I am not a numbers person. The truth is, I am not a detailed person at all. I think big picture and get lost in the minutia of particulars. But there is one number that I simply cannot ignore. I have tried and tried to get this number out of my mind. I have tried and tried to let it go and move on to other things. But I can’t. This particular number is driving my crazy because I can’t wrap my mind around it. This number has made me question many things I have believed my entire life.
What is that number, you ask?
Here it is:
81% of evangelicals voted for President Trump!
Let that sink in.
That’s a huge number!
That number is so large it cannot be ignored, or brushed aside, or treated as if it means nothing.
In churches, where members vote on a new pastor (which is most evangelical churches), 81% would be enough for Donald Trump to “answer the call.”
If you were part of that 81%, please know I am not mad at you or angry with you, and I am not being judgmental. I know you may think I am, but, I promise, in my heart, I bare no animosity. Everyone has the right (and duty) to vote their conscience. Many of my parishioners and friends and family are included in that 81%. I love each of them, and I don’t think less of you. This post is not a condemnation directed at you, personally. Remember, I think big picture and get lost in details. So, as an individual person, I don’t question your Christianity or your sincerity. As an individual person, I will give you the benefit of the doubt. I believe you did what you thought was best in a no-win situation. I believe, you really believe, you voted for the “lesser of two evils.” I understand that. I get that. But still, 81% of people who claim to follow Jesus voted for a person whose life is antithetical to that claim.
The justification is, “I was voting for a president, not a pastor. Besides, no candidate is perfect.” To an extent, I agree with you. No one is perfect, and God knows I have my faults. But I still believe character is the single most important trait of a leader. Character does not mean perfection, or sinlessness. It simply means a person has integrity and can be trusted to do the right thing. I wasn’t voting for a pastor either. But neither was I voting for a reprobate.
Others rationalized their vote by saying they were not voting for the president, but for the vice-president. But that means you are hoping something bad will happen to the president, and even I don’t wish that.
Still others said their vote was for the Supreme Court. Well, congratulations! You got your conservative justice. But did you sell your birthright for a cup of soup? Only time will tell. Eventually a democrat will be president, and when he (or she) uses the nuclear option to get their Supreme Court judge in place, don’t you say a word! You know what they say about paybacks.
I’m not even upset with President Trump. What he did to become president is amazing. Books will be written about his rise to power. I will pray for President Trump. I will always respect the office of president, and I will always refer to him as “President Trump.” Like it or not, he is my president. President Obama wasn’t as horrible a president as the conservatives made him out to be, and I believe President Trump will not be nearly as bad as liberals claim. I’m not worried about who is, and who isn’t, my president. This world is not my home. My citizenship belongs to another Kingdom. I serve the King of kings. Presidents will come and go. Jesus will always be Sovereign.
My frustration is not with you, personally, or with the presidency of Donald Trump. My frustration is with my tribe–the evangelical church in the United States. What has happened to us? What have we been preaching, and teaching, over the last generation that allowed 81% to believe their only choice was the lesser of two evils? When did we put nationalism and patriotism and policy and political affiliation above our faith? What has happened to our values that, after his first 100 days in office, a leading evangelical voice said President Trump is the “ideal evangelical president”? Really? That can’t be true, can it? Yet after 100 days, the vast majority of that 81% say they would vote for President Trump again! That is just unbelievable to me.
In my humble opinion, the saddest part of that 81% number, is now the evangelical church has lost the moral authority to speak out on issues that are really important. How can we take any type of moral stand on any issue when we put a completely amoral person in office?
Recently, a friend of mine asked, “Who is the leading evangelical voice in our society today?” I laughed and said, “We have no voice in society, period!” The evangelical church is a caricature of what she used to be. We desperately need revival.
I can say this because I am an evangelical. A very frustrated evangelical.