Time for the religious to divorce the right

Donald Trump at Liberty University
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This election is over. The wise perceive that Donald Trump has had his Clayton Williams / Todd Akin moment, from which there will be no return. The unwise are howling at the majority of Americans who were deeply offended by Trump’s comments that we’re Puritans, prudes, and “Social Justice Warriors” — as if this petulant round of name-calling paired with borderline gaslighting could stop the bleeding.

We’re seeing the return of 2012’s desperate “skewed polls” nonsense. But the only people who deny that Trump has fallen and he can’t get up (no pun intended) are those who have money to make in saying this is still a horse race, and those mired in the first stage of grief.

{mosads}Yes, Hillary Clinton is unethical, corrupt, and guilty of her own brand of sexism (which feminists hypocritically give a free pass to because abortion). Yes, in terms of womanizing and alleged sexual predation, Bill Clinton is worse than Donald Trump; Trump, at least, can’t be accused of abusing women from the sanctity of public office. Given Trump’s 2005 status as a registered Democrat and a good friend of Bill Clinton’s, it actually makes a lot of sense that he was so cavalier about adultery and sexual assault.

It makes no difference in the end. In this election, “right” has failed to translate to “might,” and nothing short of a catastrophe in the Clinton campaign can save Donald Trump’s candidacy now. Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the 45th President of the United States — and, though I’ve never been a Donald Trump supporter, I don’t like it any more than you do.

Where does this leave evangelicals? Many of my brothers and sisters in Christ hitched their wagons to Trump’s falling star, whether enthusiastically or reluctantly. Many of our religious leaders bended the knee to him, shrugging off his misogyny, his racism, his ties to the porn industry, his ill temperament, and his unrepentant adulteries with such trite excuses as, “He’s not running for pastor.”

Christian integrity was sacrificed on the altar of “but he’s promised conservative Supreme Court justices.” However shocking the 2005 Trump tape may have been, we cannot with any level of seriousness claim that we just did not know that Donald Trump was like this (sorry Wayne Grudem), since what may be known about Trump was plain to us, because Trump made it plain to us.

If evangelicals want to know the way forward, I suggest we start looking backwards, all the way back to where Christianity began. John the Baptist could have made a powerful political alliance with King Herod; instead, he was relentless in his criticism of Herod’s immoral marriage choices, to the point of it costing him his life — funny how “Herod isn’t running for pastor” never occurred to him.

The early Christians did not spread Christianity like wildfire by seeking to run the government, they spread it with lives of holiness, good deeds, and evangelism — and though they did begin to run the government with the reigns of Constantine and Theodosius in the 4th century, many historians could tell you that this mingling of faith and government reign was as bad for Christianity as it was good.

Finally, believe it or not, early Christianity was wildly popular with women because it affirmed that women had similar rights to men (1 Cor. 7:4, Gal. 3:28), offered them important opportunities for leadership, demanded that husbands treat their wives with love, and allowed women to escape from the tyranny of first-century marriage via celibacy.

Which is all to say, not only is it okay for evangelicals to be empathetic to the needs of women, it’s a huge part of how the Gospel found success in the first place. In embracing Donald Trump and his manchild misogyny, evangelicals have moved as far away from their Christian roots as they can get.

I propose that it’s time for a great divorce, that there should be no more “Religious Right,” only the religious doing what’s right. Character matters. Integrity matters. And the Gospel matters. Evangelicals are correct to abhor the Democratic Party’s devotion to abortion and its subsequent devaluing of human life, but this should not mean we always vote Republican, regardless of who is nominated. If Republican leaders fail to appoint men and women of integrity to lead us, they should no longer expect our vote.

After all, if our faith is not misplaced and God is really on our side, political leaders need us far more than we need them. God’s arm is not too short to deal with the difficulties facing our nation, with or without their cooperation.

And if our faith is misplaced and God is not on our side, then no one should be listening to us in the first place.

Bridget Jack Jeffries has a master’s degree in American religious history from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Follow her on Twitter or GAB.


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Tags 2016 presidential election Bill Clinton Conservative Democratic Party Donald Trump evangelicals Hillary Clinton religious right Republican Party United States

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