“We must dissent from the poverty of vision and the absence of moral leadership. We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.” – Thurgood Marshall
As someone who once considered himself a born again Christian and studied the Bible from cover to cover, I am both saddened and yet not surprised that fundamentalist evangelical Christians continue to support the presidency of Donald J. Trump, even as they acknowledge his past and current despicable behavior.
The politicizing of religious faith has always been a condition for human suffering. Above all of their commands to make love and tolerance their primary motivation, these virtues will always be undermined by those elements within the faith that limit love and tolerance to an exclusive and rigid set of guidelines. Anyone who does not comfortably sit within those narrow parameters is ostracized and branded as a social pariah.
It was this conflicting set of values that ultimately led to my severing with the institution of Christianity. I was once told by a member of my Methodist congregation that I could not call myself a Democrat AND a Christian, because many Democrats supported abortion.
I was reprimanded by my Bible study leader at one time, telling me that they would not tolerate any position that questioned the Gospels claim to Jesus’ divinity. And when I challenged the pastor’s authority to prevent a new member’s child from going on a church ski trip because she had been associated with others who smoked pot, one of whom was the pastor’s own daughter, I was charged with allowing Satan to influence my motivations.
It didn’t matter that I had led a bible study group for those incarcerated in our local jail or that I worked several months a year for five years chairing and actively engaging community resources for a Christmas Toy Store our church had organized years ago to bring a little joy into the lives of children in low income families.
The only thing that seems to matter for many orthodox Christians today, as opposed to their earlier views, is that their political leaders do all they can to stop the abortions of unwanted pregnancies, even in cases of rape and incest. They are engaging in a Faustian bargain to forego their higher moral code for Trump’s willingness to appoint pro-life judges as they dismiss his violation to his oath of office and his never ending unsavory character.
Though some Christians have bravely spoken out in favor of Trump’s removal from office, even believing as many Republicans claim that “Democrats have had it out for him from day one”, they none the less see his actions regarding the Ukrainian quid pro quo as a threat to our Constitution that asserts no one is above the law.
Pro-life advocate Paul D. Miller who called for Trump’s conviction and removal stated that if the GOP-controlled Senate acquits Trump, which will likely happen, it “would mean that, over time, a future president can abuse his power, obstruct justice, commit perjury, profit from office, defy Congress, ignore subpoenas, … and disregard truth with impunity, firm in the knowledge that he faces no accountability, no check, no balance, no consequence, and no higher law.”
In his farewell op-ed as Christianity Today’s outgoing editor in chief, Mark Galli implored evangelicals to, “Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior.”
Their failure to do so will not only further erode Christianity’s moral foundation but will have the propensity to cancel out what many of them voted for Trump in the first place – their belief that he would “make America great again”.