Why The ‘Christian Case for Trump’ is Hogwash

Donald Trump’s nomination by the Republican Party has caused a great twisting up in conservative circles, and particularly within Christian circles. As a result I have noticed an increasing circulation in material designed to persuade Christians that Donald Trump is the right choice for Christians.

I find this bothersome on two levels:

  • It is bothersome to see Christianity (or any religion) used to manipulate decisions with no direct application to the individual or the church. The idea that something somebody is selling is the right choice for Christians is, in my view, a dangerous one guaranteed to result in charlatanism.
  • A vote is a political act, not a religious one, and what some Christians may prescribe for their own lives or churches need not necessarily be part of their political agendas.

The particular material that prompted this response, however, was a post called, “To the ‘Never Trumper’ – A Biblical Case for Trump,” by an anonymous writer at a blog called Last Chance America. I found the language to be glib and condescending, and I found the argument to be short-sighted and poorly supported. The writer’s priority is to stop Hillary Clinton at what seems to be any cost, suggesting in the 18th paragraph that the only thing standing between us and the total destruction of the United States is Donald Trump.

I disagree.

My purpose here is not to make a case against Donald Trump. It is only to make the case that there is no Christian imperative to support him. Further, I think the author of “To the ‘Never Trumper'” does not understand the depth of the personal and moral compromise she is asking Never Trumpers to make.

In specific: I think Trump poses a more immediate and severe danger to the republic than Hillary Clinton or any other serious presidential candidate of my lifetime. The purpose of this response is not to convince anyone to agree with me, but I do want to make clear that if you’re telling me I have a Christian imperative to vote for Donald Trump, you need to understand that you’re telling me it’s my Christian responsibility to vote for someone I think is capable of becoming one of history’s greatest monsters. This is not a matter of simply wishing Marco Rubio (or whoever) had won the primary.

Although I understand why some Republicans feel they have no choice but to vote for Trump, I did not come away from this piece having read a convincing argument that voting for him is the best thing for Christians to do. Instead, I found what I considered a sloppy slamming together of Bible verses and Trump campaign logic that failed to address the #NeverTrump movement’s biggest concerns about Donald Trump.

I’ve addressed the most bothersome passages here:

I am simply stating that in this specific office, as President, he has gone to great lengths to demonstrate that he will protect and champion the rights of the American evangelical if he were to be elected, even if he does not personally embrace those values.

This is a mistake of gravely shallow thinking. Trump has repeatedly shown himself to be outwardly and explicitly hostile to the open practice of religion. If Trump can ban Muslims, pushing their faith into the underground, then he can also do so with Jews or Baptists or religion altogether. Even if, as the writer supposes, Trump would never attempt to ban Christians, he will have made it easier for someone who would. The right to freely practice one’s religion has to be categorical, or it has no meaning. Trump has announced his intent to use the might of the government to restrict the open expression of faith in the United States. Throwing support behind that idea has consequences that reach beyond a couple presidential terms.

PLEASE stop saying that failing to vote for Trump is not a vote for Hillary…it is. I am truly not trying to insult your intelligence here. I simply fear you may be over thinking things. No matter how much you attempt to pad your argument with mathematical or philosophical meanderings, the simple truth is that a third party NEVER has and CANNOT win the presidency, at least not in this election cycle’s 2 party system, broken as it may be.

In addition to being objectively untrue, this thinking is, again, short-sighted. I believe you have under-thought it. If we are considering only the election this November, then it is true that either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will win and every vote tips the balance in one of those two directions. But that is not all that is at stake.

Each vote for Donald Trump tells the Republican party, “we want more of that.” Each vote is a choice about the sort of person you think is fit for office, the sort of person you trust, and the sort of person you want to be associated with, and the direction in which you want to move the country.

Let’s set aside the considerable questions about Trump’s competence for a minute and focus on his character. Many people – many of them Christians – view Donald Trump as dishonest, undignified, unkind and selfish. If you say you value honesty, dignity, kindness and selflessness, and you cast a vote for someone you think possesses none of those qualities, then you have sold out those values. In this case, you will have sold out those values just to stop one particular woman.

