I am still astonished and appalled by the continuing support of so many white Evangelicals for Donald Trump. As I have written elsewhere, there is nothing about Trump which even remotely resembles the life, teachings, deeds, death, and resurrection of Jesus. How can anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ possibly be blind to the evil character of the current occupant of the White House? Trump is a racist, a misogynist, a homophobe, a self-admitted sexual abuser of women (Remember his bragging about being able to grab a certain part of a woman’s body and to do so with impunity?), a pathological liar, an admirer and promoter of greed, and a narcissistic demagogue who is only concerned with himself. And still many conservative white Evangelicals (many but not all) defend, praise, and almost worship someone who in no way whatsoever reflects the spirit and example of the one they profess as their Lord and Savior.
Many white Evangelical pastors and leaders have made idolatrous and blasphemous statements in support of Trump. Franklin Graham said that Trump’s election in 2016 was because “God showed up” and put him in office. Photos are made public of some of these leaders praying for Trump as they lay hands upon him to bless him and his efforts to destroy our democracy and oppress the poor, minorities, and anyone who dares to speak against him or his actions. There was even a church which placed a sign in front of their building with a photo of Trump and these words: “The Word became Flesh.” (This, of course, is a reference to John 1:14 celebrating God’s incarnation through Jesus Christ.) Just a few days ago, Trump said to his supporters, “We will win in 2020 because God is on our side.” And we recently had a statement from Jim Bakker implying that one’s stance toward Trump will determine whether or not one is “saved.” In other words, forgiving and supporting Trump has become one more “Fundamental” doctrine people must embrace if they want to be “really saved.” So, my question to Evangelical supporters of Trump is this: How do you defend your support of a man who publicly said that he has never asked forgiveness from anyone (including God) in his entire life? (The other question I would like to ask the male supporters of Trump is this: Would you trust a man who boasts of sexually assaulting women with impunity to be in a locked room with your wife, sister, daughter, or granddaughter?) Bakker also recently warned that Trump’s impeachment would lead to another civil war in this country. You may remember that Bakker was involved in a sex scandal and served four years in prison for fraud. Some of those who were a part of the Bakker organization told of how they and the Bakkers would laugh about how gullible people were who sent in their financial gifts and how they might react if they really knew how that money was being spent. And this greedy, religious racketeer dares to make definitive claims about who is “really saved” and who is not!
In the past I believed that white Evangelical support for Trump was a result of willful blindness. Deep down people on some level knew that Trump is an evil and dangerous fraud. But now I’m not so sure their blindness is willful. Seeing and blindness have to do with vision. Each human being creates a vision of life by which they live, make choices, and determine their values, attitudes, and actions. Initially we create this all-encompassing vision. We can modify or replace it whenever we want. But at some point there is a profound shift. We no longer have any power over that vision. It now possesses, controls, and creates us. One of the secrets of a life that is based on love, truth, and integrity is to make sure we create a vision that we and the world can live with and find worthy of our identities as Children of God.
I have come to believe that many white Evangelicals in their support of Trump have become incapable of changing their vision. Their blindness is no longer willful or even intentional. They have become so possessed by their blindness that they cannot distinguish truth from lie, love from hate, compassion from condemnation, justice from oppression, and Jesus from the idolatrous parody they have created and embraced as their Lord.
There are fish deep in underground waters in caves who live in complete darkness. Because they live in such deep darkness, they have no use for eyes. So, many years of evolution have resulted in these fish having no eyes. Even if the sun should shine on them, they will not be able to see. As Helen Keller once said: “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” My fear is that too many supporters of Trump have neither sight nor vision—at least, not a vision that is humane and reflective of the example of Jesus. One’s embrace of evil can be so habitual, prolonged, and destructive that one can lose the ability to “see.” This helps explain the cultic and fanatical devotion millions of people gave dictators in the twentieth century.
Until recently I thought that eventually the final straw would fall which would break the back of the fanatical support white Evangelicals give to Trump. I am no longer sure that can happen. Perhaps Trump did make one true statement. You may remember that he said he could kill someone in broad daylight in front of many witnesses on Fifth Avenue and still have the support of his followers. What does that say about Donald Trump? And even worse, what does that say about his followers?
Trump has brought down virtually every person who has come into his orbit. At some point in time (provided we survive as a democracy), this fanatical and militant element of white Evangelicals will reap the consequences of their cultic worship and following of this false would-be messiah. The stain they will leave on Christianity will take a long time to remove. And that is all the more reason (for those of us who are open to growing our vision into Jesus’s example) to do our best to offer his authentic alternative of the Kingdom of God. Such an alternative has absolutely nothing in common with Trump world or the Christianity of the hoodwinked white Evangelicals who should know better.