Evangelical Trump Supporters: You Will Have to Answer For This

Conservative columnist David French writes at National Review of the horrific abuse he and his family have experienced at the hands of alt-right internet trolls because of his unwillingness to support Donald Trump.  In French’s profession, one is always going to have to deal with a certain amount of trolling–haters gonna hate, it goes with the territory.  But what is coming from the alt-right trolls who support Donald Trump is unprecedented.  French is not alone; Erick Erickson, Bethany Mandel and many other writers and journalists have had similar experiences.

I’ve said it before and will say it again:  Donald Trump is toxic.  One does not support Donald Trump without becoming likewise contaminated.  His campaign has attracted the support of the worst elements of the lunatic Neo-Nazi fringe and has done nothing whatsoever to disavow it.  If anything Donald Trump seems to be egging them on.  If you support Donald Trump then you are, on some level at least, giving your tacit approval to the scary antics of his jacked-up alt-right supporters.

Look, people:  I know you have strong views about abortion and about Hillary’s policies concerning abortion.  But we are talking about real violence being perpetrated against real people here.  This is sin.  There is no other way to say it.

At what point do we stand up and tell Donald Trump and his Neo-Nazi goons that enough is enough?

As Christians we are called to have nothing whatsoever to do with the deeds of darkness but instead to expose them.  That includes cozying up to those who perpetrate the deeds of darkness–whether it is the violence of words posted on the internet or it is more sinister than that–because their candidate has promised to deliver you Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade.

You don’t need some crazy street preacher to tell you that God hates this.  You already know.

This isn’t rocket science, people.  Some things are just wrong and that’s all there is to it.  If you support Donald Trump then you will have to answer for this.

Worship Singers Needed – Fat People Need Not Apply

Unfortunately I am not making this up.

One of the downsides of contemporary worship in this day and age is this ever-increasingly prevalent expectation that you look the part if you intend to sing on stage.  A non-denominational church out in Oregon has published a set of guidelines for worship team members that takes this tendency and ratchets it up several notches.  It caused quite a stir last week when it appeared on the Stuff Christian Culture Likes Facebook page.

Jonathan Aigner at Ponder Anew has written a piece which is highly critical of the document as well as this unfortunate tendency in evangelical worship at large.  It is very rarely spelled out in excruciating detail as it is at this particular church, but the emphasis on looking the part is very much a part of contemporary evangelical worship, and it has caused tremendous harm to the enterprise of worship in evangelicalism.

Read: Worship Team Wanted: Fat People Need Not Apply by Jonathan Aigner

Morgan Guyton: The Religious Right Needs to Repent, Not Rebrand

Today I wish to direct your attention to a post by Morgan Guyton.  Guyton is a Methodist campus minister in New Orleans, Louisiana, and he blogs at Mercy Not Sacrifice.

In this post Guyton speaks of the religious right.  Over the past three to four decades the religious right has conflated religious faith and political action in ways that all those godless liberal mainlines can only dream of.  It has now come to the point where any sort of dialogue or negotiations with our political opponents is tantamount to apostasy.

But when that Donald Trump video surfaced a couple of weeks back, the religious right became toxic because it was inextricably linked to Donald Trump.  Now evangelical leaders (many of them at least, there are still a few diehards holding out in spite of all good sense) are falling all over themselves to distance themselves from Donald Trump and declare the demise of the religious right, as if they never were a part of it.  But is this for real?  More change is needed, says Guyton, change that demonstrates a true spirit of repentance for all the religious right has done to poison our civil/political discourse and set back the cause of Christ, and not just a slick, strategic pivoting and rebranding.

So when I see religious right leaders pretending like they never were part of the religious right, it makes me very suspicious and cynical. I’ll believe the religious right is dead when I see the Gospel Coalition allow space in its platform for open dialogue with Christians who believe differently. I’ll believe the religious right is dead when Russell Moore sits down with the queer black Christian women who started Black Lives Matter with the expectation that they have something to teach him. I’ll believe the religious right is dead when Al Mohler starts denouncing every lie he encounters about Hillary Clinton simply because he believes in absolute truth. I hope that I’m surprised to find genuine repentance instead of strategic pivoting and rebranding. But I’m not holding my breath.

Read:  The Religious Right Needs to Repent, Not Rebrand by Morgan Guyton

Just Kidding, Says Grudem, I’m Still With Trump

Last week, after shocking video footage surfaced of Donald Trump treating the Access Hollywood tour bus as his own personal locker room, Wayne Grudem pulled his support from Donald Trump and called on him to step aside.  Grudem had been a staunch supporter of Donald Trump; he even wrote a 5,000-word article arguing that you, as a follower of Jesus Christ, have a moral imperative to excuse the inexcusable and defend the indefensible in support of Donald Trump.  It seemed as though Grudem was at last coming to his senses.  But now Grudem has reversed field and is back with Donald Trump.