If, on the other hand, a significant number of Christian voters jump out of the Republican party and cast their vote elsewhere, it will be a signal to the Republican party that their nominee and his platform were unacceptable to one of the largest voting blocs in American politics.

And although I think a vote should be looked at from both a practical and philosophical perspective, I’ll engage with your pure practicality and place you in a state where the race is not close, like New York or Oklahoma. In this scenario, your vote has the most power if it is used to illustrate growing support for candidates or ideas that are outside the mainstream. It is true that third parties never win U.S. elections, but often the ideas that propel those third parties get absorbed by the mainstream.

This piece is written with red-hot focus on stopping Hillary Clinton. As much as I wish she was not in the position she’s in, Donald Trump doesn’t represent me or my values, either, so I can’t support him. It’s that simple.

As I have already demonstrated above, by not voting for one “evil” you ARE, like it or not, casting your vote for the other. 

You have demonstrated no such thing. You have only said it.

We can be CERTAIN, however, that Hillary will do her best to destroy what little sense of decency we have left.

How can we be certain? And given your support for Trump, I’m wondering what you mean by “decency.”

I am simply asking that you examine your motives. 

I’ll ask the same of you.

This isn’t about your personal likes or dislikes. This is about the future of your children. 

That’s exactly what I’m saying.

You will have lost the right to act as a martyr when she comes after your right to speak freely about issues such as homosexuality and the exclusivity of the Gospel because you had your chance to do something about it and you did NOTHING.

Again, of the two candidates, Trump is the only one who has been outwardly hostile to the free practice of religion.

This situation reminds of the fable of the drowning man who turned down three rescue attempts with the rationale that, “God would come and save him.” When he drowned, he questioned God about why He would allow him to die. God responded with, “I sent you three boats!”

Whether we like it or not, America is drowning and the Trump boat, though less than desirable, is the only viable option for rescue we have to keep us afloat for the time being.

I think you are trying to make your narrative about America sound true to Christians by comparing it to a Biblical story. But there is no specific relationship between those two scenarios. A Hillary supporter could make it Hillary’s boat instead of Trump’s and it would be just as meaningful a comparison.

You have a premise: “America is drowning.”

What do we mean by “drowning,” and how do we know when it’s happening? I don’t think America is drowning, but for the sake of this argument I’ll assume your premise that America is doomed.

Then you have a conclusion: The Trump boat is the only viable rescue option.

Well, I don’t think America is doomed, and even if I did, I wouldn’t consider Donald Trump part of the solution. So which of us is right? Just saying something doesn’t make it true, and it doesn’t get any truer just because it vaguely reminds you of a story in the Bible.

In Cruz’s address to the Republican convention, he repeatedly acknowledged the fact that this may be America’s last chance to save herself. I beg you to consider the words of your own hero …

I don’t know where you got the idea Ted Cruz was my hero, but he isn’t.

If we do not vote for Trump and therefore vote for Hillary, we will have lost our right to complain about the escalating murders of third trimester, unborn lives in America and the increasing span of The Parental Rights Organization, because we had our chance to do something and we did nothing. 

Consider this your daily reminder that Donald Trump was a Hillary supporter until like 10 minutes ago. I submit to you that you are being played.

If we do not vote for Trump and therefore vote for Hillary, we will have lost your right to complain about future, liberal Supreme Court Rulings, because we had our chance to do something and we did nothing.

You don’t know who Donald Trump would put on the Supreme Court.

If we do not vote for Trump and therefore vote for Hillary, we will have lost our right to complain when our pastors are imprisoned for hate speech crimes, because we had our chance to do something and we did nothing. 

If you vote for Donald Trump, you will have voted for the only person in the race who has proposed using the might of the government to restrict religious freedom in the United States.

“You are doomed and only I can save you” is Trump’s entire campaign. It is a messianic pitch. But Donald Trump is not the Messiah. He’s a crude game show host, and nobody owes him their vote.