Hillary Clinton is a liar.
Benghazi is a mess – on both ends of the political spectrum. No doubt. Four Americans died during the attack, and House Republicans have spent an incredible amount of time and tax-payer money to essentially clear Clinton of any wrongdoing.
And some aspects of the Clinton Foundation are definitely shady (though the Foundation has provided over 9 million people with lower-cost AIDS/HIV medication).
But, enough about Hillary Clinton. We can talk about her later.
In recent months we’ve seen a slew of prominent evangelical authors and theologians throw their support behind Donald Trump. A recent Pew Research report reveals that 78% of evangelical Christians currently plan on voting for Trump come November.
Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but many high-profile Christian endorsements of Trump appear to imply it may very well be a violation of a Christian’s moral and ethical duty to not vote for Donald Trump.
So, it’s not the suggestion that a Christian could vote for Donald Trump that’s worrisome so much as it is the insinuation that a Christian should vote for Trump.
Jesus instructed his disciples to be as shrewd as serpents, and as innocent as doves. Therefore, we can surmise that Christians shouldn’t be gullible.
In his second letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul writes: For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
If Paul commanded Timothy – a young Christian – to “avoid such people,” we can probably infer that he doesn’t want us to associate our Christian witness with such people.
Let me be very upfront about something: I think you can still be a Christian and vote for Donald Trump. Just like I believe you can be a Christian and vote for Hillary Clinton. And you can be a Christian if you don’t vote at all. Our salvation doesn’t depend on who we choose to support in a presidential race.
But. Through his personal ethics, business ideals, and domestic and foreign policies, Trump has proven himself unworthy and undeserving of the evangelical Christian vote.
[Note: This section contains graphic and lewd language – however, all are linked quotes]
Throughout his life, Trump has called various women fat, pig, slob, and disgusting animal. During an episode of The Apprentice, he told a female contestant that “it must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees.”
When asked in 1994 interview about which features his one-year-old daughter would inherit from her mother, Trump physically alluded to her breasts. In 2000, Trump made an appearance in a softcore porn Playboy video – popping a bottle of champagne and saying “Beauty is beauty, let’s see what happens in New York.” The video featured clips of naked women touching themselves, dancing, and posing in sexual positions.
If elected president, Trump’s wife – Melania – would be the United States’ first First Lady to have ever posed nude in a pornographic magazine, including a full-page spread of her cavorting naked with other nude women. Instead of expressing regret, Trump and his campaign have defended the photoshoots – claiming they’re “fashionable” and “celebration of the human body as art.”
My intent is not to shame Melania for her personal choices, but instead, point out the hypocrisy inherent in the Evangelical Right’s relationship with partisan politics. Can you imagine the firestorm the Evangelical Right would have created if Trump had been a Democrat candidate? Or if that had been Obama’s wife?
Trump has brazenly bragged about the number of women he has had sex with – including those with husbands. Trump has been divorced twice and famously cheated on his first wife with the woman who would become his second wife.
Update: Recently obtained audio records from 2005 from a hot-mic moment have Trump saying “When you’re a star, they [women] let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy” and “I did try and f*ck her. She was married” and “I moved on her like a b*tch, but I couldn’t get there.”
Trump is the first presidential candidate in history to tell his supporters to “check out [a] sex tape” (a tweet he sent out at 3 a.m. a couple days after the first Presidential debate) – an unprecedented attack on a U.S. citizen by a politician.
He built the first American casino to have a strip club and all-male revue club for women. During a primary debate, Trump talked about the size of his penis on national television. He creepishly commented on his adult daughter’s body and said: “if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
Trump has said, “My whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy” and “I’ve always been greedy. I love money.” The Bible calls the “Love of money the root of all kinds of evil.” He’s called poor people “morons” and Jesus said the poor will inherit the Kingdom of God.
Donald Trump has been involved with more than 3,500 lawsuits – more than any other presidential candidate in history.
