When it comes to Trump, what’s a Christian to do?

By Robert Mann

Is voting for Donald Trump a morally defensible act? Can a person of faith justify supporting him? “Yes,” you might say, noting that many people of faith, particularly evangelicals, are wildly attracted to Trump and his blunt, sometime-profane messages. And you’d be right. Lots of Christians do support him.

While I don’t fully understand it, I’m intrigued by those evangelicals’ strange, intense attraction to Trump, whose personal life and public pronouncements often seem so antithetical to widely accepted Christian teachings.

I ask my questions as a Christian, who has little interest in the private morality or religious beliefs of public officials. For example, I couldn’t care less if Trump is a committed Presbyterian, as he claims. The faith or degree of personal piety evinced by a politician does not influence me nearly as much as the morality of that person’s public policies.

Put another way, give me a philanderer who passionately defends the poor over a family man who caters the wealthy and big business.

But back to my question: Should people of faith vote for Trump?

First, support for or opposition to Trump or any other political candidate shouldn’t be a test of anyone’s faith. Whether you’re a true and faithful Christian, Jew or Muslim is between you and the Almighty. As Pope Francis said in another context, “Who am I to judge?”

Second, I would never suggest, as some prominent Catholic leaders have, that voting for a pro-choice candidate (or any candidate, for that matter) is a sin. And I would not urge people, as does Franklin Graham, to support only candidates who “uphold biblical principles,” whatever that means.

That said, if you’re a person of faith (or an atheist), you are not wrong to consider the moral implications of your vote.

So, I wonder if the better question for Christians and other people of faith is: “Will a candidate’s policies and public actions be consistent with the fundamental tenets of my faith or beliefs?” In other words, I don’t ask, “Am I a true person of faith if I vote for this person?” Rather, I ask, “If I vote for that candidate, will his or her policies reflect the justice, compassion, unity and humility that my faith demands?”

I believe Pope Francis summed up perfectly my feelings about what it means to be a Christian in the public realm. “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the Gospel,” the Pope recently told journalists who asked about Trump’s hardline position on illegal immigration.

Notice that the pope didn’t declare that Trump is not a Christian. He meant, I believe, that Trump’s actions and his pronouncements were not Christ-like. In other words, Francis used the word “Christian” as an adjective, not a noun.

He was right. Trump’s actions and many of his policies are not Christian by any definition of the word that I comprehend.

Fomenting hatred toward Mexicans and Muslims is not Christian. Talking about shutting down mosques is not Christian. Calling for the assassination of the families of suspected terrorists is not Christian. Advocating torture is not Christian.

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7 Responses to When it comes to Trump, what’s a Christian to do?

  1. Stephen Winham says:

    Trump most closely fits my concept of the anti-Christ. I think that says it all for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jechoisir says:

    When pharisees tried to trick him into weighing in on the matter of politics Caesar, Jesus of Nazareth told them, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God, what is God’s.” So I think ministers who involve themselves directly in politics are misguided. And I think churches that give their pulpits to a political candidate on Sunday mornings, as many in Texas have given, are misguided. The work of the Christian church is—or should be– the soul of man. Just as Jesus turned the money-changers out of the temple, so should we keep politicians out of our churches.

    If Franklin Graham said only that Christians should support candidates who manifest Christian virtues, that seems just another way of saying what you suggested: ““Will a candidate’s policies and public actions be consistent with the fundamental tenets of my faith or beliefs?”

    Had I been in his audience when The Donald declared himself Presbyterian, I would almost surely have risen from my seat and demanded he answer these questions—-“Who made you?” and “Why did God make you?” They are the first two questions in the child’s Westminster Catechism, and they stick with one for life. They orient one toward humility. The answer to the third question–“How can we glorify God?—makes clear one’s duty—“Love Him and obey his commandments.” The greatest of those commandments, Jesus says, is to love God with all your heart and all your mind, and your neighbor, as yourself.” Love of God will result in compassion for others, humility based on the awareness that there, but for the Grace of God, go we. The Christian is told to put his light on a high hill that others may see God in it—-not that others may praise its owner.

    So the question, I think, is not what people who declare themselves Christians do, but what Christ told his followers to do. For it is our actions, not the names we give those actions that identify us as Christians. And every time religion gets mixed up with politics, it is always religion that loses.

    As for The Donald, I am minded of the vaunt of the Wesh Lord Owen Glendower in Shakespeare’s I Henry IV. Furious that his young son-in-law, Hotspur, has had the audacity to question him, Glendower cries, “Why, I can call demons from the vasty Deep!” To which Hospur asks, “But will they come when called?”

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  3. martybankson says:

    As the resident atheist and occasional commenter in these parts, I must say it’s good to get Bob’s recognition of atheists-as-moral-agents in and of themselves in this call for soul-searching to all who would normally consider themselves Christians. And that “fear of God” that he forebodes is especially tenable for us who believe that any gods that might be proven to reign over all could just as easily be one that is, at best, indifferent to the plight of man; at worst, the embodiment and perpetrator of evil him-,her-, itself.

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  4. Tom Anderson says:

    As a full time and life long Presbyterian, I could not agree more with your posting. As a kid I sort of took some sort of false pride in that the number of Presbyterian presidents were only shortly surpassed by the Episcopalians.

    Now, I could care less as I have learned more from the teachings of Jesus that what is good and true is love, forgiveness and inclusion. He also taught that our first acts should be toward helping the disadvantaged (widows, orphans, and oppressed). These teachings go further back than the time Jesus taught them to the Jews of Palistine. Early China and Tibet taught many of the same virtues.

    It is difficult to practice the teachings of Jesus fully and be very successful politically in this country and even more so in the state of Louisiana. I do recall fondly what my simplistic philosophical father taught me as a child that ” it is the role of government to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.” I believe this means maintaining a military and law enforcement to protect all of us and social programs that cover helping those who the churches and charities do not or will not reach. But, what do I know?

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  5. Randy Hayden says:

    I think the “wealthy and big business” deserve representation too. And when they get representation, I hope they get if from a “family man” and not a “philanderer.” When it comes to government service, I do believe that the character of the messenger is often as important as the quality of the message. I understand your point despite your awkward attempt at making it. In any event, this is,in great part, why I won’t be supporting Donald Trump. Love your work…for the most part. Ha! randy

    Randy Hayden
    Creative Communications, Inc.
    P.O. Box 14204
    Baton Rouge, La. 70898

    (O) 225-763-8988
    (F) 225-763-8989
    (C) 225-937-2841

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