There is something rotten within many American churches today.
The rot is pervasive and easy for everyone to see. It is damaging to American churches and their future viability. The rot I’m referring to is unabashed hypocrisy.
I write this as a former Evangelical Republican. Up until December of 2015, I was a registered Republican. I considered myself to be a Christian Conservative for the majority of high school. With regard to only my faith today, I am still an Evangelical. As an Evangelical, the Trump era has made me angry and concerned for the future of many American churches. Evangelical Republicans and Christian Conservatives have abandoned the Biblical principle of the ends do not justify the means for the sake of advancing their political agenda. Evangelicals have some to gain politically on certain important issues, such as abortion, by enthusiastically supporting the President. But those political gains will be dwarfed by many tangible losses, such as lower church attendance if they continue on this self-destructive path.
Conscience demands that I explain why I am angry, why many young people of similar faith and upbringing are angry. We are shocked at the hypocrisy of many American churches and their leaders. We are perturbed by how time and time again, during the Trump administration, many churches continually excuse the supposedly inexcusable. Many of us are dismayed at the failure of many American churches to live out the Gospel in the modern political arena. Most of all, we are horrified that Evangelical Republicans and Christian Conservatives continue to support the President, even though he is the antithesis of everything that we believe.
The year 2016 provided plenty of reasons why I refuse to support Donald Trump. In addition to telling falsehoods about undocumented immigrants and mocking a disabled reporter, the infamous “Grab ’em by the p*ssy” video thoroughly convinced me that Donald Trump is a vile man with no scruples or conscience. He exemplifies a life lived antithetical to Scripture. I fully expected that Evangelical Republicans and Christian Conservatives would reach the same conclusion without hesitation and reject Donald Trump. Much to my shock, the polar opposite occurred; they embraced Trump. Evangelicals’ enthusiastic support of a thrice-married philanderer who has slept with a porn star is disturbing, given that they claim to defend the sanctity of marriage.
Even though the President is an unapologetically flawed man, many Christian Conservatives and Evangelicals still support him.
They justify their support solely on fact that Trump claims to hold the same values on certain political issues. In 2016, I got into an online discussion with the senior pastor of the church I attended in my childhood; the discussion was over abortion and whether or not Donald Trump was truly pro-life. I explained to him that I believed that Donald Trump was not really pro-life and that he was claiming to be pro-life in order to ensure the support of Evangelicals within the Republican party. My former pastor responded by calling Hillary Clinton “Madam Butcher” with regard to her position on abortion and implied that he would be supporting Trump by replying to me that “[Trump] is our only hope [to stop abortion].”
His responses shocked me for two reasons. First, no matter how much my former pastor insists, the President shows no regard for the sanctity of life, both in and out of the womb. It’s true that Hillary Clinton is certainly no friend of the pro-life movement, but neither is Donald Trump. Recent events have further illustrated that the President cares not for the lives of vulnerable children, using their legal status as a justification for his contempt. More importantly, I was shocked by my former pastor’s response because he too seemed to forget that the ends never justify the means; he had preached on this principle during my high school years. I remember he had preached on 2 Samuel 6:6-8, the account of God smiting Uzzah for touching the ark of the covenant as King David attempted to bring it into Jerusalem.
I distinctly remember the point of his sermon because he had stressed it over and over throughout his message: the ends never justify the means.
Thus far during the Trump era, Evangelicals have made it abundantly clear that they are willfully ignoring the Biblical principle of the ends never justify the means. They are ignoring that basic principle for the sake of political victories, such as abolishing abortion.
On issues like abortion, I align with Christian Conservatives and Evangelicals. I oppose it. I believe that abortion is the cruelest thing that can be inflicted upon another human being. But I will not align myself with a politician merely because he claims he is pro-life. Nor, more importantly, will I support a President who has proven time and time again that he is incapable of decency. I will not support a President that calls other countries “sh*t-holes.” I will not support a President that thumbs his nose at the rule of law, nor will I support a man that implies that undocumented immigrants are insects or pests. A political and moral issue cannot and must not be used as the justification for supporting an evil man. The ends never justify the means. Period. End of story.
My personal experiences at a public university also compel me to warn of the real-world consequences of Evangelicals’ hypocrisy. Enthusiastic support for the President will continually erode their moral authority on issues related to the sanctity of life and marriage. More tangibly, Evangelical attendance numbers, especially with young people and racial minorities, are already beginning to drop and will continue to do so. Most importantly, given that the President shows contempt for countries that are not the United States, Evangelicals are hindering their ability to spread the Gospel globally to different people groups who are diverse in language and custom. Evangelicals cannot expect to effectively spread the Gospel when they quietly excuse or ignore the President’s awful comments about other countries.
I demand that Evangelical Republicans and Christian Conservatives reexamine their unwavering support of this President. I beg them to reevaluate and readjust the manner in which they approach the political arena. Their political participation, as it is now, does not advance God’s Kingdom; instead, it makes a mockery of everything our Lord commands us to do. My hope is that Evangelicals and Christian Conservatives will remember these words from Isaiah 1:17 (NKJV) as they approach the political arena:
Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.
The world is watching closely what Evangelicals and Christian Conservatives do. Thus far, at least politically, they have utterly failed to live as an example. And American churches are beginning to reap the consequences in the pews.