“When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
And while Donald Trump said this of women, it’s been more true of his relationship with the Religious Right.
In short, Donald Trump has treated the bride of Christ just like the other married women in that disgusting audio recording. Yet unlike more honorable brides, some evangelical leaders have done nothing to resist his self-serving advances.
This, indeed, is a profound mystery. But I am talking about Trump and the church.
To be honest, I thought I’d written my last post on this subject.
Then came the audio of Trump bragging about his sexual assaults. And yes, that is the proper word for it (You just “Grab them by the p—y; you can do anything!”).
So here we are. Once more unto the breach.
In past posts (for newcomers):
- I lamented the fact that democracy gives you the candidates you deserve (here);
- I predicted that despite playing coy initially, evangelicals would ultimately flock to Trump (here) like moths to an orange and hairspray-fueled flame.
- And I argued that choosing the “lesser of two evils” is not always a rule to live by (here).
- I’ve also made it clear, that I am no fan of Trump’s main opponent.
- And I suggested (here) that, for me personally, focusing my voting energy on local and statewide issues is a solution to the high-stakes game of “Would you rather…?” that is the Presidential race.
Along slightly different lines, I also appreciated my pastor’s wise advice to think for yourself, to think biblically, and to vote accordingly.
This post, however, is about a different topic.
THE “RELIGIOUS LIBERTY” ARGUMENT
As many of my Christian friends more-or-less concede, Donald Trump is a lecherous braggart with no serious proposals, the temperament of a toddler, and a penchant for racism and misogyny.
But… they say… We still must vote for him, because if we don’t, we’ll lose our religious liberties. And that “trumps” everything.
I respect people who say this.
And indeed, one of the things I like about academics is that we often disagree (even in print), not because we dislike one another, but because critique brings clarity, and that helps us all.
In fact, amongst esteemed professors, the way you honor someone is to gather their friends from around the globe, and publically critique their work. 🙂
And while that may seem strange, there is something beautiful about it too, because it says that even severe disagreement need not sever friendship.
(Now back to the issue.)
THE GRAIN OF TRUTH
As best I can tell, the logic of the “religious liberty” argument runs as follows:
Christianity is under attack. And if we don’t elect this admittedly horrible person, we will face further marginalization in the future.
(Note: I toned down the prior sentence in the editing process. Originally, it read: “orange-tinted sexual predator,” but I will not say that. Many others are saying it. I will not.)
And to be honest, there are bits of the religious liberty narrative to which I’m somewhat sympathetic.
It concerns me that our culture has confused “tolerance” with “agreement” (see here). And there are some areas in which liberty has been eroded.
The problem, however, is not just that the threat is sometimes exaggerated.
The deeper issue is the assumption that Christians should publicly join themselves with truly horrible individuals (and ideas) in exchange for promised “favors.”
That’s not prophetic witness. It’s closer to prostitution.
THE EVANGELICAL FUTURE
And my fear, which is rapidly materializing, is that American evangelicalism will suffer permanent damage for its shameful part in Trump’s doomed and degenerate campaign.
Here are just a few:
- We will increasingly be seen as a “White’s only” movement – and if you don’t believe that, just ask my black and Latino students.
- We will increasingly be known as a misogynistic movement, which has been a concern already, given the way certain evangelicals have tried to keep women from serving in leadership roles.
- And we will increasingly be an “over sixty” movement, because one needs only to look at the Stats to see that my own generation has little stomach for Trump, or for those who try to force us into supporting him in the name of Jesus.
White guys. Over sixty.
That is not the kingdom of God.
But it is in danger of becoming “American evangelicalism.”
MY PERSONAL OPINION
So what’s my personal answer to the religious liberty argument?
Here it is:
As a Christian, and a father of two girls, I would rather lose every shred of my religious freedom than align myself with this truly vile human being.
In fact, I would rather have Christianity assailed from without (by liberalism) than corrupted from within.
As history shows, we can survive being marginalized. We can even survive persecution (though the “p-word” is sometimes overused by the Religious Right).
But we cannot so easily survive brazen complicity with the worst elements of human behavior. Nor do we deserve to.
So, yes, I still care deeply about abortion, the supreme court, religious liberty, and everything else.
But as Christ’s bride, I will not be treated like that married woman who Trump took “furniture shopping” in an effort to buy her body.
I did try and f— her. She was married. And I moved on her very heavily.
Some things are more important than “furniture.”
And some things are more important than political favors.
That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.
Now a brief addition to the original post to address a common critique:
I should probably clarify at this point, what I am NOT saying. I am not saying (as some seem to think) that we, as Christians should simply “give away” our liberties or treat them lightly (Thus, the intentional use of the word “lose” instead of “give” in my admittedly hyperbolic title).
Since true liberties are given by God, they should not be encroached upon by anyone. Period. Nor should they be “given up” without right resistance. I’m not proposing that we stop caring about religious liberty–in fact, I explicitly state that I do care about it, and that there are areas of concern.
What I am saying is that the church should stay true to Christ and his values (which, for me, means saying “No” to both candidates). And if that means having to face further marginalization in the future, then we must face that also by staying true to Christ.
