It has been three weeks since the election of Donald J. Trump and the fall out has been unprecedented and unpredictable. The national protests to his election were almost immediate and yet one must question why? Even though his opponent Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over two million, everyone was aware of the rules before the election. We elect presidents through the Electoral College for better or worse and until the system is changed through constitutional amendment, that’s what we’re stuck with.
But there is a larger issue to ponder. What does the election of Donald J. Trump tell us about ourselves? What have we learned from this whole ordeal? We have certainly learned not to trust polls and think that their prognostications are an assurance of anything. They are as much a chance endeavor as rolling the dice or pulling a one armed bandit at a Las Vegas Casino. Perhaps that is a bit of an overstatement but you get the idea. There is no substitute for voting for the person you should have voted for instead of throwing your vote away by marking your ballot for an alternative candidate or staying home altogether believing your vote would not matter. There is never an excuse for abdicating your involvement in the election process. Making a wise, measured, cautious decision when it comes to presidential elections is a must. Four years is too long and too much time to give a novice with crazy, racist, divisive, misogynistic ideas control of the reigns of power of the nation. However, that is not really what I want to reflect upon in this blog. I’d like to look at exactly who elected Trump and what it told us.
Of all the demographic groups that have been analyzed for electing Donald Trump, there is one that is quite disturbing and while unfortunate to admit, not surprising. Donald Trump garnered 81% of the White Evangelical Christian vote. How did this happen and what does it say to us? It is difficult to understand the reasoning behind such overwhelming support from any “Christian” group for Donald Trump when you consider the things that we learned about him during this campaign season. His campaign moniker was his racist, xenophobic, misogynist, divisive, war mongering rhetoric along with his mocking of the physically challenged. His so-called “locker room” comments about how to disrespect and sexually assault women while suggesting committing adultery did not deter White Evangelical Christians from voting for him in overwhelming numbers. The same White Evangelicals who excoriated Bill Clinton for his sexual improprieties with Monica Lewinski were willing to support and vote for Donald Trump. How can one explain this inconsistency?
There is a Biblical story that comes to mind when thinking about this election found in 1 Samuel 8 from the experience of the nation of Israel. Israel was a theocracy; meaning God was their king. He used prophets as His mouthpiece but God was the one who led, guided, protected and directed the affairs of Israel. When Samuel the Priest of Israel grew old and appointed his sons as his successor, Israel grew tired of the theocracy. Admittedly Samuel’s sons were flawed representatives of God, however, they were only human mouthpieces that could be replaced. God was always the one in charge. But something unprecedented happened. The leaders of Israel came to Samuel and made a request found in 1 Samuel 8:5. “…Appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”
It was the Jerry Falwell Jr. during the Republican primaries that came out early and endorsed Donald Trump when the field of candidates was still quite numerous. Pat Robertson, who invited Trump to a forum at Regents University, soon joined him and then other prominent leading Evangelical ministers followed. In the same way Israel did, Evangelical Christian leaders jumped on the Trump bandwagon, seeking as it were, a human king to lead them, like the nations around them and rejecting Divine rule.
When Israel requested a king God told Samuel to tell Israel what would happen when they “selected” human rule. He said in 1 Samuel 8:9(NIV), “…Warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights.”
God warned in 1 Samuel 8:11(MSG), “This is the way the kind of king you’re talking about operates. He’ll take your sons and make soldiers of them… chariotry, cavalry, infantry, regimented in battalions and squadrons.” On November 12, 2015: This is the Trump theory on war. “But I’m good at war. I’ve had a lot of wars of my own. I’m really good at war. I love war, in a certain way, but only when we win.” Trump has blustered about what he will do to Isis, that he knows more than trained and seasoned military generals and has mentioned his willingness to use nuclear weapons.
1 Samuel 8:13(MSG) “He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.” Trump’s lewd indecent conversation about women in 2005 with Billy Bush has already been publicized. It only served to confirm a lifetime of indiscreet misogyny on his part. The Telegraph, November 9, 2016, in an article titled, “Donald Trump sexism tracker: Every offensive comment in one place,” chronicles Trumps history of sexism, misogyny and other vulgarity toward women beginning in 1980 and extending to the present. There is not enough room in this blog to record all of the indecent, belittling, sexist, incest inferring comments, statements and actions Trump has been responsible for over the past several decades. Having this kind of knowledge about Trump, how can White Evangelical Christians, who claim to be strong advocates of “family values,” explain voting for Donald Trump.
