The conservative, evangelical political figure, Peter Wehner, recently voiced his dismay that white evangelicals continue to support President Trump. A Pew Research poll found that 70 percent of white evangelical Protestants form the strength of his base.
Why, I wonder. Is it that he lies about things minor and major? Is it because of his womanizing, misogyny? Or his personal wealth that allows him to silence prostitutes with hundreds of thousands of dollars? Is it his unique ability to dehumanize friends and enemies and make fun of the handicapped? Is it his virulent strain of nationalism combined with a tinge of racism that we are nostalgic for? Is it that he declared he has no need to confess wrongdoing? Is it that he is untethered to any sense of right or wrong?
Wehner, an advisor in the Reagan and Bush administrations, understands why evangelicals voted for him. He is mystified why they continue to support him after it has become clear that very little about him embodies the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. I am an inheritor of a great evangelical tradition, and I share his bewilderment and his fear that the values and power of the evangelical tradition will soon be crushed.
Jeff Manning, the conservative, evangelical pastor of Unity Free Will Baptist Church in Greenville, North Carolina, voted for President Trump. Now, after the anger stirred up in his home city, he reflects, “I have grave concerns about his spiritual condition,” Manning said of the president. “There’s too much evidence against it. ... I pray he will become one.”
I merely want to protect my evangelical roots and, like Wehner and others, point out that white, evangelical followers of Jesus are his most ardent supporters, and I find no biblical basis for that. Mark Labberton, president of Fuller Seminary — the largest evangelical seminary in America — writes, “The scandal associated today with the evangelical gospel is not the scandal of the Cross of Christ, crucified for the salvation of the world. Rather it is the scandal of our own arrogance, unconfessed before the Cross, revealing a hypocritical superiority that we dare to associate with the God who died to save the weak and the lost.”
REV. TOM PIETILA