David Brody: Condemnation of Trump’s Christian Supporters from Within Evangelical Circles Is Troubling

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to guests during a rally at Macomb Community College on March 4, 2016 in Warren, Michigan. Voters in Michigan will go to the polls March 8 for the State's primary. (Scott Olson/Getty Images North America)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to guests during a rally at Macomb Community College on March 4, 2016 in Warren, Michigan. Voters in Michigan will go to the polls March 8 for the State’s primary. (Scott Olson/Getty Images North America)

Questioning the Christianity of Trump supporters is a slippery slope to a Scarlet Letter.

The Super Tuesday after-party for Donald Trump is happening because evangelical voters make up a large share of the guest list. That’s put some evangelicals in a decidedly not-ready-to-party mood.

The spiritual soul searching within this group is as heated as the political argument that’s fragmenting the Republican Party. Some evangelicals are deriding Christians who support Trump by challenging their commitment to biblical principles and even questioning their Christianity.

The examples are numerous. Rafael Cruz, a pastor and Ted Cruz’s father, asks if Trump evangelicals are really sticking to the “word of God.” Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, suggests evangelicals who support Trump “may well be drunk right now, and haven’t been into a church since someone invited them to Vacation Bible School sometime back when Seinfeld was in first-run episodes.” Ouch.

Conservative Christian Radio talk show host Steve Deace meanwhile alleges that evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress “is watering down/distorting the Gospel in full public view on behalf of a politician.” And the Christian Post for the first time in its history took a stand against a political candidate, writing that Christians need to “pray for personal repentance, divine forgiveness and spiritual awakening for our nation. It is not the time for Donald Trump.”

The condemnation of Trump’s Christian supporters from within evangelical circles is troubling. Is there now a threshold of Christianity that you need to achieve to be a “real evangelical?” In other words, if you support Cruz you’re a true believer but if you go with Trump you’re not? Are “Trump Christians” going to have to wear a political Scarlet Letter? And if we’re going to go down that road, where exactly do we draw the line on morality? What about John McCain in 2008? Should evangelicals have spurned him because he had an affair with his first wife? What about Ronald Reagan? He was divorced and his wife celebrated astrology.

Many evangelicals who support Trump have decided to put “presidential leadership” and “pastoral leadership” in two distinct boxes. Does that make them less Christian? Or are they, like other GOP primary voters, simply at wit’s end? Plumbers (politicians) have been called in for decades to fix the toilet (the federal government) but it keeps leaking. Now large numbers of voters want to bring in someone outside the plumbing industry with a track record of success in areas unrelated to plumbing. Will it work? Nobody has any earthly idea. But sometimes you have to take a chance, and some evangelicals clearly are ready to give that chance to Trump.

If establishment GOP leaders want to blame anyone for Trump’s rise, they should start with a good look in the mirror. They let this happen. They waited too long to go after him. Furthermore, they took evangelical voters for granted. They felt confident that evangelicals would blindly vote for a traditional-values candidate. What they underestimated was that evangelicals are hungry for leadership, a fighter, and an outsider who’s brash and bold enough to say or do anything to get America back on track.

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SOURCE: USA Today
David Brody is chief political correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network and host of The Brody File on CBN News.

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