out After Evangelical Meeting turn to Trump-Bashing” CBN News. April 17, 2018.

[7] Bowder, Jenna, and David Brody. “Several Christian Leaders Walk Out After Evangelical Meeting turn to Trump-Bashing” CBN News. April 17, 2018.

[8] Bailey, Sara. “Dozens of Evangelical leaders meet to discuss how Trump era has unleashed “grotesque caricature” of their faith” The Washington post. April 16, 2018

[9] No author. The Non-Trump Evangelicals. The Economist. April 19th 2018.  https://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21740816-some-evangelicals-want-wean-their-brethren-unconditional-support-donald

[10] Bowder, Jenna, and David Brody. “Several Christian Leaders Walk Out After Evangelical Meeting turn to Trump-Bashing” CBN News. April 17, 2018.

[11] Bailey, Sara. “Dozens of Evengelical leaders meet to discuss how Trump era has unleashed “grotesque caricature” of their faith” The washington post. April 16, 2018

[12] Bowder, Jenna, and David Brody. “Several Christian Leaders Walk Out After Evangelical Meeting turn to Trump-Bashing” CBN News. April 17, 2018.

[13] Bowder, Jenna, and David Brody. “Several Christian Leaders Walk Out After Evangelical Meeting turn to Trump-Bashing” CBN News. April 17, 2018.

 

Author: Zane Merkle

Zane Merkle currently studies Political Science and has worked as a Research assistant at a Fundamental Christian University called Cedarville. He identifies as an evangelical conservative and plans on commissioning as a marine officer in the United States military after graduating in 2019.

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