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Much has been made of the report that 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump. That has been used to portray evangelicals as hypocritical about their faith. It is also true that less than 10 percent of black evangelicals and less than 40 percent of Hispanic and Asian evangelicals voted for Trump. This could indicate that evangelicals are more likely to vote according to their ethnic or geographical background rather than their religious beliefs.

There is also a difference between those who self-identify as evangelicals when answering questions in a poll, as opposed to those who actually have evangelical beliefs. Evangelicals have historically been defined by their belief that the Bible is authoritative, salvation is obtained only by trusting in Jesus Christ as your savior, sin can only be forgiven because of Jesus' death on the cross, and we should encourage others to trust in Jesus as their savior.

In a recent poll among those who self-identify as evangelicals, 52 percent say God accepts all religions as equal to Christ-ianity and religious belief is not based on objective truth. It would be difficult to identify these respondents as truly evangelical. It is understandable that voting for Trump would not violate the religious beliefs of these neo-evangelicals.

One can understand many evangelicals voting for Trump as a vote against Hillary Clinton. Many of Hillary's statements and policies are strongly opposed by evangelicals. In one poll, 45 percent of evangelicals stated they voted against Hillary as opposed to for Trump.

What is more difficult to understand is evangelical leaders and spokespersons who serve as apologists and promoters for Trump's worst actions and statements even though they often violate evangelicals' core beliefs. They may believe voting for someone means you must support every action and cannot publicly oppose their policies you disagree with. Maybe they think if they ever admit fault with Trump, it will be like admitting the emperor has no clothes.

In the Old Testament, when King David committed adultery and murder, the prophet Nathan confronted him. It seems Nathans are hard to find among these current neo-evangelical spokespersons. By contrast, when neo-evangelical leader Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council heard of Trump's paying off a porn star and a Playboy bunny to keep them quiet about his adultery, Perkins said he would give Trump a mulligan for it.

When confronted with his sin, David immediately confessed he had sinned against God. By contrast, when Trump was asked about his history of adultery and immoral behavior, he replied, "Why do I have to repent or ask for forgiveness, if I am not making mistakes?" He later stated, "I think if I do something wrong, I think I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture."

Robert Jeffress is pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas when not serving as a Fox News commentator and venerating Trump. When asked if he would support a candidate who embodies the teaching of Jesus, he said he would run from him because he wanted the "toughest son of a you-know-what I can find." It seems that Jeffress thinks that Jesus willingly giving himself as sacrifice for our sins on the cross was not being tough. His idea of tough is Trump insulting our military heroes, bragging about abusing women, and using profanity and childish name-calling to bully those he disagrees with.

It is inexplicable to me that these neo-evangelical leaders call on their churches to send missionaries to Africa to tell them God loves them, yet do not condemn Trump when he calls the nations of Africa (expletive)-hole countries and says we don't want their kind in our country.

They teach their children to sing "red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in his sight" but stand mute while the president panders to and excuses the white supremacist alt-right. They preach family values while the president tears families apart at the border. They support placing monuments to the Ten Commandments at the state Capitol grounds while admiring a president who has been a serial adulterer and a bearer of false witness his entire adult life.

They preach of the evils of godless communism but are not appalled when their president grovels before Vladimir Putin and says he loves Kim Jong Un, two ruthless communist dictators. They oppose the building of casinos in our state while praising the business acumen of a president who has profited from owning casinos and strip clubs. They preach that we are to make disciples of all nations and should be salt and light in the world while applauding Trump's crude nationalist propaganda and phony "make America great again" slogan.

Charles Colson was reported to say, when he worked for President Nixon, that if they would take religious leaders for a ride on the presidential yacht down the Potomac, they would go away praising the president. There is no presidential yacht today, but the modern equivalent is a photo op in the White House Rose Garden. When these neo-conservative leaders are invited to the Rose Garden to stand behind Trump, they go away speaking of President Trump with cult-like praise.

Not all evangelical leaders are so compliant. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, stated in 2016 that he saw "evangelical support for Trump as a horrifying embarrassment--a price for possible political gain that is simply unthinkable and too high to pay." Indeed!

------------v------------

Ron West is an evangelical, a fifth-generation Arkansas Baptist, and a retired missionary living in Little Rock.

Editorial on 01/11/2019

Print Headline: A price too high

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Comments

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  • arklilbro
    January 11, 2019 at 7:47 a.m.

    Here's hoping this is the beginning of an awakening in the evangelical community that their unwavering support for Individual 1 is not in keeping with the message of our Savior.

  • 23cal
    January 11, 2019 at 8:57 a.m.

