This reflection could more aptly be titled “Why Trump can be Dangerous for the Church” or “for Christianity as a whole.”
I’m borderline apolitical, and I try to stay away from political conversations, debates, and arguments. I don’t have authority in this realm. This is my personal opinion. Some might agree with what I have to say; others may definitely not.
Let me begin by stating the obvious: clearly, I cannot judge the heart or religious conviction of our president. That is between him and God. Let me also state that if you vote your conscience—and that means for Trump—you should not be lambasted or criticized or judged (by Christians or otherwise). On the flip side, if I vote my conscience (especially as a Christian)—and that isn’t for Trump—neither should I be lambasted, criticized, or judged.
Trump is dangerous for the church and Christianity as a whole mainly because of his association with it (almost a given as a Republican). I think since liberals/progressives do not associate themselves as much with religion/Christianity, there is not this “muddying of the waters” as occurs with conservative Republicans—in this case, President Trump.
There is a far greater danger of tainting what it means to follow and look like Jesus when one such as Trump claims to be the fulfiller of Christian ideals, morals, and agendas. It makes following Jesus very unappealing and resistible when Trump becomes a (Christian Republican) poster child and spokesperson.
I might agree with and even respect a few of the policies Trump stands for, apart from his character. But “truth” or “being right” without love often becomes just mean (add the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity). Just look at his Twitter account. Look at the way he demeans and ridicules and degrades and taunts. Does this look like Jesus? Like a humble, servant leader? In my opinion, no.
Again, the great danger of Trump is one of association. And again, at least progressives/liberals (except for certain instances) don’t usually attempt to associate themselves with God, religion/Christianity, the Bible, etc., to justify or advance their causes or political party. If I wholeheartedly disagree with their policies, ideals, or agendas, at least I can be comforted in knowing they’re not claiming (or pretending) to be something they’re not. Therein lies the danger of Trump’s association—he claims the “conservative Christian” title. I’m not talking about some of the good things he (supposedly) stands for; I’m talking about his character and words and actions as a person (which are clearly un-Christlike).
I have the utmost respect for a Trump voter who is clear about voting for him because of policies they support, not for his character, love, humility, kindness, or treatment of the opposition. Who vote for him according to their conscience without trying to (impossibly) fit him (as a person) into the Christian/Christlike category. It’s when we go a step further and ignore, turn a blind eye to, or even condone some of his behavior as a person—this is where the danger lies. How easy this makes it, then, for someone already apathetic or skeptical towards Jesus to say, “Well, if that’s what it looks like to be a Christian, then I want nothing to do with it.”
Fellow believers: vote your conscience, and if you vote for Trump, don’t try to defend (most of) his character, words, and actions. Please, don’t make Trump your poster child or spokesperson for what it means to follow Jesus. It doesn’t make Jesus look very good at all.
Photo credit: BBC
If you would like to receive these weekly reflections via email, subscribe to my blog. Otherwise, follow me on Instagram (nielsen_mt), or Facebook (facebook.com/negreiner).