In the 1970s, the Department of Justice brought a lawsuit against the Trump family for racial discrimination at Trump Management rental properties. Trump employees marked minority applications with codes, like “C” for “colored,” and then denied their rental application.
Donald Trump has repeatedly refused to release tax returns, depriving the American public of the very evidence he uses to justify his candidacy – his personal success as a businessman.
Trump’s reasoning for not releasing his tax documents – that he’s under audit by the IRS – has been debunked by the IRS itself. In 2012, Trump slammed then-GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney for not releasing his tax returns.
Trump claims his tax returns will “reveal nothing of importance,” but it should be noted that “Crooked Hillary” has released her tax returns from the previous eight years. Trump’s tax returns would also reveal his philanthropic habits – or lack thereof.
Trump has used donations to the Donald Trump Foundation to settle lawsuits on behalf of Trump’s private businesses, purchase a $20,000 portrait of himself, a $12,000 Tim Tebow-signed helmet and make an illegal campaign donation to the Florida Attorney General investigating Trump University. This wouldn’t be that shocking except for the fact the Foundation is funded through other people’s donated money.
Donald Trump has threatened to abandon North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies – even in the event they are attacked.
During a briefing by a top foreign policy expert, Trump allegedly asked, “If we have nukes, why can’t we use them?” repeatedly throughout the meeting. During a live Town Hall meeting, Trump said he “would not rule out nuking Europe.”
He believes the Geneva Convention – the international pact that protects soldiers from being tortured – is outdated. In a debate performance, he said he would bring back waterboarding and a “hell of a lot more.” During a live interview, he said he would “target terrorist’s families” and “take them out.”
For the record, these are war crimes.
Trump and his campaign have portrayed Syrian refugees as poisonous skittles, snakes, and terrorists. He has promised to turn his back on the Syrian refugee crisis in spite of the intensive U.S. vetting process.
Syrian refugees are fleeing one of the most devastating and bloody conflicts the world has ever seen. Overwhelmingly, they are woman and children. Perhaps they are the “least of these” Jesus talked about in Matthew 25? If that’s the case, are you endorsing a sheep or a goat?
Through his vitriolic rhetoric, Trump has garnered the endorsement and support of the American Nazi Party and several white supremacy groups. Trump rallies are filled with racist insults, threats of violence, and hate speech [in all seriousness, watch this video].
David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan, said “I support [Trump’s] candidacy, and I support voting for him as a strategic action. I hope he does everything we hope he will do.”
What will our children and grandchildren think of us if they read “Donald Trump – propelled to victory by white supremacists, evangelical Christians, and disenfranchised voters – was inaugurated on January 20, 2017” in their history textbooks?
More troubling, Trump has repeatedly revoked the press credentials of media outlets from attending his rallies or conducting interviews on that basis that they “write unfairly about him.” During a rally, he said he would open up the United States libel laws to make it easier to sue the press – a violation of the First Amendment.
During his campaign announcement speech, Trump called incoming Mexican immigrants “rapists” and when challenged on that statement replied, “someone is doing is the raping.” He has talked about creating “deportation task forces” intent on separating families who have been living in the United States for decades.
Trump has portrayed illegal immigrants as harbingers of crime and disorder, despite the fact that illegal immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens and illegal immigration has been in a decline since 2004.
In November, he proposed creating an electronic database to keep track of Muslims in the United States. This policy seems eerily similar to a directory implemented by a certain dictator in Germany in the late 1930s.
The End of the Road
Franciscan friar Richard Rohr said, “The evangelical support of Trump will be an indictment against its validity as a Christian movement for generations to come.”
I urge my evangelical Christian readers, please don’t let a Donald Trump presidency be the ideological hill you choose to die on. There are far greater causes and people to sacrifice our reputations for.
If we are to be hated and persecuted by our culture, then let it be for the sake of the Gospel and not for our commitment to a presidential candidate who has said: “women, you got to treat ’em like shit.”
Because let’s try explaining that to our daughters.
Trump has struck a nerve with voters because he taps into legitimate grievances against the current state of American politics, and evangelical voters should have a voice in crafting public policy.
