I’ve got two tickets to the Trump rally in Ocala next week. The other night a friend asked (this was a few hours before the “shocking” new video) what I would ask Trump if given the opportunity. Truly, there’s nothing I want to ask the man. I’ve heard more than enough.
But I do have several questions for my evangelical friends who support him.
The most succinct case I’ve heard for supporting Trump came in a comment on my Facebook wall. It said that Hillary Clinton was a “Luciferian Wiccan.” If this is indeed true, I could not vote for her in good conscience. I agree we’re not electing a Sunday School teacher. But devil worshiper as commander in chief? No, thank you!
Friends whose opinions I respect are more circumspect. They hold their nose and say that he’ll protect the interests of Christians, he’ll lower taxes on the wealthy (which will lead to more jobs for the poor), he’ll put America’s interests first internationally, he’ll keep us safe, and he’ll ensure that the Supreme Court is filled with pro-life judges. Hillary, on the other hand, wants to destroy America.
So here are my questions for my friends:
What sort of Christianity is it that needs the protection of a man whose character could be a sermon illustration from any of the Pauline lists of vices? Just one example, “No sexually immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.” Does Jesus need a person like Trump as a bodyguard? Is our faith so fragile that it needs the support of a poster child for greed, wrath, lust and pride?
What’s the biblical support for the idea that the best way to help the poor is to reduce taxes on the rich? I don’t hear this stated publicly, but I do hear it in private. When I heard Ben Carson speak earlier this year, to a private gathering of donors, he quoted the Bible in support of a flat tax similar to the tithe. But he never mentioned the other interesting parts of the Old Testament economy, such as the canceling of debts every seven years and a massive redistribution of wealth every fifty years. I wonder how that would work. The Bible does say, if a man won’t work, neither should he eat. But that may be worth reading alongside Luke’s gospel or the prophets, which have a lot — a tremendous amount — to say about the dangers of wealth, greed and neglect of the poor.
In what way is Donald Trump a credible defender for the right to life? What is his track record of honoring the image of God in all people, rich and poor, male and female, citizens and aliens, born and unborn? If abortion is the only non-negotiable issue for evangelical Christians, and if a candidate promised to nominate pro-life judges, would that be a mandate to support him no matter how outrageous his speech or conduct? Could anything disqualify him, anything at all? Boasting about sexual assault, for instance? What about shooting someone on Fifth Avenue?
Someday, God willing, I hope to tell my grandchildren about this election. If I do, I’d want them to know that “America First” wasn’t my priority in casting my ballot. Justice and mercy come before America if America means anything at all. And “America First,” if I used the phrase at all, would certainly mean political party second.
Does this mean I’ll tell my grandchildren I voted for Hillary? I would rather give a single vote to a wise friend or a leader of good character as a symbolic gesture of no confidence and trust the rest to the Lord of history. But, if I hear about a shooting tomorrow on Fifth Avenue that may change.