As the world comes crashing down around Donald Trump and his administration, those folks who voted for him in 2016 and consider themselves evangelical believers are pivoting to say they are electing the platform, not the person.
We are to believe that the MAGA movement, the Trump rallies, the cult of believing only him about his take on the world, the press and his great achievements — all this was just about a platform. Of course, the rabid cult-like obedience never was about him, Donald J. Trump, because well, that would be wrong or at the worst idolatry.
So this election season, it is about “the platform.” Most of all, in reality, it’s about that platform supposedly being “pro-life.”
And you can say that with a straight face while 215,00 people have died unnecessarily in America from COVID-19? You say that when millions of wage earners have lost their jobs and cannot collect unemployment? You say that while you are attempting to remove pre-existing conditions from health care coverage while limiting health care insurance for millions who are uninsured?
Yes, that is truly believable.
This election season, Trump doesn’t have a new platform but rather is rubber stamping the disastrous “America First” positions from his 2016 race. Disastrous because this platform has facilitated a world in turmoil, the United States withdrawing from its key leadership position among like-minded democratic nations, unhealthy fixations with dictators and their regimes, as well as careless disregard for our men and women in service around the world. The Trump administration has been silent on the Putin bounty on dead American soldiers. However, Trump has spoken of those who died in the service of this nation as “suckers and losers.”
“This election season, Trump doesn’t have a new platform but rather is rubber stamping the disastrous ‘America First’ positions from his 2016 race.”
So that is Trump’s platform coming into this November election.
In the world of politics, of philosophies, of world views, of economics, of histories, even psychology and medicine, there is room for people to have their personal and preferred opinions. It is a little different in the world of the Christian faith, however. The options narrow.
Either the Scriptures are authoritative and accurate, or they are not. If they are authoritative, things narrow even more. There can be diverse understanding of key theological truths, key doctrines and key teachings, but rarely is there a disagreement about ethics for ourselves, others in the fellowship and how we relate to a lost and dying world. In fact, my experience shows there is more agreement on the moral imperatives of our faith than any other facet of the Christian religion.
However, it is precisely these moral imperatives of our faith expressed in teaching after teaching of Jesus that seem to be the most ignored by evangelicals supporting Trump.
What does Jesus teach about children, very young children? Is Christ in agreement with separating these children from their parents in a strange land and putting them in cages?
What does Jesus teach about the foreigner who comes to our land? What does Jesus teach about the value of a human life? And on and on we could go. Nearly every action this administration has spoken about or acted on toward Blacks, Hispanics, women and immigrants offends the heart of God.
“America First” is an affront to the gospel of Jesus Christ, which points out the Kingdom Rule in Matthew 20:16: “The first will be last and the last will be first.”
There are some of us who believe the progress, the favor, the affluence of America has been the result of our national will to be fueled by a vital Christian church that implements this teaching of Jesus. That is why we have had a heart for the world, the hurting world, no matter what the politics of that nation. When tsunamis devastated nations, you could always count on the U.S. to be one of the first onsite with aid. Hurricanes, the same; floods the same; earthquakes the same.
“Even in these days of ‘holy war,’ ‘international terrorism,’ the rise of radical Islamic groups, America has been generally been well thought of — until now.”
While as a nation we were affluent enough to respond to our own domestic crises, we were generous with others, expecting little in return. But in return, we found a world-wide good will toward the American people. Even in these days of “holy war,” “international terrorism,” the rise of radical Islamic groups, America has been generally been well thought of — until now.
With that goodwill has come a credible platform for the gospel to leverage a hearing around the world. An unspoken or referenced willingness to host American missionaries is the reputation of the U.S. as being a compassionate and giving nation.
However, after the debacle of four years of Trump, the world looks with pity on a once great and gracious nation because of our Republican platform? Not exactly.
Rather it is because of a significant number of voters who felt disenfranchised from their federal government and with that frustration elected a deeply flawed, mentally unstable man who has singlehandedly wrecked 244 years of global goodwill in the making. Sowing fear, selfishness and division, he may well bring an end to the American experience.
With that decline also will go the evangelical church. Not because the platform was flawed — which it was — but because the person who made the platform was deeply flawed. And the people who embraced such a candidate and platform were selfish.
Wash your hands, wear your mask for others, mind the gap, and be kind.
Michael Chancellor served 33 years as pastor of four Baptist churches in Texas, seven years as a mental health manager in a maximum-security Texas prison and now is a therapist in private practice in Round Rock, Texas.