This is an excerpt from the chapter entitled "The Church Shares The Blame":
As I look back on 2016, I would have voted for Mike Pence, Jeb Bush, or Chris Christie, but the Republican party chose the candidate whose first campaign homerun was the vilification of Mexicans. The candidate whose morality and character were suspect long before he became a candidate. They chose the person least qualified to represent Christian family values, the least qualified to talk about running a successful business, the least qualified to govern with no political governing track record, the least qualified to represent integrity, etc.
But as we have learned, the Republican party and the Church chose the one most qualified to divide America by stirring up division along racial lines and boldly inviting into the Republican fold Kyle Rittenhouse, the Proud Boys, and other white nationalist groups. The president’s faulty premise was that enough of America felt like he did, believed like he did and that he could win again in 2020 with this exclusionary vision of America. He fell about 6 million votes short but much closer than I could have ever imagined.
One article explains the Republican and evangelical wholesale support of the president as a transaction:
“This is politics at its most transactional. Trump was being hired by evangelicals to do a job — to defend their institutions, implement pro-life policies and appoint conservative judges. The character of the president was irrelevant so long as he kept his part of the bargain. Which Trump largely did…
How could such a thing happen in the GOP? It is not an aberration. It is the culmination of Trump’s influence among Republicans, and among White evangelical Christians in particular. Their main justification for supporting Trump — that the president’s character should be ignored in favor of his policies — has become a serious danger to the republic. Trump never even presented the pretense of good character…Republicans accepted it as part of the Trump package. And some of his most fervent defenses came from White evangelicals.
A group that was once seen as censorious became the least strict chaperone at Trump’s bacchanal. Under the president’s influence, White evangelicals went from the group most likely to believe personal morality matters in a politician to the group that is least likely. ‘We’re not electing a pastor in chief,’ explained Jerry Falwell Jr., the former president of Liberty University. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas, argued that ‘outward policies’ should matter more than ‘personal piety.’ Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition made his case for Trump’s re-election based on conservative deliverables. ‘There has never been anyone,’ Reed said, ‘who has defended us and who has fought for us, who we have loved more than Donald J. Trump.’” (Gerson, 2020)
Timothy Dalrymple, president of Christianity Today Magazine, wrote an editorial that I included in MGA Vol I that describes the transactional relationship between the Republican party and evangelicals as the “`hyper-politicization of the American church,’ the great sickness that causes evangelical Christians to continue to be loyal to a president who is ‘extravagantly immoral.’” I previously quoted Mr. Dalrymple as saying that “American evangelicalism is not a Republican PAC.” In that quote, he also said that the Church should “collaborate with political parties” but stand apart so that it can continue to “to be what Martin Luther King, Jr. called ‘the conscience of the state.’” (Thompson, Vol I)
As evangelicals sided with the president, despite his character flaws and his efforts to divide America along MAGA lines, they lost their ability to be “the conscience of the state.”
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