Ed Stetzer struggles. “Lord, I Thank Thee That I am not Like Those Evangelical Trump Supporters” — “Religious scorn should not flow from our voting choices.”
This embrace of Trump caused some Christian leaders to react variously with disbelief, astonishment, despair, and, often, complete dismissal.
When religious leaders hold one view (strongly), and the grassroots hold another, it’s a recipe for religious scorn.
What we can’t do is scorn our fellow Christians who vote in ways we do not approve. In years past, I generally had to encourage evangelicals to avoid scorning fellow evangelicals who voted Democrat. Now, perhaps we need exhortation to avoid scorning those who vote for Donald Trump.
I get the concerns. Trump has made offensive comments, holds positions with which I deeply differ, and is like no candidate we’ve seen in recent history.
Yet, I am also worried that—whether he is elected president or not—the reaction to Trump’s campaign may harm the evangelical wing of the Church.
Many evangelical leaders are embarrassed by the evangelical support of Trump. That’s reality. Yet, some of those leaders are responding poorly. Our gut reaction is to dismiss his supporters as not being “real” evangelicals, and to question their faith.
I’d like to suggest a different approach.
Rather than looking down with scorn on evangelical Trump supporters, perhaps we should sit down with them, listen to them, and hear their concerns.
There is a struggle evident. There is a lot of “I disagree” that is quite fuzzy – even fuzzier than Trump’s positions. There is an evident distaste for the person bleeding over to finding reasons to oppose – the kind of approach that leads to hate and even violence. There is a complete absence of consideration for the alternative. There is the absence of what actually is in favor of concern raised to new heights about what might be. There is the them vs us problem when it really is all us.
“we should sit down with them, listen to them, and hear their concerns” is loaded with hubris and exactly the human phenomena that started the column: “In the 18th chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells a story about two men who go up to the temple to pray.”
Perhaps by listening, one can learn that one is being guided by fears when those ‘others’ are being guided by actual events and happenings. More than anything else, the evangelicals favoring Trump weight what they know and not what they fear. This includes knowing that Trump is bombastic and whatnot but it also includes knowing that his opposition doesn’t just talk the lie but walks the lie. The difference is important and shows in that Trump has been successful but his opposition has not. Ed struggles with this and many in his congregation are trying to tell him something. We can hope that he listens to them and to Jesus .