THE THEOLOGICAL ENGINEER  



Reasons for Trump, Trumped by Reason

Christians and the 2016 Vote


By Jeff Laird





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Part 1: Donald Trump and John Proctor


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The prior post briefly discussed spiritual arguments related to this issue.
I recently gave explicitly spiritual reasons for my refusal to vote for Donald Trump. My view is certainly not that no "real Christian" supports Trump. Or that any Christian who votes for him, for any reason, has some kind of spiritual problem. I fully understand the struggle this kind of election presents to the Bible-believer. But, as I see it, the balance of reason and faith makes any vote for him unwise.

That's the point of this post: to show how the "yeah, but" arguments in favor of Trump simply aren't enough.

Late-night comediennes and other hacks notwithstanding, this view is not rare among evangelicals. Mainstream media frequently marries evangelicals to Trump, but actual data indicates the opposite. Rather, the myth of Christians flocking to him is just that: fictional. As in, "contradicted-by-actual-statistics" fictional. For starters, in the primaries, most evangelicals have chosen a different nominee. Poll respondents who indicated a more serious involvement in their faith were less likely to support Trump. In fact, survey participants who self-identify as evangelical Trump supporters are disproportionately uninvolved in the faith.

Reference to those facts does not mean (or imply) that support for Trump is somehow evidence of a Christian who's spiritually shallow. It does mean, despite what some like to think, Trump is in so sense whatsoever the "Christian's candidate." In truth, even those evangelicals who plan to vote Trump frequently give only one justification: to "vote against" a potential Clinton presidency.

That being said, other than blowing up the false media narrative, this data should at least give the undecided Christian voter pause. Please consider that, as things stand now, a considerable proportion of those who put serious thought into their faith consider him off-limits, for any reason.

As an aside, some Christians I know plan to vote Democrat, just to block Trump. My perspective makes it hard to justify that choice, which I find a little upside-down. But that's a discussion for another time.

As a Christian writer, teacher, and apologist, I think positive Biblical principles are enough to settle an issue. The prior post, for me, does just that. But I'm aware of the myriad arguments being put forward, by Christians, to vote for Trump anyway. Below are contentions to that end I've heard, from evangelical Christians in particular. In my analysis, these all fail.

Christians can't overlook Trump's blatant faults simply because we...

1) ...think every non-Trump vote is a vote for his opponent. This isn't true literally, or morally. If you could have voted for X, but did not, then your vote was "for" only who it was "for," which was someone other than X. Period. This, always linked to #2 and / or #3, is probably the most common Christian argument for voting Trump, and the most frustrating.

In reality, this is right from politicians' bag of dirty tricks. It's the reason our two major parties feel no pressure to change. Voters have succumbed to the parlor trick that your vote is either "Republican," "Democrat," or "wasted." Myths notwithstanding, you are not responsible for candidate X winning simply because you choose not to vote for the most competitive alternative. Christians should not let their votes be held hostage. tweet

This mindset is so ingrained that people often assume there really are only two candidates. I've told people I would never vote for Trump, then watched them go bonkers assuming (wrongly) that I'm voting for the Democrats' nominee. Or, (wrongly) that I'm not voting at all.

Note, also, that those of us planning to vote third-party can make the same accusation: candidate X is going to win unless you all unify behind my guy. Why does popularity get to decide who other people ought to vote for?

2) ...want to block the Democrat Party's nominee (i.e. Hillary Clinton). This is distinct but closely related to argument #1. Some Christians feel a moral obligation to prevent the "worse" candidate from taking office, so they plan to vote for that person's most competitive opponent.

This is the "lesser of two evils," in a more literal form. But it's based on a deceptively false premise: that God wants me to do "evil," as long as it's "less evil" than something else. The prior post showed why this is self-refuting, and certainly not a biblical attitude. In truth, it's blatant moral compromise, even "scheming" (Ephesians 4:14). Can we really claim God wants Christians to actively aid a wicked person's climb to power, ever? Even if we think it stymies another evil person?

Voters who routinely "vote against" give major parties no pressure to provide quality candidates. Or to supply a legitimate platform. Rather, they need only convince voters that "the other guys" are worse, so you "have to" vote for party X. That con job is why we're in this mess in the first place: repeatedly voting for lousy candidates because we're convinced the other party's candidate is even lousier.




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Published 5-31-16