Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Energized Evangelical Christians Face Contradictions with Trump

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Energized Evangelical Christians Face Contradictions with Trump

Article excerpt

Pundits are convinced that the 2016 presidential election is profoundly different from any other, a curious event manifested in markedly different and profound ways.

Now a fractured Republican Party is closing its convention in Cleveland. More startling and significant is the support Donald Trump has garnered from evangelical Christians who are double in population to mainline Protestants. It is estimated that half of evangelicals are excited about the direction Trump wants to lead the nation to "make America great again."

Centuries ago the prophet Hosea observed, "They made kings in Israel, but not by my authority (of God)." Many people of faith maintain that God is involved in all aspects of life. Evangelical leaders like Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, and James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, are in the forefront of energetic efforts to elect Trump. Scores of evangelical ministers participated last month in a meeting with Trump to foster a more viable and vibrant relationship.

Trump also organized an evangelical advisory board to complement his campaign efforts while deluding these faith-based supporters to believe that they now have greater power and influence as his political partners. Neither Trump nor evangelicals see eye-to-eye on every issue nor has Trump put their major concerns front and center in his campaign. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump's running mate, is a reward to evangelicals given his credentials as a solid conservative who can also rally the faithful.

Evangelicals' relationship to Trump is an enigma. It is difficult to understand this strong a relationship involving this community of faith. Evangelicals' engagement in Trump's campaign reflects the fact that their support is not informed by faith but by secular influences and personal preferences. However, two foundational aspects of evangelical faith are based on the requirement to follow the teachings of Jesus and to lead others to Christ. Evangelicals today, however, remain largely focused on social issues, especially abortions and same-sex marriages. Some suggest that while evangelicals have taken the title of Christians, most are not prominently engaged in promoting the common good. …

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