1 Samuel 8:15 & 17—“ He’ll tax your harvests and vintage to support his extensive bureaucracy… He’ll lay a tax on your flocks and you’ll end up no better than slaves.” Not only did Donald Trump never produce his tax returns, like every other modern presidential candidate before him, but it was learned that he wiggled out of paying federal taxes for years using tax loopholes to free him from the responsibility every other citizen is accountable for. Recently it was reported that the cost of protecting the president elect and his family in New York City is over one million dollars a day. It has also been reported that after the presidential inauguration the first lady will remain in New York with her son for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year until he finishes the school term. The additional cost for taxpayers will be astronomical. But that’s what it costs to support kings.
Some may be wondering why am I using a scripture about a king when in America we elect presidents. Do we really? During this election, did we elect a president or a king? When Donald Trump campaigned he never explained what he would do to make “America Great,” just that he would. None of his policies were ever cogently crystallized. None of his initiatives were explained. His campaign was always only about himself and his persona. It was about his claims as a successful billionaire businessman. He publicly showed his admiration for Vladimir Putin, Russia’s dictatorial leader and disrespected the President of the United States. So what office was he running for, President or Dictator? Alan Coren says, “Democracy consists of choosing your dictators, after they’ve told you what it is you want to hear.” It seems that Trump was successful in telling people what they wanted to hear, just enough to get their vote and make him their king.
Samuel ended God’s counsel to Israel with this solemn caution, “The day will come when you will cry in desperation because of this king you so much want for yourselves. But don’t expect GOD to answer.” But Israel would respond, 1 Samuel 8:19 & 20 “No!” “We will have a king to rule us! Then we’ll be just like all the other nations. Our king will rule us and lead us and fight our battles.” Does Israel sound familiar to you? Notice their blind unreasoning close-minded loyalty. No matter what someone says to reason with them their minds are made up concerning who they want to lead them. Have you seen this picture recently?
As troubling as the Trump election has been for many, still it is not America’s decision that is most troubling to me. It is the decision of 81% of White Evangelical Christians. What were my fellow Christian brothers and sisters thinking? When Donald Trump was asked if he ever sought forgiveness from God he responded, “I am not sure I have,” “I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.” When asked who Jesus was Trump responded, “Jesus to me is somebody I can think about for security and confidence. Somebody I can revere in terms of bravery and in terms of courage and, because I consider the Christian religion so important, somebody I can totally rely on in my own mind.” A man who does not feel the need to ask God for forgiveness and who sees Jesus as some kind of person to admire, a confidence builder is the person 81% of White Evangelical Christians voted for as their President. Really?
Confession and forgiveness are essential elements to the conversion process. 1 John 1:9 say, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. When David sinned with Bathsheba, it was his ability to admit his sin and ask for forgiveness that made him a great king. His confession and plea for forgiveness in Psalms 51 is one of the great passages in all of scripture that teaches all Christians our great need for humility, to admit our wrong and confess our sins in order to receive the forgiveness, cleansing and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Proverbs 28:13 says “Those who conceal their sins do not prosper, but those who confess and renounce them find mercy.”
Jesus is more than just a security blanket. He is more than a life coach and confidence builder. When Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” He was not looking for a confidence builder as an answer. Peter said, “Though art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” There can be no doubt about who Jesus is in the life of the Christian. He is not just another good person or powerful security blanket or inspirational sage who has some good advice to give us. When Peter and John stood before the Sanhedrin Council in Acts 4 and were asked by whose authority they preached, taught and healed Peter responded, “Salvation is found in on one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved.” Philippians 2 says “God has exalted him to the highest place and gave him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
In an interview on the Sirius XM Radio Show, Dan Rather’s America, David Frum, a Conservative Republican, and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, called Donald Trump the most secular president in modern history. Yet 81% of White Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump, knowing everything that is known about him. How do they explain this? Please don’t tell me about Supreme Court appointments. Where in scripture does Jesus ever mention or hint that He has called Christians to use the judiciary, the legislature or any form of government to advance his kingdom? His message was the opposite. When asked this question directly by Pilate Jesus responded in John 18:36—“My kingdom is NOT of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” So what were White Evangelicals really saying when they voted for Donald Trump? Who were they really voting for and whom were they voting against. Was it Hillary Clinton or was it someone else.
When Israel came to Samuel and requested a king, Samuel mistakenly thought their request to replace his sons, his flawed successors, was a rejection of him. But Samuel’s vision was too nearsighted. God needed to broaden his perspective. And I would suggest that the 81% vote of White Evangelical Christians for Donald Trump was not just a selection between two human candidates. That way of thinking is much too narrow; too limited and secular for Christians, when such important decisions are being made. This is how God saw the decision of Israel. In 1 Samuel 8:7 it says, and the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not YOU they have rejected, but they have rejected ME as their king.”
So when 81% of White Evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump, whom did they really reject?