One of the more interesting revelations…and I choose that word carefully…over the past three years has been the assertion by NeverTrump, that a Christian who votes for Trump, no matter the reason, can’t really be a Christian. Though, presumably, a Christian who voted for Hillary Clinton was just fine. This is because that Trump is so uniquely odious as a politician because
he let a woman drown to cover his drunk driving of his hair style and mannerisms and, supposedly his serial infidelities (or so the thrice married Charlie Sykes and adulterous Joe Scarborough tell us) that no one’s soul is safe who voted for him. As a Catholic, I’ve never bothered much with this nonsense. My Church has a visible hierarchy, so I know who to listen to, and we have guide for how to exercise one’s right to vote. I’ve found the current Pope to be enough of a challenge without listening to several hundred, if not thousand, self appointed pontiffs that my Protestant brethren are having to contend with. Nowhere in this guide, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States, is your faith and salvation called into question for voting for a guy you don’t particularly find admirable. You are voting on issues, not on people. Yet, I’ve been amused at the unseemly antics of some Protestant clergy, both for and against Trump, and by the propensity of many Protestant NeverTrumpers to declare folks anathema for voting for Trump. Hell, I’ve even witnessed a Pentecostal question a person’s Christian witness because they support Trump. On multiple occasions.
No less a spiritual guru than David French has claimed that the only reason Evangelicals support Trump is out of fear and their witness is hopelessly compromised:
Talk to engaged evangelicals, and fear is all too often a dominant theme of their political life. The church is under siege from a hostile culture. Religious institutions are under legal attack from progressives. The left wants nuns to facilitate access to abortifacients and contraceptives, it wants Christian adoption agencies to compromise their conscience or close, and it even casts into doubt the tax exemptions of religious education institutions if they adhere to traditional Christian sexual ethics.
These issues are legally important, and there are reasons for evangelicals to be concerned. But there is no reason for evangelicals to abandon long-held principles to behave like any other political-interest group.
Instead, the evangelical church is called to be a source of light in a darkening world. It is not given the luxury of fear-based decisionmaking. Indeed, of all the groups in American life who believe they have the least to fear from American politics, Christians should top the list. The faithful should reject fear.
Yet the church is acting as if it needs Trump to protect it. That’s not courageous. It’s repulsive. And so long as this fear continues, expect the church’s witness to degrade further. In seeking protection from its perceived enemies, the church has lost its way.
It’s time for evangelicals to exercise their political veto power. America’s conservative people of faith should seek a primary challenger to Trump and send a message to the GOP that it will not compromise any longer. And it should do so from a position of confidence–and faith.
Personally, I think this kind of an argument is nothing short of grotesque if not downright blasphemous. What French calls fear is actually Christians acting to combat moral evils…something that apparently is just too darn hard for French to do or something that won’t get him invited to the buffet on the lido deck.
What NeverTrump has done with this irreligious nonsense is teach the left that someone, somewhere, takes their theological advice from various internet randos and will possibly decide not to vote for Trump because a person they don’t know and don’t respect has told them that they’ll go straight to Hell if they do.
The latest edition in this nutbaggery is a perennially losing progressive from Florida named Pam Keith. She just puts into one tweet what French takes an entire article to say:
You can’t support Trump and be a follower of Christ.
It’s one or the other, BUT NOT BOTH.
Those who claim otherwise are seriously deluded about at least one of them, and likely about BOTH.
— Pam Keith (@PamKeithFL) July 2, 2019
Pro Tip, if you’re going to tell people their salvation is in jeopardy based on their vote, then, to be credible, you need to win an election or two. Otherwise folks may start to wonder just who voted for you.
As I said, beyond losing elections and giving off a creepy vibe I don’t know what qualifies her to make that statement…okay, I do know, and it’s “not a freakin thing”.
Theologically, we know questionable men can end up doing good things. King David, for instance. The Early Church wrestled with this problem under the guise of the Donatist Heresy. Here the idea was that for the Sacraments administered by clergy to be efficacious, then that member of the clergy must lead a faultless life. The problem here is pretty easy to see. The same heretical theological model is being drafted from the 6th Century and made to justify opposition to Trump. Trump is a bad man, ergo, everything Trump does is bad, even if it is good. Ironically, it isn’t like Trump will be running against a particularly good person. The entire Democrat field is composed of moral cripples who endorse abortion and homosexual marriage and offenses against nature like transgenderism. Some, like Pete Buttigieg, lead a personal life that makes Donald Trump’s seem relatively normal and definitely biologically explainable. I’ve never heard a satisfactory explanation for how disapproving of Trump’s personal life is more important that the things he’s done to restrict abortion and create space for public practice of religion. I’ve also never heard a cogent theological explanation for why deliberately putting people hostile to Christianity into positions of power is a moral thing to do. I’ve heard envy, anger, hatred, spite, jealousy and all manner of other reason speak against voting for Trump but I have never read a laugh-free spiritual case for why fetishizing classical liberalism or socialism as a political philosophy is a morally defensible act.
This nonsense is going to last as long as Trump is in office. Maybe longer. It is stupid and it is obscene. People need to stop it. But they won’t. Because…well, you know why. OrangeManBad.