Thursday, September 7, 2017

Trump and the Evangelicals

Orthodox Christian writer Rod Dreher recently had lunch with a group of Evangelicals, and the conversation turned to the Nashville Statement, in which Evangelical leaders took a hard line against tolerating homosexuality and transgenderism.
The ones who spoke up, including some pastors, emphatically called the Nashville Statement a pastoral disaster. . . . The fact that it focused so narrowly on homosexuality and transgenderism, and including nothing about divorce and other faults of heterosexual Christians, makes it look like the signers are plucking the speck out of LGBT eyes while ignoring the log in the church’s own eye. . . .

A couple of people in college ministry were at the table. They said that it is impossible to overstate how alienating the enthusiastic support their parents gave to Donald Trump was to their students. A number of college students have left the church entirely over it.

“How is that possible?” I asked one of the campus ministers. “How do you decide to leave Christianity altogether over who your parents voted for? That makes no sense to me.”

He said that in Evangelical circles, it’s common for college students to be skeptical at best of their parents’ theological views. For a lot of them, their parents’ backing of Donald Trump made everything they had been taught as kids about Christianity a lie. Their parents were the primary face of Evangelical Christianity to them, and to see this happen was shattering. They concluded that Christianity must be all about the economy, or tribalism, and so forth. One pastor said that a young man he ministers to in college posted a criticism of Trump on Facebook, and was cut off financially by his parents because of it.

Listening to these pastors and laypeople talking about the Trump effect on younger Christians was quite sobering to me. An older pastor said that it is impossible to separate the Nashville Statement from the massive support white Evangelicals gave to Trump. Impossible to separate, I mean, in the mind of the young.

“But Russell Moore signed it, and other Trump critics among Evangelicals,” I said.

“I know, and I’ve tried to tell people that,” said this pastor, a conservative Evangelical. “It doesn’t matter to them. All they see is a bunch of leaders of a movement who voted for a sexually corrupt man like Donald Trump are now trying to take a public stand on sexual morality for gays. It’s totally hypocritical to them. I don’t know how the Nashville Statement drafters and signers didn’t see this coming.”
Trump has divided Evangelicals at a time when they already seemed to be losing big time in the culture wars, and discredited their leaders in the minds of millions of young Christians.

It seems, as I have noted in other contexts, that whatever other disasters Trump brings to America, he may well devastate the conservative movement.


Shadow said...

It seems to me evangelicals divided themselves. Trump didn't make them do anything, nor did he hide anything from them. Those who voted for him chose ends over means revealing the vast distance between evangelical rhetoric and action. He said things that were not Christian, did things that were not Christian, and neither apologized nor asked for forgiveness for either. There are no surprises here to hide behind for those evangelicals who voted for him.

Having said that I would like to hear an evangelical who voted for him explain their reasoning.

G. Verloren said...

It's almost as if Evangelicals care more about policing other people than about holding themselves to those same standards...'s like if meddling in the affairs of others were literally the entire foundation of their doctrine and beliefs, or something...