We would all probably feel healthier if we didn’t spend so much time staring at the car crash that is American evangelicalism and politics but it’s Christmas and we all need something to entertain us.
Now I’m not American so I’m neither a Republican nor a Democrat. In that sense, I have no dog in this fight, or skin in this game. This makes me feel like an impartial outsider observer but of course, that’s nonsense. I’m European (citizen of both the UK & Sweden) and even on my most right-leaning of days, I’m probably to the far left of most of the Democratic party. I’d ban all guns, nationalise the health service and rejoin all climate change efforts in a heartbeat, for example, were I the Democratic nominee. So even though I’m anti-abortion I’m not a natural constituent of the Republican party.
I’m also, as a Christian, convinced character is important and I lament the lack of it in the UK as much as in the US. As a church leader, I will and should, lose my job if my character and integrity fail me.
So when it comes to criticism of a President who is habitually spiteful, bitter, vindictive, untruthful, unfaithful, racist, sexist, a baiter of conspiracy theories, prone to massive egotism and a lover of flattery (all this by the way you can learn just by reading 45s own twitter feed) then I’m not a fan. He is a disgrace to the high office he holds irrespective of whether one likes his policies or not.
It has been instructive (although not in a good way) to see the reaction then to the critical piece in Christianity Today (of which I am a subscriber). As I said, it’s not my fight, but ‘good on them’ I thought. Then I noticed another Brit stick his oar in, so I thought, if he can, so can I.
In a piece titled, Evangelical Elites Are Out of Touch, Carl Trueman, who though not in any way a Trump defender calling him ‘a man of reprehensible character’, pushes back on Mark Galli’s piece. He writes:
When someone calls for Trump to be thrown out of office by impeachment or the ballot box, it is reasonable to ask what the available alternatives are. As Mother Theresa is unavailable for the White House, we are really looking at Biden, Warren, or Sanders. I can’t speak to the personal moral qualities of these people, but would voting for them or their policies give Christians any more credibility?https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2019/12/evangelical-elites-are-out-of-touch
It’s a reasonable question and it deserves a reasonable answer. I think Professor Trueman has missed the obvious alternative. One can be both Republican and for the impeachment and removal of President Trump from office. In fact, this is what I’d argue all good Christian Republican should be contending for.
As Christians, it should always be obvious to all people everywhere that we will not lend our support to a man whose ‘record of infidelity, sleaze, and inappropriate attitudes is well-documented’. Assuming I were to support the policies of the current US administration, therefore I should campaign for someone of better character and leadership. I’d be in favour therefore of any other Republican becoming President (I don’t really care) and letting him/her begin to shape the agenda so that when the election comes around Christians cannot be accused of pimping out our vote to anyone who would come our way and pay to get into bed with us as Trump has. Now. were I a Republican, would be the time to get behind President Pence.
Now, let me be clear, I might if I was Republican support (some of) the policies but it is possible to do this without supporting the President and that’s what they should look for. It will be seen in some cases in the voting record but mostly in the public words opposing the manner of Trump’s leadership. Remember the reason Christianity Today called for his removal was nothing to do with his policies and everything to his power-hungry, corrupt, rule-breaking alongside the only consistent character trait which are the immoral ones.
Sadly, American politics is dominated by money so most opponents will keep their head down. They are bunkering down and their strategy is to wait him out. The strategy and calculation will be clear. If Trump loses the disavowals will begin as early as December next year when all those who hope to run in 2024 will begin to create as much distance as possible. If Trump wins again (and he very well might) then the same disavowals and distance will be much harder but still done in 2022 when Republicans start lining up for the nomination. It will be ugly and almost every one of them will be hypocrites.
The alternative should not be seen as between Trump or a Democrat but between Trump and a better GOP and Christians should be leading that campaign.