    Good column. Evangelicals have lost all credibility on claims to the moral high ground. They have sold their souls for a supreme court seat.
    *
    Bonus round of Mike Pence quotes:
    "If you and I fall into bad moral habits, we can harm our families, our employers and our friends. The President of the United States can incinerate the planet. Seriously, the very idea that we ought to have at or less than the same moral demands placed on the Chief Executive that we place on our next door neighbor is ludicrous and dangerous."
    *
    "Leaders affect the lives of families far beyond their own 'private life'. In the Bible story of Esther we are told of a king who was charged to put right his own household because there would be 'no end of disrespect and discord' among the families of the kingdom if he failed to do so. In a day when reckless extramarital sexual activity is manifesting itself in our staggering rates of illegitimacy and divorce, now more than ever, America needs to be able to look to her First Family as role models of all that we have been and can be again."
    *
    "If our leaders flinch at this responsibility, they would do well to heed the Proverb 'if a ruler listens to lies, all his officials become wicked,'" he added. "Our leaders must either act to restore the luster and dignity of the institution of the Presidency or we can be certain that this is only the beginning of an even more difficult time for our land. For the nation to move on, the President must move out."
    *
    "Further, the Presidents (sic) repeated lies to the American people in this matter compound the case against him as they demonstrate his failure to protect the institution of the presidency as the 'inspiring supreme symbol of all that is highest in our American ideals.'"
    *
    Of course, all of these had Bill Clinton as a target, not the equally or even more immoral Trump.

  • fredcage
    January 11, 2019 at 10:08 a.m.

    Our evangelical leaders were proud to be photographed in prayer with President Trump in the Oval Office. They saw themselves bowing before God at the seat of political power. He perceived them to be bowing before him in obeisance. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel of Trump to every creature.

  • limb
    January 11, 2019 at 10:14 a.m.

    Thank you Ron West.
    Nothing has done more damage than Trump- following christians. Certain church leaders have a lot to account for. Fear, fear, fear is extolled at many. I had to listen to a minister constantly say “they will hate you because you are christian” over and over throughout his sermon. Happened to be an associate at Fellowship Bible. It started with Y2K at these churches and became ripe to follow an authoritative con man like Trump.

    Many churches became gun and flag waving hypocrites. Look at the flag worship at 2nd Baptist LR on their lawn each year. They give away a huge TV in the midst of a Christmas Nativity. We have two in active duty. The support of military is okay but gets weird from “churches"; their military mission is clear; to kill the enemy. These places pay no taxes which gets stranger..
    St. Andrews Anglican was begun specifically in opposition to the Episcopal churches inclusion of gay ministers citing adherence to scant scripture while ignoring stoning adulterers. Others like Methodists plan to follow with similar splits.

    I’m sure many more preach a high moral ground to reduce other’s all wrapped in a literal rendition of scripture. For example, reducing women to lesser roles cuts across most faiths.
    It’s hard to stick with a faith home when faith leaders can’t love but fear.

  • Packman
    January 11, 2019 at 10:52 a.m.

    Hey 23cal - It's always amusing to see libs that support the wanton killing and dismemberment of babies in the womb attempt to claim ANY moral high ground anywhere at anytime. Amusing and sad at the same time.
    .
    Hey LIMB - I'm sure evangelicals and all people of good nature would support an anti-Semite like Rashida Tlaib who uses the term "motherf***er" in casual conversation with her 13 year old child and then shouts the vulgarity into a microphone in mixed company to as part of a rallying cry against President Trump. Now THAT'S someone for evangelicals to embrace!

  • fredcage
    January 11, 2019 at 12:24 p.m.

    Packman has a point. Religious leaders have no business identifying either political party as more righteous than the other. Every political party will take some positions contrary to the teachings of Jesus. Pastors should preach the gospel and let their congregants choose individually which party best serves the nation. Paul built churches during the age of Roman tyrants but he writes nary a word about Nero. He reached the powerful by winning one person at a time.

  • limb
    January 11, 2019 at 6:51 p.m.

    Pack, Tlaib uses foul language. She’s not aligned with evangelicals. I doubt she is anti-semite. Show us proof there. I don’t know anything about her.
    Trump is aligned with evangelicals. I notice his foul language also.

    I can’t address your abortion issue. I personally want anyone to have a choice about what grows inside their body and they can meet their maker on their own. I am not aligned with evangelicals. I am not aligned with democrats or republicans.

  • carpenterretired
    January 11, 2019 at 9:31 p.m.

    Well Trump is living validation of the religious dogma of evil and by getting in bed with him Evangelicals filed moral bankruptcy this column gives hope that it may just be chapter 13 rather than 7.

  • Lifelonglearner
    January 11, 2019 at 10:33 p.m.

    Hey Packman, I think abortion should be as rare as possible, but until churches and government do everything possible to help with ALL of the medical, housing, employment, educational, etc issues involved to include having sufficient, qualified adoptive and foster parents ready and willing to take over, it is still just about controlling women, not taking care of the child. Gov Asa is trying, but the Ledge still under funds and mismanages the foster care and adoption systems.

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