Is There a Limit for Evangelical Trump Supporters?

Reading an op-ed by Michael Brown, I thought of this question: Is there anything Donald Trump could do to lose evangelical support?

Brown’s column acknowledges some of Trump’s flaws, including the recent attacks on four Democratic minority congresswomen. Brown says he has no desire to defend any of Trump’s inappropriate behavior but given the choice of Trump and a Democratic candidate, he will choose Trump.

So this prompted me to wonder what would it take to cause Brown and/or other evangelical supporters to abandon Trump. What would Trump have to do? If he murdered someone, would that be enough? Attended a gay wedding? Or would all of those far right judge appointments make that worth it?

Trump has been credibly accused of numerous crimes and immoral acts. It will take years to investigate them all. But for Brown and those who think like him, it doesn’t matter. Our American institutions, principles, and other matters of law are secondary to judges and abortion. Brown ended by saying:

And then ask yourself this question: If we can save the lives of babies who were being slaughtered in the womb, do you think they will care if the man who helped save them was sometimes vulgar and crude? And do you think they’ll find us un-Christian if we voted for him?

So then, is there no limit? Is there no crime or evil deed Trump could do that would make Brown and those of like mind think twice? Trump is not just vulgar and crude. Among many other things, he regularly deceives the public, is presiding over one of the most corrupt administrations in American history, and has been credibly accused of assaulting numerous women (and has bragged about doing so). Is there no bottom?

What High Crime or Misdemeanor Would it Take?

I leave it as an open and public question for Michael Brown and/or any other evangelical Trump supporter. What would make you support impeachment? What high crime or misdemeanor would it take? The ones we know about aren’t enough, so what would it take? Be specific, name something Trump could do which would end your support.

Brown thinks those opposed to Trump are not really worried about Christian witness. For the most part, I agree with him that Christian witness isn’t the real issue. Obviously, Trump supporters don’t care about their Christian witness. That is the last thing they care about. They now trust in Trump and not God.  Being unsatisfied with the results of virtue as a means of reaching public policy goals, they have gone in for raw political power. In the short term, this seems to be working out better. Virtue was so difficult and didn’t really get the job done.

As an aside, I don’t understand the attachment to Trump. If Trump was impeached, they would have Mike Pence who is less erratic but just as committed to their public policy goals. In any case, evangelicals have fallen on their sword for Trump and one doesn’t often survive falling on one’s sword.

Donald Trump recently told a Turning Point USA crowd that “I have article two where I have the right to do what I want as president.” Trump also has a court full of evangelicals who let him do whatever he wants.


31 thoughts on “Is There a Limit for Evangelical Trump Supporters?”

  1. In 1993, I began my first year at Asbury College, already a questioning Christian and vastly skeptical of the moral majority, having grown up in a conservative home and in the church, always absorbing the Christian literature and news that was around my home. I already felt discomfort toward the call of all the faithful to join forces with the conservative Republicans in order to protect the faith and forward the causes dear to evangelical America.

    My first week we were treated to a chapel service taught by one of the professors from across the street at Asbury Seminary. I desperately wish I remembered his name as his words that day have shaped my life in the decades since.

    Paraphrasing, he said this:
    Beware of the ill advised marriage between faith and politics. The moral majority will tempt the American church with a cheap path to achieve what appears to be the kingdom of God brought forth on earth. The church will give in to the temptations of power and will turn its back to its only true power to produce cultural and world change- the power of redemption and transformation in the lives of sinners who turn away from their sins and adopt the likeness of Christ. Their pursuit of cheap political power and the blunt and effective power it has to produce outward, fake change will take them further and further from their true mission and purpose. The American Church will prostitute itself for power in the name of righting moral wrongs and in the process, lose any ability to speak with any Godly authority at all on any moral matters. How can the church adopt the weapons of politics and ever hope to fulfill its mission of reaching the lost for Christ? Do we really expect to wage cultural war and then, upon conquering our foes, reach down from the pile of the carcasses and bruised bodies of those we’ve defeated and tell them “God loves you and wants to save you from a life of sin and desperation” and receive anything other than jeers and derision? In seeking and achieving political power, the American Evangelical church will abdicate entirely it’s true mission and in seeking to bolster its waning cultural influence in this country via political machinations, will make itself entirely irrelevant and will cease to be any force for good or for God for generations, if not forever. In using political power to try to protect and project its waning influence, the American church will sign its own death certificate.

    There is no basis in the life of Christ for the advancement of God’s kingdom through political or worldly power. Indeed, Jesus was tempted with this choice and turned away from it. He turned away from it because the only weapon of the lamb is a bared throat (This is an exact quote. I remember these words vividly.) It is only through willing sacrificing himself that Christ was able to redeem humanity. In turning away from sacrificial love and toward the promise of influence through worldly power, the American church will make the exact opposite choice that its savior made. And at that point, it will be too late. A world that sees that not even those who claim faith are willing to adhere to the tenants of the faith they proclaim will turn from the church in droves. The church’s political power will diminish accordingly, and the American church will cease to have any prominent influence in this country by any means. It will become irrelevant and then be forgotten. And it will be her own fault.

