I’ve been pondering why 81% of white evangelicals would vote for Trump. Just some thoughts. I’m no expert on US politics but I think a lot about church. None of this is universal but from what I’ve seen and experienced in American churches it will cover some.
1. Abortion – Hillary is very pro-choice. Trump flipped to pro-life at the start of campaign. Evangelicals will rarely if ever vote pro-choice.
2. Obama – Many, not all, believe him to be a Muslim at best and at worst the anti-Christ. I was added by someone else to an evangelical mailing list that ‘proved without doubt Obama was the anti-Christ of Revelation.’ (Despite there being no mention of the anti-Christ in Revelation.) Many well known Evangelical leaders hate Obama and therefore Clinton by association, no surprise that their people do too.
3. Islam – belief that all Muslims are the same as ISIS and that Hillary is pro-Muslim. Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric is no more than an echo of famous evangelicals like Franklin Graham. Trump resembled recognisable evangelical leaders.
4. Marriage equality – The passing of marriage equality has been received by the Evangelicals as a direct arrack on their faith. This has been backed up by the teaching of many leaders. Clinton was in the executive that passed it.
5. Women in leadership – For generations Evangelical churches have taught complementarianism and male headship. Male only church leadership is the norm. It may be a leap for many who wouldn’t have a female church leader to have one lead the country. For many evangelicals America is equated with the Kingdom of God. For some, ‘One nation under God,’ had become, ‘God’s one nation.’ How can a woman lead God’s one nation.’
6. Siege mentality – There is a belief amongst many evangelicals both in USA and U.K. that they are under siege. That the media and culture are actively seeking their destruction. Every liberal legislative step is seen as an undermining of Christian values. Some of this is justified, a lot of it isn’t. American and U.K. Christians are amongst the most powerful and free people on earth. In recent years we have had to share that power and freedom with people very different to ourselves, but we have not lost much of these freedoms. Yet this has been cast by leaders as a sign of persecution. Sharing power and being persecuted are not the same (pay attention Northern Ireland.) If you’re told you are under attack you will see the enemy everywhere.
When I think of Trump’s campaign I can see that a lot of his rhetoric is mimicry of very well known evangelicals. Tune into Christian television and you will see what I mean. A lot of what he is saying isn’t that different. These channels are funded almost exclusively by donations from evangelicals.
Of course many will have voted for policy. Some for Republican lawyer. Some because they think Mr Trump is qualified. I do wonder if many have voted because they are afraid they are being eroded by the liberal political class, informed by these 6 issues and Trump looks like he will defend them.
The most common words I am reading to describe Trump voters are ‘idiot,’ ‘moron,’ racist’ and ‘xenophobe.’ I don’t think it is that simple and that kind of language will only entrench difference and widen the chasm in society. We can mend things when we work to stand from someone else’s view point.
I couldn’t personally have voted for Trump. My personal conscience and faith would clash with his rhetoric and policy too often but that doesn’t make those who did evil. If I can see things from their point of view I can at least stop feeling sad and angry at fellow Christians. I think many (not all) are afraid, and Trump speaks to fear.