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It saddens and disheartens me beyond words to witness the extremes to which so many American Christians (predominantly white) have voiced their unwavering support and blind allegiance to our president-elect. Prior to the election, I truly believed the argument many of my Christian brothers and sisters presented - they said were voting for Trump because they had no alternative, they had to vote for the lesser of two evils, they didn't want to vote for him but had no choice.
Since Nov. 8, though, the atmosphere has drastically changed in conservative Christian circles. I hear preachers and others proclaiming that "God's people have spoken," "God has given America another chance," "The will of God was done." (Interestingly, I've heard very little about God's sovereignty and His will being done in last eight years from these same voices, but I digress)
I, too, am one of God's people, a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, but I didn't vote for Donald Trump. I didn't vote for Mrs. Clinton, either. Both during the primaries and the general election, I cast my votes for moderate candidates, basing a lot on their character than party positions or even their ability to win.
In siding with Mr. Trump, many Christians I've heard have stated they sent a clear message to America. Indeed, they have, but it's not a good one, and it's one I firmly believe will place the proverbial nail in the coffin of white evangelicalism.
No, it was not "God's people" who elected Mr. Trump. It was white people, and a lot of them. Nearly 60% of white, non-Hispanic voters cast their ballots for the president-elect, according to the Pew Research Center. More alarming to me, though, is the estimated 80% of white evangelical Christians who did the same. For nothing more than gaining political power, all our previous cries of decency, morality, and the common good were conveniently pushed to the side.
Distrust and disdain for Mrs. Clinton and her "liberal" ideologies allowed Trump to easily court the white Christian vote. All he had to say was he was anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, and pro-2nd Amendment (along with tossing in a heavy dose of fear regarding our next Supreme Court appointee) and they were in.
Trump could make fun of the disabled and brag about his genital-grabbing escapades. He could demean women, minorities, immigrants, and "other" persons and institutions of faith. He could spew all kinds of hate-filled vitriol towards anyone who disagreed with him, yet American Christians were able to excuse it, justify it, and even exalt it. "He's just saying what everyone is thinking," was the cry I heard from many, many people. Really? This is what "everyone" is thinking? This is what is truly in your hearts? God help us!
By embracing Mr. Trump, American Christians have also embraced the one thing Jesus railed and warned against probably more than any other thing or sin - greed. Trump's entire life and philosophy has hinged on making and loving money and possessions, and he makes no bones about it. It's one of his biggest bragging points in his speeches and rallies. Somehow, though, this doesn't present a problem for "God's people."
Many prominent Christian leaders, including Liberty University's Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham and now head of his father's evangelistic association, openly promoted the president-elect. Others, though, issued some pretty stern and well-thought opinions warning of the message Christians were sending to the world by embracing Trump's rhetoric, behavior, and ideals.
Russell Moore, a theological conservative who heads the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission - the public policy arm of the denomination - was one of Trump's detractors. Earlier this year, Moore stated on CBS's Face the Nation that Trump represented “the very kind of moral and cultural decadence that conservatives have been saying, for a long time, is the problem.”
White, American Christians didn't want to listen to people like Dr. Moore, though. Instead, they went with their emotions, discounting the very essence of Jesus, his life, and teachings. Jesus should guide us not just in our spiritual lives, but our entire worldview, as well. But it's not always easy, and we are a selfish people. ("The gate that leads to destruction is broad and the road wide, so many people enter through it. But the gate that leads to life is narrow and the road difficult, so few people find it." - Matt. 7:13-14 - CEB)
Jesus calls us to be meek and merciful peacemakers, poor in spirit and heart, who thirst for true righteousness; servants to the poor, disadvantaged, and marginalized. He challenges us not only to love our neighbors, but our enemies as well – seeking reconciliation in lieu of revenge. The Apostle Paul says we should exude the virtues of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
The predominant American Christian social platform led by the religious right bares very little resemblance to the kind of self-sacrificing, counter-intuitive message of Jesus. Instead we have gone the opposite direction. We have chosen Caesar over Jesus while the whole world was watching, and we haven’t got a moral leg to stand on.
No, the gospel of Jesus isn't being hindered by the gays, the liberals, the abortion doctors, the drug addicts, or the scientists. The downfall of the American church is coming from within, we are our own worst enemies. When we not only excuse, but stand alongside and willfully advance the ideals, morals, attitude, and overall mean-spiritedness espoused by the president-elect, we deny the mercy, grace, and love of Jesus.
American Christians did, indeed, send a message this election - and we have lost all credibility as messengers of Christ in the eyes of those who need Him the most.