Former megachurch pastor and evangelical author Joshua Harris said in a recent interview that he believes some of the massive support President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE has enjoyed from the evangelical community has been “incredibly damaging to the Gospel and to the church.”
Harris, an influential evangelical teacher and writer during the late 1990s and up until he announced he'd abandoned his faith earlier this year, added that having "a leader like Trump I think is in itself part of the indictment" of Christians.
Evangelicals have been staunch supporters of Trump since his 2016 election, with his job approval higher than average among white evangelical Christians throughout the three years of his presidency, according to Pew Research Center data. In a poll earlier this fall conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, about 77 percent of evangelicals approve of the president’s job performance, compared to an average 43 percent in other polls.
But Harris told Axios's Mike Allen that he's concerned about the end result of the church becoming "identified with President Trump."
“I don’t think it’s going to end well," Harris said in a clip of an interview on "Axios on HBO” released Monday.
“And I think, you know, you look back at the Old Testament and the relationship between the prophets and really bad leaders and kings, and oftentimes it was, it's not something you unwind because it's, it's actually in the scriptures presented as God's judgment on the False Religion of the day,” Harris said.
“You think Christians today who are embracing President Trump are due for a judgment?” Allen asked.
“I think it is the judgment,” Harris responded. “I think it is part of the judgment.”
“What do you mean by that?” Allen asked.
“To have a leader like Trump I think is in itself part of the indictment, that this is the leader that you want and maybe deserve,” Harris answered. “That represents a lot of who you are.”
Harris, who served as the senior pastor at the Covenant Life megachurch Gaithersburg, Md., for more than a decade before resigning from his post in 2015 amid controversy over the church's handling of a child sexual abuse scandal, rose to prominence shortly after the 1997 publication of "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" at age 21. The book was once highly influential to evangelical youth group teaching.
Despite the book’s huge success in the '90s, Harris raised eyebrows last year after he said he “no longer” agreed “with its central idea that dating should be avoided” after reevaluating the book.
“There are other weaknesses too: in an effort to set a high standard, the book emphasized practices (not dating, not kissing before marriage) and concepts (giving your heart away) that are not in the Bible,” he continued. “In trying to warn people of the potential pitfalls of dating, it instilled fear for some—fear of making mistakes or having their heart broken.”
“The book also gave some the impression that a certain methodology of relationships would deliver a happy ever-after ending—a great marriage, a great sex life—even though this is not promised by scripture,” he also wrote before announcing his decision to discontinue the book’s publication in the statement.
Harris also captured headlines earlier this year after announced he was no longer a Christian.
In an Instagram post from July, Harris wrote that he has “undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus.”
“The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction, the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’ By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian,” he wrote then. “Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now.”