After I saw the shocking 2005 video with Trump talking about his sexual aggression against women, I wrote, “There is no morally good presidential candidate in this election.” I condemned Trump’s immoral conduct and said I did not know how I would vote. I asked Townhall.com to remove my earlier article, “Why Voting for Donald Trump Is a Morally Good Choice.” I urged Trump to withdraw, hoping we could get a better candidate.

The liberal media loved this. “Evangelical theologian calls on Trump to withdraw.” I suddenly had more requests for interviews from mainstream news organizations than ever in my lifetime. I turned them all down.

And Trump did not withdraw.

Now, how should I vote?

Voting for Clinton and her ultraliberal policies is not an option for me as an evangelical Christian. Therefore I am left with two options: (1) vote for Trump, or (2) vote for a third-party candidate whose hopes of winning belong to fantasy, not reality.

And if these are my only two options, then voting for a third-party candidate has the clear effect of helping to elect Clinton, because it is taking my vote away from Trump. That is why the liberal media loved it when I said I was finding it hard to decide.

It also means that my two options are actually this: (1) vote for Trump, or (2) help Hillary Clinton get elected.

Once I put the choice in those stark terms, there is a good way to make a decision. Since I find both candidates morally objectionable, I am back to the old-fashioned basis on which I have usually decided how to vote for my entire life: Whose policies are better? Do I agree more with Trump’s policies or with Clinton’s?

It isn’t even close. I overwhelmingly support Trump’s policies and believe that Clinton’s policies will seriously damage the nation, perhaps forever. On the Supreme Court, abortion, religious liberty, sexual orientation regulations, taxes, economic growth, the minimum wage, school choice, Obamacare, protection from terrorists, immigration, the military, energy, and safety in our cities, I think Trump is far better than Clinton (see below for details). Again and again, Trump supports the policies I advocated in my 2010 book Politics According to the Bible.

Translation:  (1) I am a Republican.  (2) Hillary is a Democrat.  Therefore, (3) Hillary is the Antichrist, so (4) I’m with Donald Trump.

Look people, I’ve said this before and will say it again:  Donald Trump is an idiot.  He says and does the most spectacularly inane things anytime the cameras are on him.  He has run multiple businesses into the ground.  He has his own ideas about what constitutes good work and whether people should be paid for it, not to mention his own ideas about how much taxes he should have to pay.  He knows less about foreign affairs than your middle-school-aged child, and doesn’t give a shit.  He routinely traffics in the most absurd, bizarre, outlandish conspiracy theories, including that long-debunked yet stubbornly persistent urban myth that vaccines cause autism.  His message is nothing more than anger and hatred for Mexicans, Muslims and other minorities, the dehumanization and objectification of women, and a good hard dose of Donald Trump to solve all the world’s problems.

This man toxic waste dump should never in a million years be allowed within a million miles of the nuclear codes.

Donald Trump is the spoonful of sewage that turns an entire barrelful of wine into sewage.  This candidate is so toxic that one cannot possibly support him without becoming likewise tainted.

And yet, for most of this election cycle at least, evangelicalism has been all over Donald Trump like white on rice.  Why?  Because (1) We’re Republican, (2) Hillary is a Democrat, therefore (3) Hillary is the Antichrist, so (4) We’re with Trump.

It’s all about that Supreme Court majority, baby.  Because only a Supreme court appointed by Donald Trump can protect our cherished Christian values.  Never mind that Donald Trump is the exact opposite of our cherished Christian values.  Never mind that all the horrible things we say about Hillary are a mixture of truth, half-truths and outright lies.  Never mind that we’ve had a Supreme Court majority (or close to it) for the past three to four decades at least and still Roe v. Wade is perfectly intact.  We’re all about that Supreme Court majority so we can make abortion illegal and keep our religious freedom to not do business with queers.

Donald Trump is toxic.  One does not support Donald Trump without becoming likewise contaminated.  The religious right, and a goodly portion of American evangelicalism to boot, are now irreparably tainted as a result.

One does not support Donald Trump without screaming “FUCK YOU” to women, minorities, and others with whom God is manifestly concerned and commands us to show His love.

Mr Grudem:  Go ahead and pull that lever for Donald Trump on November 8.  And then just try and look your female and non-white students in the eye the next day.  Good luck with that.

