Why Christian Conservatives Should Seriously Consider #NeverTrump

By George Yancey Published on June 5, 2016

As is clear by now, conservative Christians have a very troubling choice come November. They have a man who has proven himself to be a liar, manipulator and bully. They have a woman who supports none of their values. They can go with a third party candidate who is unlikely to win. Or they can refuse to vote in the presidential election. Some have argued that Christians must engage in the first choice to minimize the damage. I disagree.

Let me be clear. I am speaking to those Christians who are not fooled by the con job Trump used to get the nomination. Those troubled by his willingness to engage in war crimes. Those pained by his insulting of the handicapped, Hispanics and women. Those disappointed in his lack of commitment to their conservative principles. I could go on but you know what I mean. You are not a Trump supporter in the least. Perhaps you were backing Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, Walker, Bush or some other conservative you could trust. Now you are stuck with Trump. But you are being pressured to vote for him because the alternative is Clinton and that is unthinkable.

The major argument I hear is about the Supreme Court. Trump might appoint a good justice; Clinton certainly will not. I understand this concern. Too often the liberal justices act more like legislators than judges attempting to apply the Constitution. On an issue I care greatly about — religious freedom — I have absolutely no confidence in liberal justices or in any appointment Clinton will make. I acknowledge your concern is real.

But there is another perspective you should consider. If Trump is elected president and it is seen that conservative Christians were an important part of sending him into office, then we will carry all of the baggage of his presidency. The immorality, bragging, manipulation and lying will be tied to conservative Christians everywhere. As I have pointed out before, we are already being labeled as Trump supporters in spite of the evidence. We will not be able to fight off this stigma if there is real evidence that conservative Christians helped elect him.

In the short term conservative Christians may get a Supreme Court justice who helps protect religious freedom, and that is good. But in the long run the image of Christians will suffer a terrible blow, right when the forces of Christianophobia have been massing their armies. In many ways those who vote for Trump are exchanging a short-term political victory for a long-term cultural loss. Trump’s flirtation with racism, sexism and authoritarianism reinforce the worst of the anti-Christian stereotypes. His election will help cement cultural beliefs that those stereotypes are true.

If we are going to be able to fight against the anti-Christian attitude in our society, then we have to do so at the cultural level. Cultural beliefs eventually will overcome political victories. Look at same-sex marriage. Conservative Christians won a lot of short-term political victories that made such marriages illegal at the state level. But once the modernist cultural beliefs about the nature of marriage took control in our society, it was inevitable that those laws were overturned. If conservative Christians exchange their ability to influence the culture for short-term political gain, then we will see similar results in other areas of our society.

There are scriptural references about seeking a short-term solution by attaching oneself to a powerful entity. In several Old Testament passages (Isa 30:1-3, Isa 36:6; Jer 42: 13-17) the children of Israel were told not to ally with Egypt but to rely on God for their battles. Egypt tempted the children of Israel towards immoral values (Ezek 23:27, Jer 44:8). Egypt represented an immoral, powerful political force that could temporarily protect Israel — kind of like Trump promises to do. But the children of Israel were called upon to fight their battles without the help of Egypt because an alliance with Egypt would be an alliance with all the immoral elements in that culture. If Christians have an alliance with Trump, then they are allied with all that he brings. It will be hard to wait for God, but such a wait is a better path than accepting Trump’s brand of leadership.

We have already seen what that leadership brings. Many of Trump’s supporters force themselves to turn a blind eye to things they would not normally accept. Make fun of a handicapped reporter? No, he really wasn’t mocking the reporter when he imitated him. Support religious discrimination against Muslims? Discrimination against Muslims is justified because they want to force Sharia law upon us. Repeat the falsehood of 9-11 truthers? But maybe Bush really did know about the attack. How many of his supporters would have supported such rationalizations before the rise of Trump, and how many have turned their back on their own values because of him? Trump once said he could shoot somebody and people would still follow him. For once he was telling the truth.

Christians who vote for Trump will have to turn their back on their values in key ways. Is it worth a Supreme Court judge to do that? Could Trump shoot someone and Christians still vote for him because they hate Clinton that much? There have to be some limits to who earns the Christian vote. There have to be some standards. The candidates supported do not have to be Christian but should they not have a morality? And honestly that is much more than has been shown by Trump. Christians should be careful not to be fooled by the justices Trump is wagging in front of their noses. Alliances with Egypt do not work out.

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