Would Evangelicals Vote for the Devil if He Supported Their Cause?
We’ve been hearing this for the last three years, and I don’t think it will go away anytime soon: “All you evangelicals who voted for Trump are so hypocritical. You would vote for Satan himself if he supported your political agenda. As for President Trump, he’s just using you for his own self-gain, but you’re too power-hungry to see it.”
This accusation resurfaced in recent days when the president remained silent during the recital of the Apostles’ Creed at the funeral for President George H. W. Bush. (In contrast, the Clintons and Obamas and President Carter all joined in.) “There’s your evangelical president,” the mockers hooted with glee.
In response, I noted that Trump’s silence, whatever the cause, didn’t bother me in the least since we didn’t vote for him because he was a strong evangelical Christian but rather because he strongly supported issues important to us. And our vote for Trump was just as much a vote against Hillary.
Getting Our Vote Again
The same scenario could easily repeat itself in 2020. If it was Trump against Bernie Sanders or Kamala Harris or Corey Booker or Elizabeth Warren or Beto O’Rourke, Trump would very likely get our vote again.
Not surprisingly, my article drew some sharp responses, including this post on Facebook: “So if a candidate promises to support evangelicals’ political policy issues then issues of morality, honesty, religious commitment, faithfulness and compassion are set aside. It seems that evangelicals will embrace anyone who supports their political agenda no matter how loathsome that person is. They obviously believe political imperative Trump’s adherence to the teachings of their church. Sad.”
This tweet was just as strong: “How is a self-serving act like pandering in order to get elected considered friendship? Would you vote for Satan if he told you he’d end abortion, got rid of gay marriage, and destroyed radical Muslims? Does God instruct us to do wrong in His name to get the right result?”
These are actually fair questions: How far would we go? And how genuine is President Trump’s commitment to evangelicals’ social and political goals?
Let’s answer the second question first: It’s clear by now that Trump is not just playing political games and pandering for evangelical support. For whatever reason, he seems to be acting out of conviction when it comes to nominating pro-life justices or standing with Israel.
I, too, questioned Trump’s convictions during the primaries, quite strongly and quite frequently. I documented his waffling positions and warned against looking to him to defend our liberties, all the while hoping out loud that I was wrong. (Every one of these negative articles, unedited, is reprinted here. I’m not trying to erase or revise the past.)
But after two years in office, after scores of excellent judicial appointees, after pulling out of the Iran deal and moving the embassy to Jerusalem, after undoing many of the radical, pro-LGBT policies of the Obama administration, after continuing to look to evangelical leaders for counsel and input, I believe Trump’s commitment is sincere.
Perhaps the opposition from the left has strengthened his resolve.
Perhaps the close relationships he enjoys with evangelical leaders has impacted him.
Perhaps God has sovereignly changed his heart, even beyond his own understanding.
Either way, I no longer believe he is simply pandering for political favor. In fact, at this point, the burden of proof is on the skeptics: Please tell us why, exactly, we should not believe the president at this point. Please give us your evidence, not just your accusations.
How Far Would We Go?
As for the first question, namely, how far would we go in our voting to realize our social and political agenda, the question is fundamentally flawed.
Simply stated, it accuses us of ignoring our biblical and Christian values in order to gain political power whereas we voted for Trump because of our biblical and Christian values.
Biblical and Christian Values
Abortion is not a political issue to us. It is the paramount moral issue of our generation, the ultimate issue of justice. What could be more “Christian” than fighting against the slaughter of innocent babies in the womb?
LGBT activism is not a political issue to us. It is a moral and spiritual issue, since we recognize that the definition of family and the definition of marriage are the bedrock of society. To tamper with them is to tamper with our foundations.
It’s the same thing with fighting against radical Islam. We see the genocide of our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East as something near and dear to God’s heart. It is not simply “politics,” nor is it another item on the evangelical checklist. It is an issue that concerns Jesus Himself.
These are His family members, parts of His own body. He does not want us to sit idly by as these precious children and women and men are butchered and tortured and buried alive and exiled.
And since, in our view, Trump is on the right side of these issues — issues of morality, of love, of faithfulness, of compassion — we continue to support him.
But there’s more to the story.
Faith Leaders Helping Trump
Evangelical leaders close to Trump give him biblically based input on sensitive issues like immigration and prison reform and the rebuilding of our inner-cities.
They seek to be a positive moral influence on him, whether he listens or not.
Of course, we wish he would not lash out in his tweets at Rex Tillerson or LeBron James or others. We wish he would be more careful and accurate in many of his statements. But we believe that, overall, he’s doing more good than harm, including taking a stand for our most fundamental freedoms.
To be sure, there are lines we would not cross in our voting (for my personal views, see here). But frankly, we do not see Trump as the devil incarnate. And we believe he is standing on the right side of some of the most important moral and cultural issues of the day.
To repeat: That’s why he has our vote, and there’s nothing hypocritical about it.