Many of us are embroiled in a strained relationship with Pres. Donald J. Trump. The evangelical demographic was a key driver in the 2016 election that put the businessman and former Reality TV star into the White House. Despite widespread reports that then-candidate Trump had no path to victory, Christians turned out the vote and helped to hand him the presidency.
Since then, rocky public relations, Twitter outbursts and allegations that President Trump once had an extra-marital affair with a porn star named Stormy Daniels has caused people of faith some consternation. Faith, politics and the president have become a moral tug-of-war that has left many of us questioning whether we should continue to support Pres. Trump, flee to the Democrats in the upcoming midi-terms, or hold our nose and vote GOP.
Matters of Faith and Politics
There are multiple schools of thought among devout evangelicals about the relationship between faith and backing a political candidate. In St. Paul, Minnesota, members of the First United Church of Christ were recently polled about their values and the current president.
Some members of the congregation say that the Good Book is not a policy manual and that political figures should be considered as individuals.
Some also say that the two major parties repeatedly attempt to hijack Christians through political promises. Republicans successfully made a concerted effort to align themselves with Evangelicals during the last several election cycles. To that end, some express that a double-standard now exist that Republicans, such as Pres. Trump, are being given a pass on transgressions such as the Stormy Daniels allegations.
Pastor Joe Rigney, at St. Paul’s Cities Church, reportedly agrees that the president’s Christian-friendly policies could prompt voters of faith to use a lower standard with regard to certain candidates.
“I fear that if the letter after his name was any different, the conduct would be absolutely beyond the pale,” Pastor Rigney reportedly said.
With the rise of secularism and the marginalization of American Christian voices in Washington, the Baptist pastor reportedly said, “Many evangelicals have felt that pressure and said, ‘I don’t care who defends us as long as somebody defends us.’”
This line of thinking has led many to embrace Pres. Trump despite his alleged moral shortcomings. Numerous prominent church leaders have taken a position of strength with regards to Pres. Trump. Given that he rekindled his faith on the campaign trail with many noting his born again status, Liberty University Pres. Jerry Falwell Jr. and Franklin Graham have remained ardent supporters.
Falwell is on record saying that Pres. Trump ““has done more for evangelicals than any other president.” Graham goes even further in his support, saying, “I believe he’s president of the United States for a reason. I believe God put him there.”
Reconciling Support for Pres. Trump
There are two common lines of thinking that evangelicals point to when professing support for Pres. Trump.
The first is that as Christians we do not engage in the judgment of others. We recognize that no one is without sin. As flawed people, there will always be a gap between the pristine moral entities we strive to be and the human frailties that cause all to falter. As Jesus notably said in John 8:7, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
Beyond the teachings of the Gospel, we are fully aware that the president is part of the church and has our best interests in mind. Even after the Stormy Daniels outbreak, Pew Research studies indicate steady evangelical support. Pew data indicated that Pres. Trump earned 81 percent of evangelical voters in the November 2016 election and his approval rating remains relatively unchanged post-Stormy.
The president’s Teflon ability to remain untarnished by controversy likely trails back to his repeated executive orders supporting religious freedom, close alignment with faith leaders and appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Simply put, Pres. Trump delivered on his promises to the faithful.
A Reckoning Approaches
Prominent faith leaders have already called for a significant meeting with the president. Approximately 1,000-strong plan to gather in Washington, D.C., in June and meet with the president on a wide range of topics. The Stormy allegations are expected to be a topic of discussion, as well as furthering religious liberty. Whether the president will be called out on his personal indiscretions remains to be seen.
But clearly, reconciling Donald J. Trump the man with Pres. Trump and his pro-Christian policies continues to be a leap of faith for some of us.
~ Christian Patriot Daily