Donald Trump, Evangelicals, and Why We Really Need a New Spirituality


Despite some conservative Christian leaders pleading with fellow evangelicals to reject him at the polls, Donald Trump still won a plurality of born-again Christian votes on Super Tuesday—in Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia and weeks earlier in South Carolina and Nevada. At Regent University, Pat Robertson welcomed him to a campaign visit by saying, “You inspire us all” (3:02 in video). In January, Jerry Falwell, Jr. endorsed him.

Thrice married Donald Trump is the most arrogant candidate with the rottenest fruit of the spirit. He endorses torture, wants to bomb the sh*t out of ISIS, says he’ll block all Muslims from entering the country, shuns refugees, is known for racist, sexist, and bigoted remarks, admits he’s dedicated his life to the pursuit of wealth, and once confessed he has never asked God for forgiveness. So how is it he’s largely winning the evangelical vote!? 

First, it only reinforces the point I make in my new book why America desperately needs a new spirituality. Second, the reason Trump attracts the Religious Right (with exceptions, of course) isn’t because people see his Christian values and Christ-like personality (they don’t). Or that he thinks the Iraq war was a grave mistake (they support him in spite of that). The reason is because much of Evangelicalism is deluded by a pseudo spirituality that sees almost everything in terms of political power. I get this from 25 years first-hand experience when I used to be an evangelical. Due to their fear of losing the culture war and their persecuted, victim mentality (looking for scapegoats), many evangelicals have abandoned Jesus’ call to change the world through sacrificial love. They have chosen to believe that change (not change that makes the world a better place but change that makes the world follow religious laws) can only come through political opportunism and what some call dominion theology: Christ’s return is our only hope and he will return only when Christians take dominion over all areas of society.

In a season where insiders are no longer trusted (Cruz, Rubio), Trump’s brash confidence and claim to be “a strong Christian” is all that is needed to sway the faithful. Trump once said, “We have nobody to represent the Christians. Believe me, if I run and I win, I will be the greatest representative of the Christians they’ve had in a long time.”

But even if evangelicals stuck with the Cruz or Rubio status quo, or another evangelical outsider like Ben Carson, they would still have this sentiment about politics being the answer.

And, of course, Christian politics is not secular. It’s couched in calls for revival and prayer. But it’s not prayer to unite our country (“Lord, help the Republicans and Democrats and conservatives and liberals to work together, find common ground, and agree to disagree agreeably.”) No, it’s rather intercession to either drive out or convert non-evangelicals to the cause and place evangelical-friendly players (Trump), if not pure evangelicals, in places of power. Who cares if they don’t have the fruit of the spirit? They would be in power and on their side and able to fight the evils of our society from abortion to gay marriage to Obamacare to the loss of religious liberty—all in order to “make America great again” (code for returning to biblical values and regaining what has been lost to those nasty liberals and President Obama).

So despite the vehement objections of moderate (even many conservative) Republicans, large blocks of evangelicals support Trump. They appear to have abandoned the core values of Jesus’ teaching (equality, social justice, and love for neighbor and enemy… heck, even simple decency!) and embraced a spirituality of brute political force, all in the name of the Prince of Peace.

To untangle from this mire of irrational, religious thinking, one must find a spirituality of building bridges not walls. One path is through recovering primary facts about “Christian” history. Historically, why are conservative evangelicals wrong about “the culture war?” In my new book, Craft Brewed Jesus, I answer that question. Check out another excerpt here > Why History Matters and learn how discovering lost or forgotten history can inform our modern conversation on faith, culture, and politics.

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