The Problem with Evangelicalism and Politics

The latest revelation of the deplorable character of Donald J. Trump reminds us of the problem with conservative evangelicalism and politics: the latter always taints the former. Yes, Trump uttered those disgustingly misogynistic words back in 2005. Yes, that was eleven years ago. But note this: Trump, within the last year, informed the public that he has never asked God for forgiveness because he has never done anything wrong -- nothing worthy for which to ask God forgiveness. (link) Really? Nothing?

Fret not, conservative evangelical Christians, for your trustworthy evangelical brothers have put their stamp of godly approval upon Mr. Trump so that you can vote for him! Sadly, some of you are just naïve enough to follow these blind guides of the blind. (cf. Matt 15:14) Have no fear, friends, for I, too, was once duped into the same spiritual manipulation by these ministerial masters of deception. So, let us recall by name the "spiritual leaders" of the foul-mouthed, foul-hearted, foul-natured Donald J. Trump:

  • James Dobson (Nazarene)
  • Jerry Falwell, Jr. (Southern Baptist)
  • Richard Land (Southern Baptist)
  • Paula White (Charismatic/Word of Faith)
  • Kenneth and Gloria Copeland (Charismatic/Word of Faith)
  • James Robison (Charismatic/Life Outreach)
  • Ronnie Floyd (Southern Baptist)
  • Robert Jeffress (Southern Baptist)
  • David Jeremiah (Southern Baptist)
  • Jack Graham (Southern Baptist)
  • James MacDonald (Calvinist/Independent/Charismatic)
  • Michele Bachmann (Charismatic/Republican Congresswoman)
  • Ralph Reed (Faith and Freedom Coalition leader appointed by Pat Robertson)
  • Robert Morris (Charismatic)
  • Jentezen Franklin (Charismatic) 

I did not list every advisor. At least three people on this list include the Who's Who of veritable heretics (e.g., Paula White, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland)! Two men I respect are included on this list: James Robison and Jentezen Franklin. I will grant them the benefit of the doubt that they, too, have fallen for the conservative evangelical lie: that a vote for Donald J. Trump as a Republican is tantamount to a vote for a pro-life candidate -- that is, in spite of the fact that Trump has mostly been pro-choice, and that he changed his views on the subject five different times within a three-day period. He wants your vote.

We might as well add Franklin Graham to the list of individuals who will be voting for Trump, even though he has not publicly endorsed him, though he might as well endorse him given his constant anti-Hillary Clinton campaign and the fact that he vows to always vote pro-life. In each election cycle Graham tells people, in cry-wolf fashion, that this election is the most important election of our lifetime. (link) He also tells Christians to "vote the Bible," which is conservative evangelical code for "vote Republican." Who does the man think he's fooling? This election cycle Graham is noted as informing the public to vote "the least heathen of the two" candidates. We must, then, vote for Hillary Clinton!

No, we are not voting for a Sunday School teacher, as Trump Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski reminded the public on CNN after the audio clip of Trump from 2005 mouthing off about his adulterous heart and his overtly misogynistic views was leaked to the public. But the elections are never about voting for a godly individual; elections are about voting for a leader of this country. So, we have to ask ourselves, with regard to Donald J. Trump, if we want an overly-emotional man-child leader who demeans and degrades women, views Mexicans as rapists and drug-pushers, and thinks every Muslim is a terrorist.

Worse, though, is that Donald Trump's attempt at an apology demonstrates a rather disturbing reality: he is guilty of the exact same cognitive distortions as sex offenders. In sex offender therapy, men are taught about cognitive distortions, erroneous patterns of thinking that instrumentally led them into their sexual offense cycle. These include minimizing the offense and blaming others by deflecting. Notice what Trump stated: 1) that was just "locker room banter" is minimizing the blatant offense of the degrading of women; 2) "Bill Clinton has said worse to me" is minimizing the offense and blaming Bill Clinton by deflection; 3) "I'm sorry if anyone was offended" is not an apology -- that is tantamount to saying, "I'm sorry that you were offended." Notice that this so-called apology is not about him, and his wicked actions, but about you -- the alleged offended. He refuses to own his errors because he is a prideful narcissist.

Cal Thomas, former leader of the failed right-wing Moral Majority movement, confesses that when people attempt to marry religion to politics, the power of politics wins, to the detriment of religion.1 Thomas co-wrote a book with Ed Dobson, titled, Blinded by Might: Can the Religious Right Save America?, the answer to which is no, as Dobson notes in a blurb on the back cover: "The Christian Coalition reduces the Christian faith to a series of political positions, and that is the equivalent of theological heresy."

This is exactly what the likes of Franklin Graham are guilty of accomplishing: the promotion of a religio-politico movement that resembles more the religio-politico government from which the forefathers of this nation fled England. Graham and his ilk are guilty of nothing less than spiritual and political manipulation. Do not allow conservative evangelicals to deceive you into thinking that voting Republican is voting for Christian values, Christian morals, and is the Christian way to vote. Jesus is not a Republican. I will allow Cal Thomas to conclude this post: "Registering people to vote and persuading them to vote a certain way on issues and for certain candidates is one way power can be used to manipulate."2

1 Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson, Blinded by Might: Can the Religious Right Save America? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 49.

2 Ibid., 53.


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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.