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Donald Trump & The Evangelical

By Terri Sloan 

One year ago, almost to the day, Dana Carvey said in an interview with Jimmy Fallon, “I’m not saying I want Donald Trump to be president, but I never want to live in a world where Donald Trump isn’t running for president.” And I laughed. That was the funniest thing to me at the time. I mean, Dana Carvey is a funny guy, but the closer Donald Trump has gotten to the White House, the less funny that has become.  And right now, it’s not funny at all. Somewhere between Taco Trucks on Every Corner and Billy Bush on the Bus, I stopped laughing.

I am an Evangelical Republican Conservative Christian. Or, at least, I was.

Donald Trump’s journey toward the White House has been intensely personal for me.  I live in a rural area in the south and virtually everyone I know has been sticking with Trump, either willingly or reluctantly. Here in rural America, there’s no contest.  Conservative and Alt Right news organizations have convinced my church friends, my colleagues, and most of my family that (A.) Hillary is a corrupt criminal, and (B.) Trump is the only possible solution to all that is wrong with America.

If you live in a diverse metropolitan area, you may know a Trump supporter or two.  There may not even be a few people in your inner circle who support Trump.  Which means you can make fun of and laugh about the crazy rednecks down south who wave the confederate flag and want to lock Hillary up.  Even when I watch Trump campaign news coverage, I sometimes forget that those people aren’t the only ones who are supporting Trump. The Trump supporters I know are regular folks and people I love.

Evangelicals want a Republican President in the White House.  They say the Republican platform most closely aligns with their ideals:  Republicans promise to reverse Roe v Wade. Republicans promise to restore family values. Republicans promise religious freedom.  There are many others planks in the Republican platform that they may or may not agree with, but let’s take a closer look at these three.

Roe v Wade. Let me start by saying I am profoundly pro-life.  I’ll say it again.  I am pro-life.  So this is a tough issue for me, and I know this is the deal breaker for many of my Evangelical friends.  For fifty years, pro-life advocates have stuck with Republicans who have promised to address this one issue.  Abortion has been the center of pro-life politics and, for many, the one thing.  But in 50 years, how much legislation has been  genuinely affected by the Republican promise makers?  Is Donald Trump going to be the one who affects change? Do we really believe electing someone whose lifestyle we completely disagree with is going to bring about the change we want? Rather than expecting elected officials to change laws, what if we get out and minister to women in need? Educate the uneducated? Care for mothers and babies? Find other ways to support pro-life values besides a vote?

Family Values. Here is where I break with Evangelicals and, in fact, this was a turning point for me.  Three years ago the Chick-Fil-A founder, S. Truett Cathy, made public comments opposing gay marriage. When gay activists picketed Chick-Fil-A in response, Evangelicals turned out en masse to buy chicken sandwiches and waffle fries in solidarity with Cathy.  I was right there in the midst that day and I have since regretted it. Even though our chicken consumption was a peaceful protest, our loud and obnoxious campaigning against gay rights has been an affront of the church to gay people.  Shame on us. Why do we want our government to legislate how others live their lives? God has commanded us to love His people, not force them to be like us. Jesus never said to legislate people into Biblical compliance.

Religious Freedom. This one really gets me.  Christians want religious freedom.  I’ve heard more than one of my Evangelical, Trump supporting, friends say this out loud. “Trump will ensure our religious freedoms.”  Here’s the truth: Evangelicals want Evangelical Christian Religious Freedom.  Maybe the Catholics can have some religious freedom, probably not the Mormons, but there will be no Muslim religious freedom.  What Evangelical Christians seem to want is a giant United States Christian Church; everyone living the same, believing the same, singing Kumbaya together, the same…  This is not authentic Christian liberty.

There are many God fearing, Jesus loving, Christians out there who are not voting for Trump.  Regardless of what is said on Facebook. Regardless of what is said from the pulpit. Regardless of what is reported from Fox News and other Alt Right sites, voting for Trump is not the only option for Evangelicals. In my opinion, for Evangelicals, voting for Trump is not an option at all.

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