    Everything that man said has come true and I’m eternally grateful for the warning he gave. That warning let me walk away from a church I can no longer stomach but still have a deep and abiding love for the God they’re turning their backs on. I’d call it prophetic, but in reality, it’s simple logic and extrapolation. There really is no other way this can end.

    1. By the way, Mr. Throckmorton, we met many, many years ago, when I would have been a high school sophomore. My mother worked with you for a period as a counselor when you practiced in Portsmouth. I think I may even still have a CD of you playing guitar buried somewhere deep in the collection. Thanks for your continued work in holding the church and evangelicals to account. Your work is a consistent source of inspiration and hope.

  2. “Is there anything Donald Trump could do to lose evangelical support?”

    Pretty sure murder would do the trick. Also adopting a pro-choice stance, including w/ judicial appointments.

  3. Jesus never allowed the political Zealots of His day to influence Him. Instead He walked away… Old Testament nationalism is idolatry. The political system is part of the world system. It’s just another branch. God is not running the Republican Party. Christ is not the Head.. The present political gospel is idolatry of ideology and a part of the strong end time spiritual delusion God has authorized so that even the elect could be deceived. You don’t become passionate about something unless your hope and faith is tied into it.

  4. This is basically at the heart of the political conflict these days.

    Trump Supporters to Trump Critics: Is there *anything* that Trump could do that you wouldn’t criticize?

    Trump Critics to Trump Supporters: I don’t know. Is there *anything* that Trump could do that you *would* criticize?

    I’d say the jury’s still out, but I suspect that is not the case.

    As an evangelical who is quite concerned with where Trump/Trumpism is taking us, I don’t take as much issue with evangelical Trump supporters when they identify particular issues where they agree with his positions and policies, and are more circumspect on others. On those positions and policies, we can debate whether this-or-that position is more in line with a Christian worldview, or what its consequences will be, or what its long-term effect on the nation/world will be. The larger problem I have is with those who have sold out to him and to party to the point where they will support *everything* he says and does, refusing to utter the slightest bit of criticism of him on *anything*, and labeling anyone who does utter a word of criticism as (choose from the list) unAmerican, unpatriotic, unChristian, leftist, socialist, “social justice warrior,” follower of “fake news,” “enemy of the people.”

    1. If Trump had kept his campaign promise to propose an infrastructure bill, I would support that. I think a lot of people would: it would generate jobs, save lives, improve commerce, and other than costing some money, has no apparent drawbacks. But he seems to have abandoned the idea.

  5. Nothing of a ‘racist’ nature will cross the Trumvagelicals’ ‘red line’. The Trump phenomenon is much based on the fact that, given demographic realities in the USA, this is the last chance the white far right has to have the whip hand.

    Abortion (which many of us not on the right of politics regard as abhorrent – although we do not believe that punitive laws against women are the answer) and gay marriage are, I believe, ‘excuses’; the real issue is race.

  6. As one of MBs ‘ideological enemies’, I guess I don’t have to worry about him trying to save my soul, which is a huge relief, as I don’t want him anywhere near it. And I’m pretty sure that there are conservatives in the US that can tell the difference between political opinions on whether the proper functions of governments involve questions of preservation and minimalism versus the thought that government can work for the good of all.

    Neither of these political perspectives involves movement conservatism’s writing into law religious rights to discriminate against anybody or religious rights to control women’s bodily autonomy or her right to make her own decisions, thus providing opportunities for people like me to ‘brand him a bigot, a homophobe and a hater of women.’ Movement conservatism also seems to have developed a blindness towards obvious racism and what it looks like.

    Just as an aside, if MB is so concerned with a president’s ability to prevent abortions, it is concerning that he didn’t understand that Obama Care offered the chance to do exactly that by providing free birth control. The study can be can be found here on PubMed: Preventing unintended pregnancies by providing no-cost contraception. Voting for Trump is unlikely to produce such good outcomes.

  7. “What high crime or misdemeanor would it take?”

    Russian collusion or active secret Russian agent.

  8. They have already demonstrated that there is no limit.

    But maybe we should refer to them as “Evangelical ity” because the “Christian” part seems to have gone missing.

  9. I’d love to think that there was a limit to what Evangelical Trump supporters would support, but I have seen no evidence of one. He doubles down on the hate for asylum seekers, to the extent of forcing so many people–including children–into spaces so small that not all of them can so much as sit down, or lie down to sleep, and they double down right with him. He lies about what non-white freshman Congresswomen have said, in order to stir up hatred toward them, and they fail to call out his lies, and make their own threats against these same women. What can you do with people like that?

