Those who are labeling Trump supporters as “not real Christians,” who are “gullible” and succumb to “magical thinking,” who are mesmerized by a “televangelist”-type-Trump falling at the feet of a “golden calf,” who “will not vote for him” should be reminded who they voted for in previous elections. These same naysayers voted for Romney, Obama, McCain, Bush Sr. and Jr., Reagan, Carter and many others who also claimed to be Christians, who also are in many ways no different than Trump.
The division in the church over candidates is indeed an indictment of Christianity in America. Christians today seem to forget the meaning of “freedom of conscience”– which Christians emphasized when first shaping this nation, because of being persecuted for their opinions and beliefs.
Despite Pastor Robert Jeffress’s explanation for why evangelicals support Trump instead of other candidates, he and others continue to be vilified.
Sadly, not much has changed since the 1630’s.
UPON ARRIVAL TO THE MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY IN THE 1630S, ENGLISH CLERGYMAN AND LAWYER ROGER WILLIAMS OPPOSED WINTHROP’S FORM OF GOVERNMENT. BUT THE COLONY’S RULERS DIDN’T ALLOW FOR FREE THOUGHT OR SPEECH. THEY REJECTED HIS NOTION OF “FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE.”
FIRST THE MAGISTRATES PLACED WILLIAMS UNDER HOUSE ARREST. HE WAS FORBIDDEN FROM DISCUSSING HIS IDEAS. BUT WHEN HE CONTINUED TO SPEAK HIS MIND– IN HIS OWN HOME– THE MAGISTRATES BANISHED HIM FROM THE COLONY. NEXT, THEY CHANGED THEIR MIND AND SOUGHT TO KILL HIM.
WINTHROP WARNED WILLIAMS, WHO FLED, LEAVING HIS FAMILY BEHIND. HIS SUFFERING WAS GREAT AND HE BARELY SURVIVED. BECAUSE OF THIS, HE WROTE ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL TREATISES IN HISTORY, THE BLOUDY TENENT OF PERSECUTION. THOMAS JEFFERSON NOT ONLY READ WILLIAMS’S TREATISE, BUT ALSO JOHN LOCKE’S, TWO TREATISES OF GOVERNMENT, IN WHICH LOCKE REFERENCED OVER 1,500 BIBLE VERSES.
WERE IT NOT FOR ROGER WILLIAMS’S INFLUENCE, IT’S UNLIKELY THOMAS JEFFERSON WOULD HAVE WRITTEN WHAT HE DID IN THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. IN IT, JEFFERSON REFERENCES GOD FOUR TIMES:
- “The laws of nature and nature’s God,”
- All men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,”
- “The Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions,” and
- “The protection of Divine Providence.”
Freedom of Conscience exists because of Christianity. No Christian, just like no American, or no person for that matter, agrees with anyone else on everything. How is labeling and name-calling contributing to the strength of the church, to building people’s faith, rather than destroying it?
Who is the best judge of morality and character? Does one commentator think he knows more than Trump or could lead better? Does another think he knows who is really a genuine Christian or not? Since when are Christians determining that they are the moral authority and high bearers of truth?
None of these questions are answered by whoever is sitting legally, or illegally, in the White House.
Even a self-describing Christian was the Speaker of the House when I worked in the U.S. Senate, who pushed for the “Contract with America,” to restore “conservative, Christian values” who was sleeping with his staffer, for whom he divorced his second wife to marry for a third time.
Yet, another Speaker, also was a Christian, was prosecuted for “concealing sexual abuse with a former male student.” In fact the three men who orchestrated Impeaching Bill Clinton, again while I also worked in the U.S. Senate, were each having elicit affairs. Still today, “Christian” leaders are embroiled in open affairs. And they are still in office.
Evangelicals first need to clean their own house. Otherwise they will be nothing more than piles of bones in a white-washed tomb, used by others thrown against glass houses wondering why the glass isn’t shattering.