“Dear Evangelical Church” is an article written to the church and not to be confused with today’s “spiritualized politics” which dictates someone’s eternal dwelling place of heaven or hell based solely on who they have voted for and or support. The excuse of “not voting for a pastor in chief” but a president and then spiritualizing and defending at every turn the vile lies and actions of said president lacks any substance of spiritual maturity or discernment. Then we have the vilification of believers by believers who do not support the same political views. What has happened to the church? We encourage everyone who reads this article to please leave your personal politics out of it and read it from a purely Christian/spiritual perspective. Also note that any comments that are laden with political bents rather than from a spiritual perspective will not be approved. Truly we need a wake up call within the confines of the church walls, pews and pulpits.
I remember when I was a teenager, growing up in the evangelical church in the 1990’s during the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal. You taught me a lot about the character that needs to be required of the leaders of our nation. The perjury was a big deal, but the adultery was an even bigger deal.
“If a leader can’t keep the most sacred vows you can make on this earth, to be faithful to his wife, what makes you think he won’t lie to you?”
I knew that there was a lot of truth in that statement. I’ve even repeated that same line a time or two. And I still believe it.
You see, a lot of people my age who grew up in the church have come to terms with the fact that their church experience growing up may have damaged them in some significant ways. Whether it was spiritual, physical or even sexual abuse, or if it was emotional manipulation, a lot of people have wished their childhood was different.
Not me. I had a great experience growing up in church. I believe a lot of who I am today is because of the people who invested in me. Pastors. Sunday School teachers. Even friends. You taught me a lot, things I still believe today. And to this day I consider myself theologically Evangelical.
And that’s why these past five years have been so confusing to me. I’ve tried to understand why the Evangelical church is Donald Trump’s largest support base. When I look back at all the things I was taught, from the time I was in the church nursery until I graduated seminary, I just can’t reconcile what I was taught with what I’m seeing and hearing. I don’t recognize the love and biblical teaching I saw when I was a child. And you, Evangelical church, have turned on me for not falling in line. So this is why I’m writing this letter – so you can understand why I simply cannot support Donald Trump.
Back to the Clinton scandal, I still believe you were right. If you can’t keep the most solemn vow we can make in this life, why should anyone trust you? Especially if it’s happened three times? And with Trump, it wasn’t done in secret, in shame. He bragged about it in his books. For the last five years I’ve heard that Trump “tells it how it is” – but I keep wondering, if his wives can’t trust him, how can I?
Trump has been accused of sexual assault by 26 women. Twenty-six. I understand that politics is dirty. Perhaps stories have been fabricated or embellished. Maybe I could buy that argument if it was one or two accusations. But twenty-six? If you had a pastor at your church who was accused of sexual assault by twenty-six different women, would you believe your pastor’s denials? What if on top of that, he was on tape bragging about how easy it was for him to assault women because of his popularity?
Evangelical church, you taught me about the Fruit of the Spirit. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Gentleness. Faithfulness. Self-Control. And I have to ask – how many of those do you see in Donald Trump? There are moments where he may exhibit one of these characteristics, but I have to admit those moments are very rare. I’d argue the exact opposite is consistently a better description of his behavior.
You taught me to love the Word of God. To memorize it. To allow it to change me. President Trump was asked his favorite bible verse, and he wasn’t able to come up with anything. He said it was too private. He took some flak about it, and when asked a few days later, he said it was the one about ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’ I’m sure you remember Jesus mentioned that one specifically right before he issued a new command. It’s very clear that the president doesn’t even know the basics of the bible. So when I see him fight through a crowd in order to stand in front of a church to do a photo op, it was pretty easy to see he was pandering to you, Evangelical church. I thought that there was no way the church would buy it, but I saw the articles and social media posts extolling Trump’s faith. Church, how does that not anger you to see a politician pander to you by manipulating your faith?
I grew up in the Christian & Missionary Alliance, an Evangelical denomination that prides itself on overseas missions work. And the denomination does great work throughout the world, no doubt. I remember seeing videos of people from dozens and dozens of nations around the world. I remember hearing about God’s love for all people, and even welcoming workers to stay in our home while they visited. Yet our president calls some of them “sh*t hole countries.” He has tried and sometimes succeeded in banning them from coming to our country. I watched a campaign speech last week where he brought up refugees so that the crowd could boo, and said that the democrats were going to let refugees “overrun and destroy” Minnesota. I remember being taught that these
people were loved by God. Not only that, but they’re not just immigrants, they’re refugees, fleeing violence. I understand that decisions have to be made about who can lawfully come to the United States, but does he need to treat them like garbage? Overrun? These are human beings, not cockroaches. Did we spend years giving to the Great Commission Fund so that we could take the gospel to them, provided they don’t try to become our neighbor here in the US?
