I don’t mind being known as a Christian evangelical. But I am not one of those described in the news who want to elect an authoritarian politician who will “make things right,” who calls for loyalty to himself, not the constitution. Those Christian evangelicals seem to be angry that the United States is becoming less of a “Christian nation.” They feel their country is being taken away from them. They remember when stores were closed on Sunday, and when political candidates stated which church they attended. There were laws against some things that have now been changed under the influence of “those liberals” in power. These political evangelicals refer to a particular candidate as their “savior” because he seems to support those views.
Their candidate even has the vanity to post on his website a video one adoring supporter created, that begins by saying: “God looked down on his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a caretaker,’ so God gave us Trump.” Such is the wild fanaticism and hero-worship this season. Some evangelicals say he is like Cyrus, the pagan Persian Emperor, who released the Jews from captivity (around 538 B.C.E.) so they could return to Jerusalem.
I am fully in favor of Christians voting and supporting loudly any candidates they wish. We need to be involved in politics to influence our government for good. But it seems the current trend among this loud segment of evangelical Christians is to accomplish something quite different. They are willing to support a domineering leader who they think will return our nation to some more righteous condition.
Our country is changing. Careful surveys show that on a given Sunday only about 1 7 % percent of the U.S. population is attending any kind of church, a dramatic drop from the 1950's when around 50% were in church. The majority of the U.S. citizenry is leaving churches behind, and their views on public policy, on marriage, sex, abortion, or any number of other hot-button issues, are not the ones these evangelicals support. It makes those particular evangelicals uncomfortable, unhappy, and even bitter. Poling now reports that “Nearly one-third of white evangelicals expressed support for political violence.” Some talk of arrest and prosecution to eliminate those who oppose him. Their tragic radicalism endangers our country.
I am not among them. I am a Jesus follower, easily identified as an evangelical. I don’t want to give up that ancient term which means “bearer of good news.” Nowhere in the Bible are Christians directed to impose their values on others to create a “Christian” society by law and force. The founders of our country knew such things failed. They designed our constitution, instead, to trust that people can govern themselves by electing individuals to shape public policy with the best compromises which we can all live with. That hopeful view of humankind, although considered wildly liberal in the 1700's when our country was born, has been successful for nearly 250 years.
I pray that Christians, and especially evangelicals, will not support any candidate who brings a domineering attitude into politics, promising to shape our country to please them. Doing that will give God a bad name, and embarrass those of us who follow Jesus who told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Let’s be good news evangelicals.
Stan Hagemeyer © 2024
(Reprinted from the Ludington Daily News where it appeared January 16, 2024)