A Christian and Conservative in the Age of Trump
The presidency of Donald Trump, beginning on January 20, 2017, was propelled with a message of ‘Making America Great Again’ by breaking the status quo and exposing the lies of the ‘deep state’ and the ‘fake news’ media who were acting against the interests of the American people. This message largely resonated with Republican voters and, most importantly, white Evangelical Christians. This created a conversation about what it means to be a Christian in America if Trump’s message is able to resonate with this demographic and what identity will be left after Trump’s presidency.
Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ message was riddled in divisive rhetoric even before he took office; his opinions on race, gender, religion and other social issues lacked good reasoning and intent. His talking points were largely devoid of facts, and largely based on conspiracy theories. Despite all these flaws, his message was still able to resonate with Christians, largely white Evangelical Christians and Catholics, to be specific.
It is worth noting that 75% of polled American adults identified themselves as Christians in 2015, and the United States has the largest Christian population in the world, approximately 167 million Christians. This means Christianity as a religious demographic is a huge voting block. Christian denominations in the United States are usually divided into three large groups: Evangelical Protestantism, Mainline Protestantism and the Catholic Church. All Protestant denominations accounted for 46.5% of the population, with the Catholic Church by itself at 20.8%.
In a Trump-Clinton 2016 match-up, Trump was able to beat Clinton in the percentage of voters from all three large Christian groups. This is not surprising, considering previous Republican candidates have also done well in these groups due to the conservative nature of the Republican party. Conservatism in the United States is a broad system of political beliefs that is characterized by respect for American traditions, republicanism and support for Christian values and morals. Conservatives have a deep regard for family values and the constitution and are more likely to take the moral high ground over their liberal counterparts. This broad system of beliefs is largely influenced and infused with Christian values; it is for this reason that most conservatives are more likely to be identified as Republicans. Therefore, it is nothing new for Christian-oriented voters to lean more Republican than Democrat.
The case of Donald J. Trump was an interesting litmus test for Republicans, conservatives and Christians on how far they are willing to stretch their core values and beliefs in order to accommodate this unorthodox candidate's nature. Donald Trump's conduct before the presidency is riddled in scandals, falsehoods, affairs and lawsuits; his bad conduct is well documented in the media, and Republicans are on record describing how inept and irrational his demeanor has always been. He ran on the campaign of exposing the evil elements of the deep state, globalists and the fake news media. Three years into his presidency, he claims to still be fighting those evil elements. He has painted it the fight of good against evil, light against darkness, and he has managed to mobilize a Christian brigade to fight his war. How he managed to convince the masses that propelled him to win the presidency is basic politics and campaigning on the wishes of the electorate. But how he managed to convince the Christian-oriented voters that he is the vessel that carries their message in the fight against evil leaves little to be desired for Christianity as a religion and calls for self-examinations and introspection for Christians.
Trump has preyed on the docile nature of Christianity as religion; in the past, Christianity has shown a readiness to yield to forces of control and has ended up used as a force for good or for bad. But in spite of the fact that religion-state unions are centuries old, they were not practiced by the early Christians, but rather were common traditions in lands like Egypt and by early Romans. Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity did not show a willingness to involve Christianity into the affairs of the Roman kingdom. On one occasion, his supporters tried to make him king, but he withdrew from that offer with good reason; his primary focus was preaching the good news, and he encouraged his followers to do the same.
If Jesus and his followers were infused in the affairs of the Roman kingdom, would the message they preached be accepted by the other lands that do not have a favorable view of the Roman kingdom? If an Evangelical Trump supporter preaches about Christian conduct and morals to someone in need of enlightenment, would that person accept the message if he doesn't hold Trump on those standards?
The bottom line is this: Trump attaching himself to Christians, but with no intention of conforming to their conduct and morals, in itself is an unholy marriage of convenience. Christians compromising their morals and values in support of a good economy and livelihood is a human thing to do, but after the Trump presidency, it's better not to preach to others about good morals and values without mentioning that there is a price at which those morals and values can be bought.
"United States has the largest Christian population in the world, approximately 167 million Christians"
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 AL