    1. And they chorus “I give Donald Trump Praise and Adoration” (actual quote from Wondering Eagle’s regular Trump-fanatic troll; guy can sling Bible-bullet proof-texts at a Minigun’s rate of fire).

      Born-Again Christians are THE most fanatical of Trump fanatics. It’s like they Took the Mark in bad Christian Apocalyptic, where the instant the 666 tat goes on, the tattee is fanatically-loyal unto the Beast unto death and beyond.

  10. If you are going to support Trump because he will get you what you want (judges, the end of abortion), then you are supporting him entirely. You can’t pick one from Column A and one from Column B. You get the whole package.

    So supporting Trump for the reasons Brown states means Brown, and those like him, are supporting the dismantling of the constitutional order and the end of the rule of law. He, and those like him, are supporting a racist agenda and the demonization of refugees. He, and those like him, are supporting the demolition of the social safety net and the obscene concentration of wealth in 1% of the country. He, and those like him, are supporting the bankrupting of the country, because the tax giveaways to the wealthy and corporations are ballooning the deficit and the bill will come due. (Trump knows this, and has said he doesn’t care because he will no longer be in office when it all comes crashing down. This from a man who brays about how he “loves America”.)

    You get the whole package. It’s not a la carte.

  11. I think part of the issue is that most evangelicals just can’t imagine that not supporting Trump is anything other than supporting the Democrats. There seems to be an in-built mindset that views the only options available to them purely in terms of assumptions defined by the secular political culture. The idea that we might actually be fundamentally separate from that culture and called to preach repentance to all of it never seems to occur them.

  12. If a far-left president was elected who was firmly against abortion, would evangelicals support her/him as president? Absolutely not.

    1. I’m not so sure about that. I think if someone (even farther left) with the same abortion views as Robert Casey (of Planned Parenthood v. Casey), many evangelicals might support him. Granted many may not if said candidate was strongly in favor of minority (including gay/trans) rights. However, they would certainly support his efforts to ban abortion.

    2. Depending on what you mean by “far left”, I would support such a person. Certainly over Trump. Against a sane(r) Republican, maybe not.

  13. I agree with Warren about the nature and extreme extent of the real issues with our current President. I also agree that I do not like the way so many Christian Celebrities prop him up regardless of anything he has actually done or said. However, I do not like the celebrities themselves and believe that for most, rather or not they support this particular President, they are little better than Trump. This gives a different reason fore some of them not to be bothered by his actions or words. It also increases the hypocrisy on the “Christian” voices that speak out the loudest against him. The definition of hypocrisy is criticizing someone else for doing the exact same kinds of things you practice. So either way, many “Christian” celebrities are inwardly very much like Trump, they just do not do it out in everyone’s face. Guys like MacDonald were just as crude and rude and arrogant, but they hide that for only when they think the mic is not on. Beyond that I have found that I currently cannot in good conscience vote for any of the many candidates that has existed in my lifetime. The Narcissism is extreme where people are running for the highest possible office. They all disgust me regardless of party or platform.

    1. Totally agree. The world and the Church are degenerating in tandem…It breaks my heart to see “the god of this world blinding the minds” of those who “profess Jesus with their lips but hearts are far from Him. Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of man. “
      Jesus weeps. Big time

  14. Trump is the symptom. Evangelical Christianity* is the disease.

    *As represented by Michael Brown and his ilk.

  15. I’m not sure when we decided that secular governance had to be directly tied to Christian faith. No one in their right mind would consider Trump anything but an ego driven narcissist, which makes him pretty unreachable to the gospel. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t accomplished anything of value. Anyone who thought he was “conservative” was living in the land of unicorns. Just look at the budget deal he just signed without, apparently caring anything about wasteful spending. That still doesn’t mean he hasn’t done anything of value. I’m also not sure what we mean by “evangelical”. Surely no one believes that the health and wealth fraudsters that hang out at the white house are “evangelicals.” If you insist that every secular leader meet some test of scriptural standard, you first have to decide what standard you’re using.
    Trump is deeply flawed. So was his opponent. What happens in 2020 depends on how flawed his opponents turn out to be. It really has almost nothing to do with meeting a faith based standard. Really…

    1. In 2016, both major parties succeeded in nominating their WORST possible candidate.

      Leaving all the rest of us with a choice between Cersei Lannister and Benito Mussolini, take it or leave it.

  16. I think part of the issue is that most evangelicals just can’t imagine that not supporting Trump is anything other than supporting the Democrats. There seems to be an in-built mindset that views the only options available to them purely in terms of assumptions defined by the secular political culture. The idea that we might actually be fundamentally separate from that culture and called to preach repentance to all of it never seems to occur them.

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