On Tuesday, 81% of American Christians gave their vote to Donald Trump for the presidential election. Despite his clear lack of Biblical understanding (e.g., taking “Two Corinthians” out of context to appeal to Liberty University students), his strong opposition to the Levitical concept of welcoming the foreigner (Lev. 19:34), and an ego perhaps only parallel to Haman from the book of Esther, Trump essentially won the Christian vote—not slightly, but by far.
Yet the bulk of what Donald Trump stands for is almost entirely opposite of Biblical values. So how did he get 81% of the evangelical vote?
Here’s a few ideas.
- Some Christians only voted for him because he’s pro-life. The sad irony is, abortion rates have shown no overall correlation with the president’s party; rather, it has been on a slow but steady decline since the 80s. In fact, the only significant drop in abortion rates over one presidential term was during Bill Clinton’s time in office, and the only significant spike in abortions since the initial decline was during George H. W. Bush’s presidency (compare raw abortion statistics with presidents in office each year). Still, because of the strong conviction that an embryo is a living human from the moment of conception, Christians feel repelled at the suggestion of supporting a candidate that acts otherwise.
- Some Christians only voted for him because they are Republican. This shouldn’t be taken for granted. In 2014, Christians made up 82% of the Republican Party (63% for the Democratic). I won’t try to explain why that might be, but it’s clear that the Republicans have the majority. And because of that, they’ll vote for the candidate that represents their political stance.
- Some Christians might actually like his assertive approach. Jesus was pretty blunt sometimes. (Now mind you, Jesus didn’t brag about sexual assault, make fun of disabled persons, ban people of other religious beliefs from His presence, or interrupt the Pharisees 51 times in their first debate…but yeah, sure, He was a straightforward guy. [My only venting comment, complete. Carry on.] ) This sudden appreciation for brash speech is most likely reactionary to “PC culture” that has developed over recent years. Trump’s bold and pointed approach makes him relatable as a person, something his opposition couldn’t seem to attain. With relatability comes familiarity, and with familiarity comes trust.
Regardless of the reasons behind evangelical support for Donald Trump, no Bible-saturated Christian can textually support the president-elect as being representative of most Christian values. Imagine Trump and Jesus Christ spending time together. Would Trump humbly nod in agreement to Christ’s charge to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” (Mark 12:17)? To “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44)? Would he find comfort or fear in the parable of the religious leader and the thief, in which the religious leader was condemned for his pride and the thief forgiven because of his humility (Luke 18:9-14)?
I want to make this message clear to my non-religious friends who are repulsed by the evangelical vote: this man is not representative of the Christian faith. There were many factors influencing the evangelical vote, but I can’t imagine there was any Trump supporter hoping for his election on the basis of his godliness.
Finally, a reminder to my religious friends, particularly those frustrated with the results: Jesus was most definitely not an advocate of racism. He did not promote phobias of any religious or social group; He did not encourage ethnocentrism. There was, however, a relevant mindset that Jesus did advocate for: respect for governmental authority. This is a common theme with Paul as well (e.g., 1 Peter 2:13-17). Perhaps intentionally, in one instance Paul groups it with showing respect for all people, including those who disagree with your point of view: “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (2:17). If you are concerned that the new president-elect gives a poor name to Christianity, you have all the more incentive to pursue being a pure representative of Jesus’ love. “We are Christ’s ambassadors” (2 Cor. 5:20); let us fill the role honorably as we strive desperately to emanate the love of God.