I am the daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of preachers. In high school, college and post-grad I held ministry leadership positions. I attend an evangelical church. But this election cycle I’ve been deeply ashamed of the American evangelical church at large. And because the majority of white evangelicals — 81 percent of that constituency, according to exit polls— supported Donald Trump that shame will extend long after Election Day, thanks to the ramifications of their support not only for women, immigrants and people of color, but for the church itself. I count myself a follower of Christ and always will. I love the church. But I believe the majority of white evangelicals and their leaders, barring a few, have failed not only the U.S., but failed the collective flock in the stance they took. I believe they have a lost a generation and, as they say in the church, “lost their witness” to future generations.
How have they lost their witness? Let’s unpack this:
This past year, the church, which is supposed to be at the forefront of racial reconciliation, supported a racist endorsed enthusiastically by the KKK and neo-Nazi groups.
Jesus uplifted women and evangelicals have strict views of acceptable sexual behavior, but regardless they got in bed with an adulterous and misogynistic sexual predator who has made a cameo appearance in a porn video.
“Thou shalt not lie” is one of the 10 commandments, but they stood behind a fraudulent liar who provided fact-checkers a daily torrent of falsehoods.
Scripture says, “out of the heart the mouth speaks,” but evangelicals voted for a man who has relentlessly insulted, slandered and verbally abused others, including the disabled, and speaks of women in the crassest, most vulgar terms.
Followers of a religion that is predicated on asking for forgiveness clasped hands with someone who said publicly that he’s never repented and doesn’t see a need to.
People called to be peacemakers rallied behind a war-hungry man who wants to give more countries nuclear weapons, extend the scope of torture, close doors to refugees and maligned the parents of a fallen battle hero.
Leaders that cling tightly to their own religious freedom in this country embraced a man who said he wants to ban an entire religion from coming here.
The list goes on and on.
The evangelical movement made a deal with the devil for the sake of power. You didn’t have to vote for Hillary Clinton, but no evangelical should have cast their vote for Trump.
I know firsthand the response evangelicals give: abortion and the Supreme Court. However, we should look to history: we actually haven’t had a liberal Supreme Court since 1969; periods under a conservative Republican president, conservative Republican Congress and a bench stacked deep with conservative Republican appointees in the past didn’t change the law and it is highly suspect that trifecta will do so in the future. Trump until very, very recently was pro-choice (he said in the past he was “pro-choice in every respect”) and supported late-term abortions — and believing that he will actually fill vacant seats with conservative judges who will actually then turn things around is taking a congenital liar at his word and underestimating the enshrinement of Roe v. Wade.
The majority of Americans are pro-choice, so being pro-life should extend beyond simply the choice to abort or not. How about reducing the odds of abortion? After long-range contraception options were readily available and accessible in Colorado, abortion rates fell by 42 percent among teens. That’s 42 percent fewer unintended, unwanted, terminated pregnancies among 15-19-year olds. How about extending pro-life beyond simply the womb and reducing the rates of poverty? We know that abortions happen among the poor most often. Let’s attack abortion from the economic angle. Changing hearts, minds and circumstances, and providing options so abortion is rare are far more effective —and at this point in history more realistic —than a myopic focus on only changing the law.
Evangelicals can go ahead and make their case that abortion and homosexual behavior are wrong. However, Jesus himself never spoke about these issues. Read the red letters. Christ did speak in no uncertain terms about how we are to treat the poor, the stranger, the widow, the orphan and the prisoner. Trump’s views on all of those things, not to mention his idolatry of money, are diametrically opposed to what Jesus, who we followers believe to be the full and final revelation of God, stood for.
In their naked grab to be kings of the world, evangelicals traded the real Kingdom. The Good News was exchanged for a golden ticket. Cardinal church views on money, sex and power were rejected for a seat at the head table. Long after Donald Trump is inaugurated, long after his first presidential term and long after whomever will hold the following term, a closely watching world will remember, millennials will remember, and today’s children will remember the evangelical church’s disgraceful posture in the 2016 election: bowing to Trump, rather than bowing to Christ.