Since Donald Trump’s appearance on the political stage, his supporters have taken to Twitter, often brandishing the #MAGA hashtag and other identifiers that expose their commitment to him. This group seems to consist predominantly of NASCAR and NFL fans, lovers of country music, lots of veterans, and a good segment of bikers. These people love God and country, have flags on their lawns and family Bibles on their coffee tables. They would die for their country, and God too.
However, their Christian commitment is probably more cultural than spiritual. The Bible on the coffee table or elsewhere in the house probably does not get opened often. They would more than likely employ scriptural terminology the way Harry Truman did. They may spend more time in bars than in church.
Nonetheless, if you needed it, they would give you the shirt off their backs. Many from this contingent of American society showed up in Texas and Florida in pickups and boats to rescue hurricane victims. Perhaps they might be labeled “traditional Americans.”
Another Twitter contingent is comprised of those who call themselves Christ-followers or use numerous other designations that identify them as evangelical Christians such as “believer,” “child of God,” “Jesus-freak.” etc. Often they identify themselves merely with a Bible verse. This group tends to attend church regularly, read Scripture and pray somewhat consistently, and likely listens to Christian praise music.
They tend not to be as politically engaged as traditional Americans. Many would even see political involvement as a harmful diversion from the church’s true task of fulfilling the Great Commission and spiritually ministering to the saints. Their support for Pres. Trump would on average be less enthusiastic than the group described earlier, with a contingent being never-Trumpers. Just as those in the former group are committed to God and country but invest substantially more energy in country, these evangelicals convey a commitment to God and country with their primary focus being God.
These two groups together comprise the preponderance of American conservatism. They agree in their opposition to the agenda of that Left, instead supporting traditional American values. Both groups are predominantly pro-life, view marriage as being between a man and a woman, and oppose political correctness, instead advocating for freedom to speak truth. They favor a literal interpretation of the Constitution and Supreme Court Justices that support that position.
The traditional American group gives us reasons to be concerned regarding their commitment to Christ and consequently their eternal destiny. This lack of spiritual commitment may result from their never having been exposed to a clear gospel presentation. It may also reflect an unwillingness to make a life-changing commitment to Christ, preferring instead the traditional American lifestyle and all that goes with it. Becoming a “church person” might sully the image they want to maintain. This lack of commitment to Christ results in many negative side effects from their lifestyle choices to their eternal destiny.
Another factor, however, may prevent their crossing the divide to make a commitment to Christ.
Most evangelicals by nature are patriotic and conservative in their thinking and values. In fact, while many traditional Americans were rescuing hurricane victims, a host of evangelicals was providing financial and logistical assistance to them.
However, a significant number of evangelical opinion-makers manifest a Left-leaning orientation. This slant toward the Left showed itself during the recent presidential campaign. The election provided us with a Republican pro-life candidate committed to governing responsibly on the issues of economics, immigration, and the military. The Democrat candidate advocated the continuing of Barack Obama’s hard-Left agenda. The fact that positions taken by Donald Trump were far more compatible with biblical principles than those embraced by Hillary Clinton seemed to be overlooked by many evangelical leaders who felt compelled to aggressively propagate any shortcomings they perceived Trump to possess, seeming not to notice or care about the utter disaster that a Clinton victory would have rained down on America. The fact that we were electing a president and not a pastor or bishop seemed not to have occurred to them. They accused evangelical Trump supporters of selling their souls. It seemed that these evangelical leaders could not bring themselves to adopt a politically conservative position, despite the rationality of doing so, but instead had to demonstrate that they were too intellectual, their thinking too nuanced, for that.
A similar phenomenon showed itself recently in an article presenting the perspective of five evangelical leaders regarding NFL players refusing to stand for the national anthem. Of the five, two gave what I perceived to be rational answers, identifying biblical principles these players violated. One response, though good as far as it went, avoided the issue. Two respondents sided with the players, one of them asserting their right to free speech.
It is disconcerting but predictable that the position of these last two evangelical leaders overlooked obvious rational and biblical principles: free speech must have limits; these players are ethically committed to follow league rules; as citizens they have a moral responsibility to honor the flag; they need to consider the feelings of the fans; they have many means of protest that do not require disrespect of our nation. It is not accidental that these evangelical leaders supporting the position of the players reflect the same irrational, Left-leaning orientation as did other leaders during the election. Unfortunately, these prominent leaders and others are influencing the thinking, attitudes, and values of the evangelical community in general.
Perhaps the most consequential negative result of this pandering to the Left that has pervaded evangelical thinking and living resides in its engendering a weak-kneed brand of Christianity that turns off traditional Americans. Perhaps the unwillingness of red-blooded Americans, especially men, to associate with the evangelical community is found in its unwillingness to take rational, biblical stands on the difficult, practical issues confronting our nation. If so, the Left-oriented positions of many evangelical leaders may be keeping many traditional Americans from receiving Christ. They may also be a primary factor in preventing America’s two major conservative factions from joining hands to make America great again.