Evangelicals cannot support Trump in good conscienceBy Will Sorrell | 01/29/2016 5:38pm
On Tuesday, the president of Liberty University, an evangelical college in Virginia, endorsed Donald Trump for President, and recent polls show that he has the support of 37 percent of GOP evangelicals. This is no longer funny, nor was it ever.
Mr. Trump has made innumerable comments throughout the debate and campaign process in recent months that a sizeable portion of voters on this campus and around the nation have received as inflammatory, inexcusable and downright disturbing. Many, including several that I know within the evangelical community, take no issue with his overall tone and disposition and label him simply as "telling it like it is" or "rhetoric that he doesn’t really mean."
My address today is not to the general voting population. My appeal is not even to the Republican Party itself. My plea is to my fellow evangelicals who claim to taste and see and know an everlasting faith, those who hope and love yet support a megalomaniac who spits in the face of all that we are.
In no way do I wish to deny the pluralism present within the Christian faith: the freedom to disagree over doctrine, denominations and dogma in pursuit of the Triune God. Nevertheless I hold that I overstep no bounds in stating that we as the Church proper are commanded and compelled to be a people advocating and advancing a mission and charge of empathy, forgiveness and civility. Mr. Trump does not stand nor will he ever stand for these core tenets of our faith, so we mustn’t stand with him.
In addition to Mr. Trump’s disheartening view of women--a historically disenfranchised population for whom evangelicals should be advocating more than we are--his comments regarding 3.3 million religious United States citizens are more than simple rhetoric or campaign statements; they are fundamentally appalling.
The media and general public have largely scathed Mr. Trump for his call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, as they should. While he has stated in debates that he has Muslim friends who support this decision, which passes neither the eye test nor the smell test nor any kind of test, we as followers of Christ cannot align with this call for an utter lack of empathy. This sentiment seems basic and obvious, yet somehow 54 percent of white evangelicals agreed with him in wanting to ban Muslims from the United States.
Not only is this a gross and flagrant violation of the religious liberty and human rights we hold so dear and profusely defend, but it inherently inhibits the dialogue and discussion inherent to evangelical Christianity as we reason with those of other faith and non-faith traditions. Under the presidency of this man, Muslim immigrants, refugees and citizens alike will be formally vilified and victimized, and 54 percent of us want that unless something changes. Something must change.
While confidence is a quality highly desired by constituents across all partisan lines, Mr. Trump dismantles this sentiment in a campaign of arrogant besiegement. I step on zero toes in saying that forgiveness is a fundamental doctrine and element of Christianity across the board. Yet Mr. Trump has no interest in forgiveness. He feels that he has no need to ask the Judeo-Christian God for forgiveness, nor do his business practices reveal any desire on his part to forgive others.
Let me clearly articulate that evangelical Christian practice and ascription to its doctrine should not be the sole criterion of selecting candidates for evangelicals; however, it is puzzling and terrifying that the same voters who refused to support Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon are now donning their "Make America Great Again” hats and assaulting a black man at a campaign rally to the praises of their leader. Mr. Trump is not our protector. He is the defamation of that which we should be.
"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK? It’s, like, incredible." Does Mr. Trump actually plan on murdering someone in cold blood in the street? I would say it’s safe to say no. Yet the lack of civility, courtesy and compassion in this comment goes light years beyond defying simple political correctness. Evangelical Republicans have long been the foremost in the fight for the "sanctity of life," yet over one-third of these voters want to elect a man who is this flippant regarding a nameless beating heart. The simple fact is that, according to elementary evangelical doctrine, Mr. Trump and every single citizen of the world is culpable for the murder of Jesus Christ, yet he sees himself as a hero needing no forgiveness, able to draw the lines of justice and wrath in the sand as he sees fit.
In an age where race and religious tensions are at a critical point, do we as the Church truly want to reap the repercussions of rallying behind a man inherently committed to discarding religious liberty, kindling fierce grudges and devaluing human life whenever he "wants to win"? Among his long list of disqualifications for evangelical voters based on previous voting behavior include his ownership of a strip club, his former staunch pro-choice stance on abortion and his egregious love for money. So why do evangelicals want him in the White House?
Many have asserted that GOP evangelicals have come to Trump’s side out of fear. I would argue that this is rather out of the desire to be contrarian against the establishment rather than set apart as a redeemed people. This is a pursuit of a new norm of bigotry rather than a reliance upon an old call to faith. This is a failure to face the tumultuously dangerous life of following Christ in all circumstances, even when we are most afraid. Instead of embracing Christianity in its purest form, a religion of compassion, sacrifice and love, we have turned to a pseudo-savior promising life today and delivering decay tomorrow.
The 37 percent must examine their hearts and ask whom they follow, the King or the Donald, because the two have fundamentally different visions for the solace of your soul.
Will Sorrell is a senior majoring in finance. His column runs biweekly.