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Open Letter to Evangelicals Who Voted For Donald Trump

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Stop Hypocrisy; image by Bernard Starr

According to Christianity Today, more than 80 percent of white evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump. This major voting block was decisive, since evangelicals represent 20 percent of all registered voters; the greatest percentages are in Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alabama, W. Virginia, Arkansas, N. Carolina, Kentucky, S. Carolina, Mississippi, and Kansas-- all states carried by Trump.

Congratulations. You and your candidate won. And your support was critical in this victory.

But your enthusiastic endorsement of Mr. Trump, giving him a greater percentage of votes than for George W. Bush in 2004, raises questions about what you really believe--not what you say you believe but what your actions say about your beliefs.

According to every definition that I've researched, evangelical principles are derived from the life and teachings of Jesus as depicted in the Gospels of the New Testament Bible.

Did you vote for Donald Trump because he exemplifies the life and teachings of Jesus? You may try to wiggle out of that implication, but in elevating your candidate to the most powerful and influential position in the world you have tacitly sanctioned what he has personified. Thus--

Will you now say to someone who grabs you daughter's genitals that it's OK because that's what Donald Trump bragged about doing in a recorded conversation?

Will you now cheer those who ridicule women, minorities, veterans, the disabled, and countless others?

Will you now applaud someone who gloats about how smart he is for figuring out how to avoid paying taxes?

Will you now praise businessmen who don't pay their workers or contractors for work they completed?

Will you now encourage others to set up learning institutions that charge exorbitant fees but don't deliver what they promise?

Will you now envy someone who establishes a foundation for his personal benefit, with virtually no contribution from his personal fortune and little of the funds used for genuine charities?

Will you now emulate those who tell you to buy American while they seek-out the lowest priced foreign goods?

Will you now encourage someone to refuse to divulge federal tax returns for fear the documents will reveal shameful evidence of lying, avoiding taxes, earning income from businesses that cheat, divulge a lack of giving, show far less success in business than claimed, or expose business dealings with America's adversaries to whom he may be indebted?

Will you now commend others who insist on deporting undocumented immigrants but who hire them for their businesses at low wages?

Will you now praise people who fact checkers say have lied 74 percent of the time?

Will you now revere the hubristic declaration: "I alone can fix the system?"

If many of these behaviors come back to bite you as they strip away America's democracy, how will you explain your endorsement to your children and grandchildren? How will you explain your vote in a faceoff with your professed religious and spiritual values?

More important, have you thought about what Jesus would say?

Check the Gospels. I think you may have missed something. Then meditate on Jesus' last words, "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do." And ask: Is he talking to me?

When the consequences of your act of endorsement are fully played out, will you be able to forgive yourselves?

Don't count on Donald Trump to ask for forgiveness. He has already admitted that he has never sought God for forgiveness: "I think if I do something wrong. I don't bring God into that picture."

When Moses went up to Mount Sinai to meet God, his followers, fearful about the future after gaining freedom and wandering in the desert, abandoned their faith for a false idol, the golden calf.

Have you now sacrificed your faith to worship at the altar of a new golden calf?

After compromising your cherished principles in exchange for Donald Trump's promises to fulfill your hopes and dreams, will those commitments soon get flushed down his golden toilet?

Bernard Starr, PhD, is Professor Emeritus at the City University of New York (Brooklyn College). His latest book (expanded edition) is "Jesus, Jews, and Anti-Semitism in Art: How Renaissance Art Erased Jesus' Jewish Identity and How Today's Artists Are Restoring It." He is also organizer of the art exhibit "Putting Judaism Back in the Picture: Toward Healing the Christian/Jewish Divide."

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