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America's Evangelicals gave Trump Pathway to Victory

America's Evangelicals gave Trump Pathway to Victory

COMMENTARY

By David W. Virtue DD
www.virtueonline.org
November 14, 2016

The nastiest national election in modern American history is over. The winners are jubilant; the losers are in tears. But the political fallout has deeper moral and theological implications that could change the direction America is going in; and many believe that could be for the good. Issues like religious freedom, Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court, Obamacare, lower taxes, better business opportunities and much more. On the other hand, deporting 11 million Mexicans, building a wall, raising tariffs on Mexico and China, rescinding an Iranian deal and the character of Donald Trump are viewed negatively if you happen not to be white and middle class. How it all works out remains to be seen.

It was America's evangelicals who gave Donald Trump an overwhelming mandate -- 81% of them gave Trump their vote. One blogger summed it up by saying, "Too many white evangelicals want an angry, vengeful, violent Caesar not a loving, peaceful non-violent Messiah. They want Trump not Jesus. The Kingdom of God will not arrive on Air Force One. The Kingdom of God has already arrived -- on a donkey, at a table & on a cross."

Trump turned American politics upside down and Evangelicals made Trump's candidacy; now they need to help remake his presidency. At 29 percent, they were the biggest single bloc of voters. The Roman Catholic Church came in second with 23 per cent.

This week, maps were redrawn. Political realities were upended. America was redirected--and, for good or for ill, Evangelicals were a big part of that reality. White Evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Trump in the general election, after propelling his campaign in the primaries.

Many Evangelicals didn't follow the leaders who warned them away from Trump. These Evangelicals, and many Americans, were angry enough to vote for a stunningly unpopular candidate who promised change. It turns out that that basket was a lot bigger than many people expected. Many evangelicals held their noses and voted for Trump.

We knew that half of America would be outraged, but the surprise is which half, writes missiologist Ed Stetzer. "Now the world is outraged. And much anger is being directed at Evangelical Trump voters. Yet we need to remember that Trump voters are not Trump. Trump's supporters--like many Americans--are complicated."

It now appears that Hillary Clinton made three palpable mistakes.

Her "basket of deplorables" included millions of evangelicals who were angry at her East (and West) Coast elitism... they represented roughly a quarter of the American populace.

She was seen to be in bed with Wall Street and forgot about Main Street and the main streets of small town America where unemployment runs high and jobs in the rust belt and coal belt had run out and wages have not gone up in 40 years. Those at the top one percent had grown fatter and richer while the bottom ninety percent including the Middle class and poor had sunk and were sinking faster with each passing year.

Thirdly, Culture War issues caught up with her. Middle America are family folk, married with children. They are sick and tired of sodomy, gay marriage and transgender bathroom issues being pushed down their throats. They had had enough and told her so in the ballot box. Anger at her ability to raise millions of dollars in speaking engagement for herself and her husband also ran deep.

Most Americans are not anti-Mexican, they don't hate immigrants though they think illegal immigration is an economic and criminal problem; they believe America is a multi-cultural society, but they got sick and tired of politically correct speech codes. They said enough is enough.

They also saw her as having little or no desire to change Washington which has an approval rating of 9 percent. Trump says he will "drain the swamp" and stop the pork barrel, consultants and an overweight bureaucracy that hampers growth in America. Will he succeed, time will tell.

In the end they held their noses and voted for Trump against all the media and social pundits who said the election would go to Clinton. (She won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College vote).

In losing, Clinton blamed FBI director James Comey but that is too disingenuous by half. Her numbers actually picked up slightly when he said for a second time that nothing was found in her e-mails that were indictable.

"So it's easy to say that Americans voted for Trump because they hate women or minorities, but that's the lazy analysis, unfair to many. Most don't. They are not a basket of deplorables. Many are people who are voting because of what they believe, and they've elected Donald Trump as America's next president.

"So, as the dust settles, we ask ourselves, what do we do next? Here are five thoughts to consider after this election:

1. Accept the outcome and what it means. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly. One thing we saw is that the ideological chasm between rural and urban America is wider than we ever realized. For a long time the cities were the cultural centers, but there are people all over this nation and they have used their voices. Those who had a different view should hear and seek to understand.

Casting our votes doesn't mean our job is done.

2. Stay in the game. Don't cast off issues that came to the surface in this election. Stand up for the unborn, raise voices for religious liberty, care for refugees, pursue racial reconciliation, and more. Share the love of Jesus in an angry moment in our culture.

3. Avoid the temptation of further division. In fact, work proactively to mend fences and unite. This isn't the time to point fingers and say "I told you so," or to assign blame. We need each other more than ever, and the lines that divided us over these last few months cannot be allowed to grow deeper. It is time to heal, and remember that we are called to forgive even the deepest slights. No matter what side of the aisle we were on--or even if we were sitting on the sidelines or in the middle--we all wanted something better for our country these past 18 months. But we seek a different and better place altogether, and we stand united in that.

I know that's not what many want to think or say. But that's what we seek to do as Americans. And it's even more appropriate for us as Christians, writes Stetzer.

President Trump will be president for all of us; just as President Obama was. We need to pray for him to be a good leader.

We can be prophetic and still seek to pull this divided country together.

4. Don't give up on character. Now that Donald Trump is President-Elect, we need to demand greater character. Donald Trump's actions, comments, and attitudes were shocking, and it's shocking that Evangelicals have so drastically changed their views about character. Now, this does not necessarily mean everyone who voted for Donald Trump changed their views about character. But statistically there was a sharp swing in the willingness to accept and defend behavior that was egregious. I (Ed) recently shared data showing that the people of God, who are called to hold to the highest standard of morals and ethics, now rank as the highest group percentage-wise of those who say that these things don't necessarily matter.

There are many Evangelicals who voted for Trump, and many Evangelicals who advised him. It's time to advise him now that immigrants are made in the image of God, women are not tools and toys, racial and religious prejudice must be confronted, and so much more. The answer is not for us to change our views on character, it's to help a flawed candidate become a President of character.

Evangelicals who elected Trump now need to call him to a better way. Evangelicals made Trump's candidacy; now they owe it to the world to help remake his presidency.

5. Repent and forgive where needed. This election has held up a mirror to our nation, and what we saw wasn't pretty. It brought out the worst in us, but remember, the worst was already there--out of the mouth the heart speaks. We saw the ugliest versions of our collective self, and if we don't admit it we will never be better than we were at our lowest point. It's time for us to repent. We may need to repent of things we have said. We may need to repent of things we have not said. We may need to repent of anxiety that has gripped us because we were worried about temporal things. We will all be tempted to look at each other warily after this, but it's time for grace. Our ultimate enemy is not Donald Trump, or Hillary Clinton, or each other. Our enemy is Satan and he has been defeated. Nothing can change that.

6. Hope. Is it too much to ask to hope that Donald Trump will be a better president than he has been a person? Perhaps it is, but at this point, that's what we can hope and pray.

END

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