I saw how the White House banned federal businesses, and any companies that do business with the government, from race-related training training. They’re no longer allowed to have training that includes words like “white privilege,” “systemic racism” or “unconscious bias.” Have we consulted with our black brothers and sisters in Christ on those terms? The statistics are overwhelming – white people have 10x greater wealth, better health outcomes, longer life expectancy, lower incarceration rates, shorter sentences for the same crimes. If God calls us to love all people groups, why are we so terrified to talk about race? Why are we willing to support a president who continues to deny the inequality all around us? I worked on my Master’s degree in Intercultural Studies at YOUR evangelical seminary, and that’s where I learned the most about systemic racism, white privilege, and unconscious bias.
The Evangelical church taught me that life is valuable. As I listened to audio tape of the president tell someone confidentially that the virus was going to be very contagious and deadly, while telling the public that it was the flu and would just go away, it was clear to me that he didn’t care about life. He knew his election relied on a strong economy, and encouraging safety measures would take away his biggest asset for re-election. I watched the president tell our nation that the ‘cure can’t be worse than the disease’ – basically, that people should be willing to die for the economy. That doesn’t seem to square away with what Jesus taught about money. And these last few days, I watched a president with Covid knowingly put those around him at risk, going back to the White House while still infected, taking off his mask, and making his secret service agents drive him around in a closed car so he could wave to his supporters. He’s now planning political rallies while still within the time frame that anyone else would be quarantined.
Now I know what you’re going to say, Evangelical church. What about abortion? You taught me to be against abortion. But as I’ve said above, being pro-life means far more than being anti-abortion. As I’ve written in previous letters, the abortion rate has dropped for the last four decades. When Republicans held the presidency and congress. When Democrats held the presidency and congress. In fact, the biggest drops in abortion rates have happened when Democrats have held the presidency. We’ve had abortion legality dangled in front of us for decades, demanding our loyalty and our votes, and what has it gotten us? It turns out, the economy has a bigger impact on abortion rates than the law. To come beside them and love them so that they don’t feel like they’re on their own if they decide to have their baby. Perhaps, the biggest way we can fight abortion is to fight for affordable healthcare and support for the poor. We keep trying the legal way, yet it doesn’t seem to be having an impact. In fact, church, it was you who taught me true change comes through the heart, not through the law.
A friend recently told me that the Evangelical church’s obsession with abortion reminded him of Jesus being tempted in the desert. Satan promised Jesus all sorts of things, but in each case Satan offered him a shortcut. Turn these stones into bread to solve your hunger problem. Jump off this temple to provide everyone with proof of God. Worship me and everything will be yours. It wasn’t that those things were bad – we know that in time, Jesus will have those things – it’s just that Satan offered a shortcut.
Evangelical church, Donald Trump has provided you a shortcut to what you’ve wanted. The possibility of a conservative Supreme Court that strikes down Roe v. Wade. But all you need to do is sit at the feet of Donald Trump. Support him, even when he assaults women. Support him when he mocks the poor, the disabled. When he uses language that nods at white supremacists. How much of what you taught me are you willing to trade in order to try to overturn roe v. wade? When Trump said he could shoot someone and he wouldn’t lose any voters, perhaps he understood the evangelical church even better than I did. I sure didn’t see this coming.
But the left….but Joe Biden…. I’m not here to defend Joe Biden or the Democrats. They’re politicians like everyone else. They twist things, they lie, they ignore things that are inconvenient to them. But I’m not voting for Joe Biden, I’m voting against Donald Trump. You can vote third-party. You can choose not to even cast a vote for president. While you may be confused at how I can support someone who is pro-choice, I’m just as
confused at how someone can both follow Jesus and support someone who embodies nearly everything that Jesus opposed.
As you can see, I’ve talked very little about policy. Big or small government. Foreign policy. Energy. Taxes. We all have our policy preferences. Truthfully, I’m probably somewhere in the middle when it comes to whether I prefer the policies of Trump or Biden. I’d rather have 100 policies I disagree with than have someone I agree with who treats people like garbage, who calls people losers on a daily basis, who calls for the imprisonment of their political enemies for unknown reasons.
Ultimately, what hurts me the most in all of this is that the church has traded in her witness of Jesus for the witness of Donald Trump. When non-Christians are asked about evangelical Christians, they don’t think of Jesus. They don’t think of loving your neighbor, or even the ten commandments. They think of unwavering support of Donald Trump. Whether you realize it or not, support of Donald Trump likely means an entire generation will not believe that Jesus offers anything other than conservative politics. Historically, one of the primary functions of the church was to speak moral truth to corrupt governments. After years of supporting Donald Trump, why should anyone take us seriously when we object to government action on moral grounds?
Evangelical church, you’ve been wondering how I could abandon everything you’ve taught me. The way I see things, it wasn’t me that changed.