But Trump is not that voice.
I’m not attempting to demonize Trump. His erratic behavior and overinflated ego heavily imply he may have deeply-rooted insecurities which compel him to constantly seek validation – through women, money, and public opinion. He is desperately seeking to fill a void in his soul that can only be fulfilled through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In some ways, Trump is all of us.
Trump needs our prayers, our forgiveness, and our mercy – but that doesn’t mean he needs our nuclear launch codes.
Endorsing and electing Trump will ensure that the evangelical movement in the United States will lose validity within the public sphere for years to come, and its association with Trump’s ideologies will hinder the influence of the Church at home and abroad.
“Putting America First” is neither a sustainable nor a Biblical policy. “Making America Great Again” at the expense of others is not patriotism – it’s tyranny and nationalism.
Donald Trump, no matter how we try to spin it, is not the final bastion of family values, patriotism, religious freedom, and moral fortitude. Instead, he may very well be the clearest justification for evangelical Christians to end their relationship with partisan politics.
It matters who the Church decides to stand (or not stand) behind. We’re told the culture doesn’t care about us, but that is a lie. The world is carefully observing what role the Body of Christ will play in the ever-evolving demographics of the political spectrum.
Addendum: The Hillary Doctrine
Real talk: The primary reason most evangelicals support Trump is that they cannot fathom the United States being led by Hillary Clinton.
I could have easily written an article titled “The Evangelical Case Against Hillary Clinton.” Given the material on the Internet today, it would have been fairly easy. But here’s why I didn’t take that route: Evangelical Christians are not supporting Hillary en-mass like they are Donald Trump.
I don’t like Hillary Clinton, and I don’t think she will make a very good president.
The words I said in the introduction bear repeating: you can be a Christian and vote for Donald Trump. Just don’t go to the voting booth under the guise that a Christian should absolutely vote for Donald Trump.
I’m not recommending the Evangelical Right throw their support behind Hillary Clinton. I couldn’t do that in good conscience – but what I am trying to do is caution Christian voters from openly supporting a man who proudly stands in stark contrast to the Jesus they claim to follow.
And to stand against Trump is not synonymous with standing up for Hillary. We must not let this type of thinking infect our understanding our partisan politics.
I’m going to end this article with a quote from famed theologian C.S. Lewis. Found in his 1964 classic Mere Christianity, I’m going to post it in its entirety -and let my readers decide upon their own personal application and commentary.
I feel a strong desire to tell you – and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me – which of these two errors is the worse. That is the devil getting at us. He always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking about which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between those errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.”
But this may all be an exercise in futility. Trump’s legion of supporters has proven remarkably loyal. And, to be honest, if you’ve stuck with him this far into the race, there’s probably not much more I can write (or that Trump can do) that will affect your support.
Or, in the words of The Donald himself, “it really doesn’t matter what they write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
Endnotes and Resources
Here’s a quote from the Evans’ article: “In the eight years since we’ve had a pro-choice president, the abortion rate in the U.S. has dropped to its lowest since 1973. I believe the best way to keep this trend going is not to simply make it harder for women to terminate unwanted pregnancies but to create a culture with fewer unwanted pregnancies, to begin with. Data suggests progressive social policies that make healthcare and childcare more affordable, make contraception more accessible, alleviate poverty, and support a living wage do the most to create such a culture, while countries where abortion is simply illegal see no change in the abortion rate.”
“But what about gun rights?”
Please read my previous blog about guns.
“But what about the refugees and ISIS?”
Please read any non-partisan fact-checking website and my blog on the issue.
Here’s a quote from the Resurgent article: “A Clinton Administration may see the church besieged from the outside, but a Trump Administration will see the church poisoned from within.”
For the Record: Multiple prominent Christians oppose a Trump presidency, including authors Max Lucado and Philip Yancey, and the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics Commission, Russell Moore. UPDATE: More 100 evangelical leaders have signed a petition denouncing Trump.