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The Phenomenal Rise of Donald Trump and Evangelicals in America

The Phenomenal Rise of Donald Trump and Evangelicals in America


By David W. Virtue DD
March 3, 2016

It is often said that evangelicals in America are theologically 3000 miles wide and two inches deep. Many are asking, has this now slipped to one inch?

The rise of a man who defies Christian doctrine and Biblical teaching at multiple levels, is something we have not seen since Ronald Reagan, a divorced and remarried man, stepped into the White House, also with the approval of America's evangelicals, who ditched an evangelical president, in the person of Jimmy Carter.

SO how has it come about that a thrice married man who says he does not need the forgiveness of God, tells lies about his real wealth, (is it $10 billion or really $4.5 billion as Forbes says?). He publicly humiliated his first wife while having an affair with another woman. His name is all over a casino that features a strip club; and, when he went bankrupt, laid off 16,000 employees in Atlantic City, according to a woman my wife and I met in Mexico. He praises Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, and said he once supported partial-birth abortion. The list goes on and on.

Like Zeus, he hurls lightning bolts at anyone who crosses his pathway that he doesn't like, or who doesn't agree with him. The public temper tantrums on television are frighteningly juvenile.

Trump has broken at least five of the Ten Commandments:

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (He has made an idol of money.)
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work. (Trump goes to church when it suits him politically, or for a photo op, but will do whatever is in his own best interests on the Sabbath.)
Thou shalt not commit adultery. (Think three marriages)
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. (He threatens to sue anybody who disagrees with him, but rarely follows through.)
Thou shalt not covet...his ostentatious lifestyle speaks for itself.

As for the Seven Deadly Sins: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Laziness, Wrath, Envy and Pride, I can think of four of these he is guilty of, but let's not quibble over numbers.

A psychologist I know and respect, says Trump's grandiosity, criminality, sadism, and scapegoating are the characterological stuff of a tyrant.

He says Trump suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. "The core features of NPD that are recognized in DSM, are a grandiose sense of self-importance, preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power and brilliance, a belief in being special or unique, a strong need for excessive admiration, a sense of entitlement, interpersonal exploitativeness, a lack of empathy and prominent envy (APA 2000)."

Does this sound like Donald Trump?

If only half of this is true, why are hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of evangelicals, voting for this man, who, when he learns he has won yet another state, cries out to the media, "I love evangelicals, they are my friends." REALLY.

That Trump got endorsement from a number of leading evangelicals, including the president of Liberty University, because they said they were looking for a "Commander in Chief", not a "Pastor in Chief", and "he will make American great again," is positively mind blowing.

As one columnist put it, "Mr. Trump's character is antithetical to many of the qualities evangelicals should prize in a political leader: integrity, compassion and reasoned convictions, wisdom and prudence, trustworthiness, a commitment to the moral good."

And yet millions of evangelicals are voting for him. Why?

Let me give you ten reasons (there may be more).

It's the Establishment, stupid. Americans of all religious persuasions, but particularly evangelicals, are sick of Washington politicians. The Senate and House have a disapproval rating of 90%! Nothing is getting done. When Mitch McConnell (KY) says he will not even consider a Supreme Court nominee, even though it is the President's prerogative to choose one, it only confirms to the minds of evangelicals that Washington is deadlocked, held captive by the Tea Party on one side and far left politicians on the other. They are angry and disillusioned with Washington's overpaid elite, who have better medical plans and retirement packages than they will ever have.

Evangelicals in America are feeling increasingly powerless, in a world where pluralism, diversity and inclusion is pushing them to the curb. They are despised by Hollywood elites who paint them as morons and worse. Evangelicals are losing in the Culture Wars on multiple fronts, and that is unlikely to reverse any time soon.

Homosexuality. Evangelicals are deeply offended when the White House lights up in rainbow colors for gay marriage ... for a group of people who represent less than 2 per cent of the population. Evangelicals see this as a great betrayal of the Christian America they had come to believe in.

Evangelicals resent a president who will allow and encourage Syrian Muslims to come to America, but not Syrian Christians.

Many evangelicals still think President Obama is a Muslim. While this is not true, he is perceived as very pro Muslim and very hostile to evangelicals. On that point they are right. As a liberal Protestant, it is natural for him to hate and despise evangelicals. Just take a look at what has happened to evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics in The Episcopal Church! Spong is to TEC what Obama is to Black evangelicals.

Millions of evangelicals feel left out of the economic gains made over the last few years. It is ironic that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have this much in common. Sanders says the poor are getting poorer and the Middle class is sliding into poverty while the one per cent are getting richer. Trump says much the same thing, and promises huge tax breaks for the Middle Class (hoping perhaps that will trickle down to America's poorest.) But as we all now know, trickle-down economics is a myth, with money making its way up the ladder, not down.

Evangelicals perceive that the Bush's and the Clinton's are playing ping pong with the White House, and this is little more than political oligarchy at its worst, which they see, and Trump despises.

Donald Trump is NOT a politician, and that is one of his core strengths. He's playing up his role as a businessman who will run America like a business. He accuses Obama and Clinton of being little more than community workers with law degrees, who are giving away the shop to anybody who asks for it. Evangelicals perceive themselves as hard working, infused with the Protestant Work Ethic, and they are watching Blacks, Gays and any other aggrieved groups, demanding to feed at the public trough, when they, as Evangelical Christians, neither can nor will. Evangelicals are watching their tax dollars being frittered away on unwinnable wars and myriad social programs they either do not have access to, nor would they, in their pride, take advantage of.

This is no longer about being a Republican or Democrat or even a libertarian. Trump is none of these. He is not even that conservative. He goes with the wind on any number of issues, and evangelicals don't care. They are tired of the status quo. They are tired of watching the America they once knew, being destroyed by liberals and people like Obama. Christian America is dying or possibly dead in their minds.

Trump's signature call "I will make America great" resonates deeply with evangelicals who feel disenfranchised, and they are prepared to overlook Trump's obvious sins, to recover an America they thought was lost forever to them. He is their earthly savior, and they will follow him to the gates of Hell if need be.

But they might want to reflect on a certain rich man who built bigger and better barns, and God said, "Thou fool, tonight your soul will be required of you." Pride still comes before a fall.

FOOTNOTE: VOL takes no position on which politician or which party Evangelicals should vote for. That is not the purpose of this column. I am an unashamed evangelical Anglican.


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