The time has come for religious leaders in this country to lead. The endorsement of Trump, whether overt or by silence is crazy. For individuals of faith to support someone who could care less about their issues displays the blindness of which the Bible warns, and worse, opposes the very core of many Christian values.
Pundits have written about the obvious rifts between Trump's lavish, playboy lifestyle and the views of many republicans and conservatives. Even more removed are evangelicals, who seemingly have less in common with Trump. Indeed, in the normal course of their worldview, a person with Trump's resume and personality would be viewed as something of a modern-day anti-Christ. For many Christians, then, the life and times of Trump could not be more at odds with their main tenets of faith.
Perhaps the most obvious incongruence for the religious is his marriage to a Melania Trump. While little has been made of Melania Trump's nude and sexually explicit photos with another woman, for the religious right, it amounts to sacrilege. Indeed, after so much aversion and outrage over same-sex marriage, which ignited a wave of bathroom bills, "religious freedom" laws, and other anti-LGBT measures, the silence on the potential First Lady's same-sex photo shoot is conspicuous.
Of course, Trump's choice of wife highlights what is another problem -- the fact that she is his third wife. For many, this track record attests to a serial polygamist, who, instead of having multiple wives at once, separates them by divorce. Indeed, his womanizing lifestyle has repeatedly interfered with the well being of his family. It is likely that most Christians would be averse to sharing these types of details with their children for fear; fear of the effect it could have on their young psyche and fear that they might even try to imitate him. Truthfully, however, for parents, allowing the kids to hear Trump in real time is perilous considering the swearing and hateful words that may come from his mouth.
Of course there is the question of Trump's compassion. Whereas, peace and mercy are trademark values in Christianity, Trump's campaign propagates the opposite. His antics include ridiculing a reporter with disabilities, a litany of racial and religious insults, and pushing supporters to violence. Perhaps the most pointed moment came when he stated that "Second Amendment people" could stop Hillary Clinton, which was taken by many as a veiled call for her assassination.
From the religious perspective, Trump and his wife should be viewed as nothing but entertainers, like a Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, trying to get into the White House. The difference is, were Kanye to run for president, many of the same people supporting Trump would find countless reasons not to support Kanye, including his choice of wife. Indeed, ALL of these issues would come up, and more. Hence, the blindness with which Trump's followers follow is apparently not colorblind.
Even his political juxtaposition against an unpopular adversary, Hillary Clinton, lands him further from the Christian ideal. Indeed, she sits embroiled over endless email disputes about a charity dedicated to disadvantaged people, while he conceals his own charitable contributions by not releasing tax returns. Imagine the difference: she has helped raise an estimated two billion dollars in charity, yet American still do not know how much he has personally given. Moreover, she has dedicated her life to lawyering for social justice and public service, whereas Trump has been noted as among the least charitable billionaires in the world. He has spun through wife after wife, while she has stayed with the same man, whom many believe she had every right to divorce. Yet she did not, and made sacrifices to keep her family together.
For Trump, much of this is moot, including the tax returns. Still, for religious people--it is critical--people supporting him deserve to know just how little he has supported them, their churches, and charities. Even if he were to release any returns, those who have been awake for the last year will have every reason to doubt their authenticity. All signs point to the possibility of deceit, especially given the quacky doctor's note that Trump published, not to mention that the stalling has provided ample time for doctoring the returns.
These escapades cannot go unchallenged and should make religious leaders spring into action. It should make them stay up at night, making calls, organizing press conferences, and collaborating with co-religionists to guide their flocks in a morally conscious direction. However, so far there has been near silence, almost as if the leaders are following the followers. Of course angering the congregation is no way to ensure that donations and support keep coming in, but in this case, it may be obligatory.
Leaders must not stray toward political charms like Michele Bachman, who proclaims that Trump was sent to us by God. Instead, they might consider the Pope's message that building walls is "not Christian." In response, Catholic Christians have backed their leader, which has left Trump trailing far behind in the Catholic vote.
As Trump's support from the religious persists, religious leaders have their very credibility at stake. If leaders cannot see eye to eye on the fundamentals of decency -- then the country is doomed -- there is no nation. If the moral leaders will not take a stand to guide their parishes, halls, and congregations to vote with a Christian conscience, they might just end up giving away their religion like the Republicans gave away their party. It is less a hijack than a swindle.
Hence, the time has come for leaders to do an about-face and recognize that this election is more than politics. Trump threatens the very religious freedoms that Christians enjoy today, and it is up to the religious leaders to speak the truth, at any cost. Unfortunately, few spiritual warriors have risen to the occasion.