Five Reasons Why Christians Should Feel Uncomfortable Voting for Trump in 2020

Last Sunday (July 19th), the far-right Christian Post published an article by John Wesley Reid entitled “5 Reasons why Christians should feel comfortable voting for Trump in 2020.”  Two days later, the same publication reported an international survey implicitly lamenting the fact that “most Americans don’t believe they need God to be good.”

In this time of Black Lives Matter (BLM) uprisings across the country and across the world, the two articles take on particular importance. Together, they not only highlight stark differences between right and left-wing understandings of Christianity. They also point up differences between the faiths of white evangelicals and their black counterparts in the street.

Additionally, both articles’ identification of Christianity exclusively with far right Caucasian politics goes a long way towards explaining the disconnect between morality and belief in a God. The explanation is found in the Christian right’s severely limited understanding of God, of goodness, and of the connection between morality and politics in this polarizing era of Donald Trump.

In tandem, the two articles also invite readers to be more thoughtful about their faith (or lack of same) and the ballot they’ll cast come November 3rd.   

God & Goodness

Begin with the survey. According to Pew Researchers, 54% of Americans hold that you don’t need God to be good.  Meanwhile 44% (a large majority of them on the ideological right) hold the opposite opinion. Only 24% on the ideological left believe God and morality are necessarily connected. (Left respondents in the survey typically had more years of formal education.)  

The Reid article shed light both on the identity of the sidelined God and on survey respondents’ likely understanding of “goodness” closely connected with that supposed deity. As will become clear below, Reid’s God is primarily concerned with specifically Christian welfare and with unborn life. Goodness is overwhelmingly connected with what the author referenced as “non-carnality.” Consequently, Christian political concern focuses on matters of specifically Christian liberty, on sexuality and reproduction – especially on abortion (which btw is not even mentioned in the Bible as a moral concern).  

Such limited understanding reflects the huge gap between white evangelicals and their black counterparts – for instance, the ones demonstrating against police brutality in our city streets. Their actions, of course, cannot be adequately explained without reference to the religiously based history of the Civil Rights Movement.  

In the light of that history, BLM demonstrators have inherited an understanding of God biblically founded on God’s very first revelation, viz. in the liberation of slaves from captivity in Egypt. It is linked besides to concern for widows, orphans and resident immigrants and refugees frequently reiterated in both the Jewish and Christian Testaments. In other words, goodness for black evangelicals is inseparably connected with social justice. Meanwhile, Reid’s article suggests ignorance of, and even hostility towards such linkage.

Morality & Voting for Trump

Setting all of that aside, Reid admits that he had doubts about Trump in 2016. But now, he says, those reservations have completely disappeared. Instead, he recommends that all Christians should confidently vote for 45’s reelection in November. He advances 5 reasons for doing so:

  1. You’re not voting for Donald Trump; you’re voting for the Trump Administration.
  2. You’re not voting simply for a person; you’re voting for an agenda.
  3. Policy outweighs character because policy outlasts character.
  4. If for no other reason than abortion, vote for Donald Trump.
  5. Voting for Trump is a tangible way of keeping Biden out.

Closely read, those reasons indicate that the author is still holding his nose. They all end up distancing themselves from a morally challenged candidate while cozying up to supposed paragons of Christian virtue such as Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to Trump’s agenda favoring “religious liberty,” “life of the unborn,” and resistance to volatile attacks on America (standard dog whistle for African Americans).

More specifically, Reid’s 5 reasons claim that:

  1. Trump may be carnally questionable, but people like Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo are “committed non-carnal Christ-followers.”
  2. Doubts about the president’s moral character should be “trumped” by his agenda which the author finds favoring “religious liberty,” “life of the unborn,” and resistance to those explosive attacks on America.
  3. Sure, Trump’s character is highly debatable. However, appointments of “constitutional originalists” to the judiciary are more important. So are “our children’s futures,” religious liberty, the lives of the unborn, and the economic advancement of low-income communities.
  4. Christians can conscientiously identify as single-issue voters, because the abortion issue is powerful enough to overwhelm all other policy considerations.
  5. Joe Biden is no Donald Trump.

Voting against Trump

But what if being Christian is far more complicated and challenging than Reid lets on? What if black evangelicals and others are correct in holding it’s more than avoiding “carnality” even in the sense of Trump’s legendarily deviant sexuality (now involving expressed support for his friend, accused child rapist and sex trafficker, Ghislaine Maxwell)? Such complexity might lead Christians to decline voting for Mr. Trump for at least the following 5 specific reasons roughly mirroring Reid’s own:

  1. The type of Christianity advocated by Mr. Reid is just that – a type of Christianity, viz. the white evangelical sort. However, there are other types of Christians – those black evangelicals, for instance. And then there are Catholics who embrace the official teaching of their Church, viz. the doctrine of the Second Vatican Council and Pope Francis. Their pro-life positions go far beyond the single issue of abortion to include radical environmentalism, war resistance, rejection of capital punishment, advocacy of living wages, fair housing, and healthcare as a human right. All of these, they profess, are pro-life matters.
  2. Religious liberty as understood in the Constitution is not limited to Christians of any stripe. It extends to Muslims, Jews, Hindus, agnostics, atheists and others whose pro-life concerns prioritize the already born – e.g. at the border, in Trump’s baby jails, under incessant U.S.-supported bombing in places like Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, on death row, and elsewhere.
  3. Donald Trump and virtually every member of the Republican Party are joined at the hip. There is absolutely no separation between policies advocated and implemented by Donald Trump and the rest of his administration – none. As for the morality of Mike Pompeo, he has specifically joked and bragged about endorsing policies of lying, cheating and stealing –all (unlike abortion) specifically prohibited not only in the Bible, but in all religious traditions. In other words, Trump’s inner circle is no more virtuous than he.   
  4. Above all, “our children’s futures” which are of such apparent concern to Mr. Reid, are intimately connected with and existentially threatened by climate change which the entire Republican Party proudly denies.
  5. Joe Biden is no Donald Trump.