Every person you will ever come eyeball-to-eyeball with is a person for whom Christ died.  Yet Donald Trump wants us to believe that some of those people count for nothing because they are women or immigrants or minorities.  Grudem wants us to believe that this counts for nothing.  It doesn’t, people.

Ask yourself the question:  What does love require of me?  If you can make a compelling case that what love requires of you is to vote for a candidate whose message is nothing more than anger, hatred, dehumanization and objectification of women, and a sheer, unbridled lust for power, then hey, go do it.  And then look your wife in the eye.  Look your daughter in the eye.  Just try it.

Good luck with that.

Ron Rolheiser: The Struggle to Not Make God Our Own Tribal Deity

Today I wish to direct your attention to a post which I believe is especially timely given the current state of affairs in evangelicalism, especially with respect to the current election cycle.

Rolheiser speaks to a tendency which is common not only in evangelicalism but in virtually all parts of Christianity:  the tendency to insulate ourselves in like-minded communities where we all understand morality the same way, share the same hopes and fears with respect to the outside world, and worship God with the same confidence.  The downside of this is that it takes some painful stretching of the soul before one can accept that God also loves those who do not come from within this bubble and share this way of looking at things.

Those of you who are familiar with liberation theology will recognize the phrase “preferential option for the poor”, the belief (which is native to almost all of liberal Christianity in some form or fashion) that God is present in a special way with minorities, the poor, and anyone else who is on the fringes of or excluded from society at large.  Though a case can be made for this from some sayings of Jesus and from the fact that he prioritized those who were on the outer fringes of the Jewish religious life of his day, the fact remains that there is no special, automatic sanctity for the poor or the marginalized.

Even so, God is immensely concerned with how we treat other people, and especially with how we treat those who are less fortunate than ourselves.  There is a boatload of Scripture to support this.  Every person you will ever come eyeball-to-eyeball with is a person for whom Christ died, including those who do not look like you or think the way you do on the issues that matter to you.  We would all do well to remember this.

Read:  The Struggle to Not Make God Our Own Tribal Deity by Ron Rolheiser

Charisma Magazine: Tim Tebow’s Prayers Stop a Massive Seizure

ICYMI (that’s “In Case You Missed It” for those of you who are not millennials or otherwise familiar with the ways millennials express themselves via texting and social media):  Tim Tebow has signed with the New York Mets and is now attempting to work his way up through their farm system.

After a recent game, Tebow was signing autographs when a fan collapsed from a major epileptic seizure.  Tebow stayed with him and prayed with him until help arrived.

Not content to simply report the story and let an opportunity to promote their theological outlook go by, Charisma jumped all over it:

Tebow sprang into action and laid hands on the man, praying for his healing and comforting him until paramedics arrived.

The violent seizure reportedly stopped moments after Tebow prayed with him. The miraculous healing had many people take to social media expressing their amazement at the power of prayer.

You can read the full story here.

Strategy = Idolatry: Christianity Today Comes Out Against Evangelical Support for Donald Trump

Donald Trump has inexplicably enjoyed tremendous support from evangelicals and evangelical leaders, but in the wake of recently surfaced video footage of Trump making glaringly lewd and misogynistic comments many are starting to reassess.  Andy Crouch at Christianity Today has published an editorial challenging evangelical Trump supporters to “speak truth to Trump“.  Crouch contends that most evangelicals who support Trump do so reluctantly in light of the president’s power to shape the balance of the Supreme Court in such a way as to support our Christian values.  Such voters have made an idol of political strategy:

Most Christians who support Trump have done so with reluctant strategic calculation, largely based on the president’s power to appoint members of the Supreme Court. Important issues are indeed at stake, including the right of Christians and adherents of other religions to uphold their vision of sexual integrity and marriage even if they are in the cultural minority.

But there is a point at which strategy becomes its own form of idolatry—an attempt to manipulate the levers of history in favor of the causes we support. Strategy becomes idolatry, for ancient Israel and for us today, when we make alliances with those who seem to offer strength—the chariots of Egypt, the vassal kings of Rome—at the expense of our dependence on God who judges all nations, and in defiance of God’s manifest concern for the stranger, the widow, the orphan, and the oppressed. Strategy becomes idolatry when we betray our deepest values in pursuit of earthly influence. And because such strategy requires capitulating to idols and princes and denying the true God, it ultimately always fails.

Enthusiasm for a candidate like Trump gives our neighbors ample reason to doubt that we believe Jesus is Lord. They see that some of us are so self-interested, and so self-protective, that we will ally ourselves with someone who violates all that is sacred to us—in hope, almost certainly a vain hope given his mendacity and record of betrayal, that his rule will save us.