by Bruce Strom
After last night’s sweeping victories by Donald Trump and polls that demonstrated significant support among evangelicals, I am breaking my traditional silence to apologize. I am an evangelical and Donald Trump does not represent my understanding of evangelicalism or Christianity.
I believe an evangelical is one who holds a high view of the Bible and believes a relationship with God comes by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. We are people who are called to love God and love our neighbor. Lk. 10:27. In fact the world will recognize us by our love. Jn 13:35; 15:17.
To love God means to recognize that we are sinners in need of a Savior. Rom. 3:23. I need to ask for forgiveness in order to have a right relationship with God. Rom. 10:9-10. Donald Trump has specifically said he has never asked God for forgiveness. While the hallmark of a Christian is humility, Donald Trump proudly represents the opposite. No apologies. No surrender. Trump is a winner. But as Christians we are called to be losers – to surrender our lives, our wills and our pride. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart. Ps. 51:17.
Trump claims he wants to make America great again, but what makes America great? We could probably disagree, but I believe the greatness of America lies in our values. I don’t believe America is a Christian nation and I don’t believe a profession in faith is a necessary pre-condition for being President. We are a secular constitutional democracy. But I do believe America was founded upon a moral foundation in law correctly characterized as a Judeo-Christian tradition. This tradition is important.
Our nation has never been perfect – and never will be. Only heaven has a perfect government. But our values have shaped our progress through civil war and civil rights. A Republican President resigned after the public was shocked by the Nixon tapes which revealed great vulgarity and lies. Donald Trump does this with impunity. A Democrat President faced impeachment for lying and an affair. Yet Donald Trump has little regard for marriage or women. These past presidential transgressions which offended the American people and evangelicals, pale in comparison to the establishment of strip clubs, use of cheap labor, defrauding of students of Trump University, misrepresentations over the use of the Trump name on construction projects, and more.
The other great commandment I as an evangelical follow is love of neighbor. We believe all people are created equal and have inherent dignity because they are made in the image of God. Evangelicals can disagree over policy – and they do. Some are Democrats, some are Republicans. But we should agree on people. People matter to God and they matter to us. Mr. Trump belittles women, minorities, Muslims, Mexicans, and … well form a line. He promotes fear and hate which are antithetical to Christian values. “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Tim. 1:7. Sadly some evangelicals seem to promote the ‘power’ part of that verse without the love and self-control.
Mr. Trump famously attacked journalist Megyn Kelly accusing her of having blood spurting out of her “x” to minimize her questioning of him. Jesus encountered a woman who was literally bleeding and instead of belittle her, he demonstrated love, healing and restoration. He told her to “Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mk. 5:34. Inflicting suffering is not evangelical, relieving suffering is.
Evangelicals have long been accused of being hypocrites. Those who support Donald Trump do nothing to alleviate that criticism. Making America great again is an admirable desire, but if greatness is measured on the values most evangelicals hold dear, Donald Trump does not represent those values. I ask my evangelical friends to consider what we are saying to the outside world when we support Donald Trump. We live in a wonderfully free country and you should be free to vote for whomever you wish. But please do not vote for Donald Trump on the basis of Christian evangelical faith. Respectfully, there is nothing in Mr. Trump’s life, attitudes or actions that support such a position.