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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Evangelical Christians are certainly confused about Donald Trump

Evangelical Christians are selling out faith for politics
"...focused on the rights and privileges of their own community, rather than the welfare of others..."
 
#No_Seriously!

Oh, God  (writes Michael Gerson in The Washington Post) — and I mean the entreaty seriously — the Trump (quasi) evangelical summit in New York was just as bad as some of us feared. (OMG! A man who can't pronounce "Corinthians" has no business attending an Evangelical summit without a Christianity coach.)

More than 900 conservative Christian leaders, put in a susceptible mood by a “prayer guide” (“Acknowledge any personal feelings that would keep you from honoring Mr. Trump for his participation”), witnessed Donald Trump field some softball questions. This was reassuring enough to reward him with a standing ovation and positive buzz. Trump can now (accurately) assume that these clerics and activists won’t be giving him much more trouble.

Many participants insist they haven’t yet given Trump their endorsement. The whole event, however, was taken — by the media, public and Trump campaign itself — as an evangelical Christian stamp of approval. Seldom has a group seemed more eager to be exploited.

No one, remarkably, asked Trump to explain the moral theory that has guided his gyrations on the abortion issue — from supporter of partial-birth abortion to advocate of punishment for women who have abortions. That, presumably, would have been impolite. And few were offended when Trump used the occasion to question Hillary Clinton’s faith. “She’s been in the public eye for years and years,” he said, “and yet there’s no — there’s nothing out there.” It is like watching a man insult a mirror.

In the course of the event, Trump promised to nominate judges whom evangelicals would favor; to change laws that restrict church involvement in partisan politics; and to foster a cultural ethos that allows the unapologetic usage of “Merry Christmas.” “You get racism, misogyny, torture and an authoritarian as commander in chief,” one evangelical leader wrote me, “but you’ll get to hear ‘Merry Christmas’ in stores. Now that’s the art of the deal.”

There is a case for reluctant support of Trump over Clinton — a weak one, I think, but embraced by some serious people. 

Yet, this event was not the tortured search for partial truths in a fallen world. It was a sad parody of Christian political involvement, summarizing all the faults and failures of the religious right.

We were reminded, first, that many religious conservatives are a cheap political date. Chuck Colson often described how, during the Nixon administration, religious leaders (as opposed to, say, union leaders) were easily impressed and tamed by proximity to power. After Tuesday’s meeting, the Christian writer Eric Metaxas, in promoting his radio show, tweeted, “I WAS RIGHT THERE!” Why such wide-eyed reactions from some in attendance? A panting desire for affirmation rooted in feelings of inferiority? 

A disorienting fear of fading cultural influence? 

Echoes, in embracing a billionaire, of the prosperity gospel? Whatever the motivation, the public has seen a movement content with a pat on the head and a scratch under the chin.

We are reminded, second, that much of the religious right’s criticism of President Bill Clinton’s character was a ploy. Franklin Graham now argues that because Abraham lied, Moses disobeyed God and David committed adultery, Trump should get a pass, not just on his personal behavior but also on his deception, cruelty and appeal to bigotry. It is a non sequitur revealing the cynical subordination of faith to politics. (These tangential correlations make no sense. In fact, Right Wing Christians often sit in moral judgement of others, regardless of what the lessons of the Bible teach us about the power of forgiveness. Frankly, Evangelicals believe in "forgiveness" only if the sinner proclaims to be "born again" and baptized in the faith. In other words, rationalizing about Abraham and Moses doesn't carry into modern Evangelical practice.)

Third, we are seeing a group focused on the rights and privileges of their own community, rather than the welfare of others — the poor, struggling and vulnerable. Many in that room do wonderful good works. But they have reduced Christian political involvement to a narrow, special interest — and a particularly angry and unattractive one. A powerful source of passion for social justice — a faith that once motivated abolitionism and various movements for civil and human rights — has been tamed and trivialized.

It is not the first time. During the civil rights movement in the 1960s, one of the main organs of white evangelical opinion, Christianity Today, defended “voluntary segregation,” criticized the March on Washington as a “mob spectacle” and took the side of the University of Mississippi against James Meredith

While that magazine is now a vocal advocate of racial reconciliation and social justice, the bad political choices of many evangelicals at a defining moral moment still damn and damage their movement.
It is happening again. Evangelical Christian leaders, motivated by political self-interest, are cozying up to a leader who has placed bigotry and malice at the center of American politics. They are defending the rights of their faith while dishonoring its essence. Genuine social influence will not come by putting Christ back into Christmas; it will come by putting Christ and his priorities back into more Christians.

Read more from Michael Gerson’s archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook .

To summarize- Evangelicals are confused about Donald Trump because, frankly, he's their only alternative unless,of course, they finally open their eyes to seriously look at Secretary Hillary Clinton- a devout ChristianMethodist.

"Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can."

John Wesley
Theologian

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