Evangelicals for Donald Trump Lost Their Values Long Ago
Last week Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, asked New York Times‘ readers an important question: have evangelicals who support Trump lost their values?
In the opinion piece, Moore describes the blustering bigoted presidential candidate as a “Bronze Age warlord” who “built his career off gambling, a moral vice and an economic swindle that oppresses the poorest and most desperate.” He points to Trump’s trivialization of communion with comments about “my little cracker” as a way to ask forgiveness and reminds readers that Trump doesn’t think evangelical missionaries should be treated for Ebola in the United States.
“Jesus taught his disciples to ‘count the cost’ of following him,” writes Moore. “We should also count the cost of following Donald Trump. To do so would mean that we’ve decided to join the other side of the culture war, the image and celebrity and money and power and socialist Darwinist ‘winning’ trump the conservation of moral principles and a just society.”
Moore raises an important point: evangelicals who support Trump aren’t voting with their values. But this isn’t anything new. Many evangelicals joined the other side of the culture war before Trump razzle dazzled them with his headlines and bouncy toupee.
After the 2013 mid-term election, Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition released a poll showing that conservative Christians represented a third of the electorate and over half of total Republican voters. “This is not only the largest single constituency in the electorate,” Reed said, “but it is larger than the African-American vote, the Hispanic vote, the union vote, and the gay vote combined.”
And who did these conservative Christians elect? Any candidate running on the Republican ticket. These candidates who shout their religious devotion while undermining God’s creation and access to affordable health care don’t represent Christian values. They simply know what headlines and talking points they need in order to get elected. Are conservative Christians counting the cost of following these politicians too?
Fortunately, there’s a growing movement among evangelicals to make the connection between Christian values and environmentalism. Leaders like Rev. Mitch Hescox of the Evangelical Environmental Network encourage conservative Christian politicians to care for the unborn, children, and the poor by passing environmental regulations to protect drinking water and clean air. These religious leaders have not been taken in by the golden idols of cameras, flashing lights, tweets, and toupee.
Unfortunately, these leaders face constant attack by misleading “Christian” campaigns funded by special-interest groups like The Heartland Institute and Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. These groups even have the audacity to call Pope Francis a liar.
Moore is right. Evangelicals who support Trump have lost their Christian values. But evangelicals who support any candidate who doesn’t care for the poor, the sick, the vulnerable, and God’s creation have lost their Christian values too.
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