Evangelicals should dissociate from President Trump. Better late than never
By René Breuel, Evangelical Focus
For many Christians outside the United States, American Evangelicals’ unwavering support for President Trump is bewildering.
How can fellow followers of Jesus excuse a political leader who regularly lies, who uses his Twitter account to bully citizens, and who has been accused of sexual assault and of covering up affairs with porn stars?
The Trump-Evangelical association has become even more problematic now that the American president has been impeached for abusing his power to enlist foreign help against a domestic rival.
Some believers celebrate the benefits of a transactional alliance with Trump, such as conservative judicial appointments and tough talk about abortion and religious liberty.
But the damage done to our credibility as a moral voice outweighs any short-term political advantage.
Evangelicals need to rescue their religion from the tentacles of politics. As bad as Trump is, I hear my American friends sometimes say, the alternative is worse.
But I’m not advocating for the Democratic Party or its eventual 2020 nominee. To think that if we’re not for Trump then we’re for the Democrats is a false dichotomy.
Evangelicals should cultivate instead prophetic distance that distinguishes the gospel from ideologies of both left and right. The good news of Jesus is neither conservatism nor progressivism.
Christians should certainly vote and stay engaged politically. We love our neighbors and work for the common good of our countries. And we do that, in part, by calling our rulers to high standards.
Like Nathan who denounced King David for his sin, Christians should not excuse misbehavior but be ready to challenge it, especially in the politicians we are associated with in the public eye.
America’s leading evangelical magazine, Christianity Today, has courageously published an editorial calling for Trump’s removal from office that affirms,
“The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral”.
If, for instance, the black community did not acquiesce to Obama’s every proposal just because he was a black president, and Obama reacted to his constituents, why should we remain gullible of Trump?
President Trump responded on Twitter with characteristic mockery and self-exaltation:
“A far left magazine, or very “progressive,” as some would call it, which has been doing poorly and hasn’t been involved with the Billy Graham family for many years, Christianity Today, knows nothing about reading a perfect transcript of a routine phone call and would rather… have a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your President”.
“No President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it’s not even close. You’ll not get anything from those Dems on stage. I won’t be reading ET again!”
What if more Evangelicals became vocally critical of Trump instead of excusing his flaws? If, for instance, the black community did not acquiesce to Obama’s every proposal just because he was a black president, and Obama reacted to his constituents, why should we remain gullible of Trump?
Evangelicals’ reputation as a loyal Trump base is tragic to our cause not just in America, but everywhere the gospel of Jesus starts to be confused with nationalism, racism, sexism, and hypocrisy.
That’s why Evangelicals should be vocal critics of President Trump. We cannot let our faith collapse into a political choice. We cannot let the gospel of Christ be equated with Trumpism.
We have a sovereign, a King of kings, who is so much worthier of our allegiance.
René Breuel is pastor of an Evangelical church in Rome, Italy.
Photo by Gage Skidmore