This is an excerpt from the chapter entitled "The Church Shares the Blame."
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.” Vice President Joe Biden said that he’d be “a president for all Americans.” I know that most Trump voters and evangelicals will reject and even demonize him. President Trump, however, only showed that he’d be a president for half of America, the MAGA half. When the chips were down, he ramped up his appeal to his base and gambled that it would be enough to put him over the top, and it wasn’t.
Four years from now, we can’t blame “Biden/Harris” if Republican values aren't advanced. The Church and Republicans have to look at themselves in the mirror and consider this paradox: that it chose MAGA over character, division over unity, and that they may have helped usher in a decline in “conservative values” in the areas they claim to value the most.
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