Yes, some Evangelicals will still vote for Trump

It’s difficult to imagine that one-quarter of Americans believe there is a spiritual reality running alongside the election for president, between God and the Devil that is every bit as tangible as the Stars and Stripes

In a country founded on religious freedom, evangelicals have become a booming sideshow in the race to Nov. 8. Evangelicals (I count myself one of them) are faith-filled voters who believe the Bible holds literal words from God and that Jesus is the eternal repair for sin; too often, that’s about all we agree on.

In trying to figure out why a lewd, greedy man like Donald Trump is still being championed by some evangelical leaders, it helps to understand that theirs is not a vote for character, but rather a long gamble on power.

Evangelicals championing Mr. Trump are convinced that he holds a better grip on the Constitution through his promises, such as the ones he made in the third presidential debate to appoint conservative, pro-life justices to the U.S. Supreme Court who would overturn the abortion law known as Roe v. Wade.

Evangelicals who support the Republican nominee believe that their current status as a religious minority and their right to hold, and act on, minority views will be deeply affected by the next judicial appointments. So they are counting on his court selections to protect religious freedoms.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, whose rise to wealth through political power is seen by many as untrustworthy and greedy, has been abandoned by outspoken evangelical leaders. Planned Parenthood’s $30-million (U.S.) campaign to help Ms. Clinton was all the evidence evangelicals needed that there would never be a respect for the sanctity of life should she take office.

Evangelicals, in debating the use of power by these candidates, have a choice to make between the one who is accused of deleting 30,000 e-mails or the one who is accused of sexual assaulting women. It is essentially “Liar, liar pantsuit on fire” versus “Liar, liar pants on fire.” The choice presents a shuddering dilemma.

Consider the conflicting advice that evangelicals are getting from their spiritual leaders. Franklin Graham, whose famous father, Billy, has met with every U.S. president since the Second World War, responded to this race to the gutter by holding non-partisan prayer rallies to call people to “pray, vote, engage” for the country on the steps of every state legislature. The influential evangelical magazine Billy Graham founded, Christianity Today, denounced Mr. Trump as the biblical version of a fool, urging voters to reject him.

That news coincided with one of evangelicalism’s star conservatives, Robert Jeffress, calling those who withhold their ballot because of Mr. Trump’s failings, fools. (For good measure, the Dallas pastor added: “I’m getting sick of these namby-pamby, pantywaisted, weak-kneed Christians who say they are going to stay home in November out of moral principle.”)

Evangelical writer Eric Metaxas challenged voters with this, in The Wall Street Journal: “We are indeed our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers ... A vote for Donald Trump is not necessarily a vote for Donald Trump himself. It is a vote for those who will be affected by the results of this election.’

This is the idea that there really is a battle for good and evil going on. Can belief in God help a voter decide which is the lesser evil? I think so.

Understanding the biblical story of God’s character dealing with thousands of years of flawed humans helps us to navigate imperfect choices, because that is, after all, the world we have created. Any voter has power, evangelical or not, and their votes will affect all our lives.

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About the author

ChristianWeek Columnist

Lorna Dueck has explored the intersection of journalism and Christianity for over 30 years. That curiosity led to the creation of Media Voice Generation (MVG), a community-held Canadian charity that exists to create boundary-breaking media that reveals Christ. Context with Lorna Dueck is the flagship TV show and online production of MVG. Lorna is a regular commentary writer on faith and public life in Canada's leading national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and a frequent media commentator.

About the author