Nothing is gained by linking arms with a truly destructive and dangerous candidate simply because he promises certain favors to one particular group. In sum, I do not think this is a particularly controversial idea and there is ample precedent for it in the Scriptures.
15 thoughts on “Why I’d rather lose my religious liberty than vote for Donald Trump”
Thanks for the kind words Jess. And it’s a good question.
My linked post on the “lesser of two evils” fallacy addresses that. In short, I reject the common assumption that one must always choose one of the two major options. Normally, I do that, but in this year I’ll vote for neither. Instead, I’ll be writing someone in, and focusing on state and local issues. That’s where I have the most influence anyway. Oklahoma isn’t exactly a swing state.
I haven’t talked with Everett on this particular post (he’s on sabbatical), but he’s always been supportive of my attempts to think Christianly on tough topics.
Thanks for reading! Blessings on your ministry!
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I would love to write some in too. But I was curious how you are going to do that in Oklahoma?
That’s a good point Mark; I hadn’t looked into OK’s rules on that. I may have to bring a post-it note 🙂 Thanks for reading
Good post, thanks for making clear arguments. I would encourage you to consider writing in Evan McMullin – https://www.evanmcmullin.com/
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Will do! I’ve heard great things about him.
Thanks 🙂 Love seeing the pics of your beautiful family on the FB.
Thanks Kaleigh; appreciate you guys!
Thanks Robert. And thanks for reading.
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Thanks for reading Shawn. I respect your opinion and the respectful tone in which it comes. I’ve been clear that I won’t be supporting Hillary, and I would never encourage passivity. I just think there is more than one way to contribute to redemptive change. Thanks for reading!
Thanks for reading James; I’ve been quite clear that I won’t support Hillary (see my mention of that in the article, linked to another post of mine). This post is focused on Trump and the Religious Right. If that group were turning a blind eye to Hillary’s behavior, I’d speak out just as strongly. Still, I appreciate your input.
Thanks for reading (On a side note, I checked out your page and you are quite the blogger; much respect for that).
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Be sure to tell Kelvin Cochran, the former fire chief in Atlanta who lost not only his religious liberty, but also his livelihood, his pension, and his reputation, that the threat is “nonexistent.” His crime was writing a study guide for his off-hours Bible study that referred to homosexual sex as sexual sin, consistent with his religious beliefs. He was suspended, then fired… solely because of his deeply-held religious beliefs.
Or try to tell Baronelle Stutzman, the Washington state florist who served gay clients for years but balked at participating with her talent in a gay marriage, that she hasn’t lost “some sort of Constitutionally-guaranteed freedom.” She lost her livelihood, her house, her life savings, and was threatened with jail time for defending her right to believe that marriage is a special, sanctified and holy union of one man and one woman – a reflection of the union between Christ and His church.
These are just two examples of egregious state action that not only ruins people’s lives merely because they hold religious beliefs antithetical to the state’s, but also has a chilling effect on others who might want to live out their faith in the future. Other examples, from Colorado, New Mexico and California to Iowa and Massachusetts are too numerous to mention.
College students have lost their right to speak their religious beliefs on campus for fear of reprisal from overly hostile faculties. Pastors are threatened by laws in Iowa and Massachusetts that threaten jail time and fines for those who express fidelity to their Christian beliefs from the pulpit if those beliefs countermand the state’s progressive, secular orthodoxy. The loss of religious liberty is real and is expanding at an alarming rate. Christians have been told to toe the official state-authorized line or be prepared to suffer a loss the state deems to be an appropriate sanction.
Oh, and by the way, the liberties granted all U.S. citizens are not “some sort of Constitutionally-guaranteed freedom.” They are specific individual freedoms that are codified in our supreme governing document, which are endowed to us by our Creator and are not to be infringed by any governmental action.
I agree with pretty much everything you say here David. In the post, I note being concerned about such encroachments. I’m not sure why some seem to think that I don’t believe in the problem. There seems to be a misunderstanding that I am saying religious liberty isn’t an extremely important issue. I believe it is. I’m merely saying that if faced with the choice between violating my deepest Christian principles (which I would personally have to do to vote for Trump) or facing the threat of increased societal marginalization, I would have to go with staying to true to my principles. I think this is why in the last few days, more and more evangelicals have begun to rescind their endorsements of Trump, or at least become more vocal in denouncing him. It’s not that they don’t care about religious liberty, it’s just that they have decided that they cannot support someone solely on the grounds that he promises more religious liberty. Does that make sense?
Thanks Grandpa Paul, I’ve tried to be clear that I cannot vote for Hillary either. I do still plan to vote, however, as I mention in the piece. As I say, I respect people who decide to vote for Trump. I just can’t do it. I also care deeply about religious liberty; I just have to stick to my principles in saying no to Trump, even if that means I may face more marginalization in the future. I hope you understand. I’m just trying to think critically and biblically about a tough issue.
Yes Douglas, sadly I cannot vote for either. But I will still vote, in an effort to influence whatever other races/issues I can.
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