Conclusion

There are good reasons for Americans and better educated people around the world to consider belief in God as inessential to morality. The God of The Post’s John Reid and his fellow believers, for instance, is so small in moral stature and very limited in his concern compared with the God of the Bible. Reid’s God is not only unbiblical, he is also basically white, ethnocentric and specifically American. That strains the credulity of even moderately educated people whose general knowledge recognizes the goodness found in non-Christians and in so many atheists. No wonder such thinkers reject a god as tiny as Reid’s.

Meanwhile, the biblical God, at least as embodied in Jesus’ prophetic tradition, literally identifies with human beings like those specifically despised by the candidate Reid would have his type of Christians embrace. Remember, Jesus himself was born out of wedlock to a teenage mother; he was an immigrant in Egypt in his early years; he was working class, poor, and a member of a people imperialized by the first century equivalent of the United States.

Besides that, Jesus’ “Good News” was specifically addressed to the poor (LK 4:18). He ended up being a victim of torture and capital punishment at the hands of the Roman Empire. All of that is foreign to Reid’s unbiblical notion of God.

And finally, it seems that the Jewish Jesus of the Christian Testament could well sympathize with those who feel alienated from their religious communities of origin. After all, he was expelled from his hometown synagogue (Luke 4: 14-30) and thought to be possessed by the devil himself (John 10:20).   

That Jesus, it seems safe to say, would be appalled by Donald Trump.

Published by

Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 45 years. Three grown children. Six grandchildren.

2 thoughts on “Five Reasons Why Christians Should Feel Uncomfortable Voting for Trump in 2020”

  1. Mike, sad as it is to say, 99.99% of what are actually Beth-avens, houses of nothing, have become so biblically illiterate rather relying on the lies, words and traditions of man instead of the scriptures, which of course, as it should take an investment by you. Using a good KJV, Bullinger’s Companion Bible is by far the best study ever printed, along with a Strongs Exhaustive Concordance, I just bought 2 different printings for $6.75 ea and that’s with shipping, unreal, and of course the Smiths Bible Dictionary, the last two by the way are free apps for smart phones. I know from experience that study is never a waste of time, and when Father knows you’re putting in the effort, hold on. Of course prayer, and listening are always just as important when studying. Find a good teaching ministry like Shepherds Chapel, who after 60 yrs still won’t mooch your money. It’s who Father used to get my bearings, and it’s been life changing. Sure things are going to happen, but depending on what is, like every part of this world going to hell in a hand basket doesn’t bring the least bit of anxiety, except I’d like to be able to help more out in the streets, that’ll come in Father’s time which He’s already made clear. When you realize that this whole flesh man existence was always only a temporal thing, you understand the plan, don’t buy into the lies of hellfire, damnation, and nuclear holocaust then you can concentrate on getting ready for who is coming and he Will Not be who he claims, and although they’ve all got their rapture tickets in hand, that’s nothing but one of the biggest lies, right up with Eve eating an apple, and easter, all lies of men on both sides, Rome and the reformationists. As a Christian Protestant, an Ordained Minister I can tell you straight out I abhor religion with a passion, it’s right where all the pageantry, lies, hypocrisy and greed that has plagued mankind since he was created in this age and the one prior because of free will. But for true love to be genuine it must come freely from within, they never realized how good they had it. So a third follows Satan the adversary, the rest weren’t a lot better but out of all of humanity that has passed thru this life there have been two extremely small groups. One God calls His remnant who mostly paid with their own lives to keep the truth moving forward, the other here now in force but still small, His elect. We’ll be used by Father to kick the bricks out devil boy’s little house of deception. No Christianity is not a religion it’s a reality, because of a real relationship with our Creator and Savior who as promised, seek me and you shall find me, and I will never leave you nor forsake you. Father’s still on His throne and everything is humming along right on schedule. Just as the LORD called King Nebuchadnezzar “my servant” three times in Jeremiah, it’s the same with this troika of stooges in the Oval Office who haven’t a clue. By the way everything I’ve stated I can back up in the scriptures without putting words in that aren’t there, like rapture, huh now where’s this word or event, sorry not applicable. There are two very good books on everything about the where’s and how’s that lie all started, and the apple and easter, good old paganistic and idolatrous Rome, their civilization always has been they’ve only sprinkled a little Christianity for some legitimacy, you know they must be awfully proud of pounding those spikes into Yeshua Christ Jesus’ hands, which of course they blamed the Jews, except none of those scribes and Pharisees were of Judah, they just lived in the land of Judea, everyone of their Beth-avens has to have a graphic representation of it apparently. That’s okay, times a coming. > ΙΧΘΥΣ ✝️

    Ernest Wood ✝️

    >

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    1. Wow! Thanks so much, Earnest, for sharing such wonderfully critical thoughts. I loved your “As a Christian Protestant, an Ordained Minister I can tell you straight out I abhor religion with a passion. . .” So often I find myself wondering if the world might not be better off without that curse. Faith is something else. In all of this I’m influenced greatly by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his quest for “God without religion.” As you say, it’s amazing that all the rapture talk (nowhere in the scriptures) has taken over and seduced so many who (like all of us) are sincerely seeking meaning and purpose in life. I can’t adequately tell you how much I appreciate your elaboration/comment. Thanks again.

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