A Man I Admired Lost My Respect The Other Day
I was raised in a very Christian household. Bibles abounded around the house, I went to Sunday school every Sunday. And a book of systematic theology was present, with my parents encouraging me to read it.
Yesterday, I saw an article, authored by the man that wrote that book, which shocked me.
Wayne Grudem, a highly influential man in modern Christianity, indirectly had a significant impact on me as a young adult. His book on systematic theology, although very dry for a kid my age, was what I would rush to consult whenever I had a question about my faith. In many ways, his writings shaped the way that I see the world today.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw that he had written an article defending Donald Trump on a moral basis. The title “Why Voting for Donald Trump is a Morally Good Choice” immediately threw me for a loop. I saw a man, who up to this point I had respected incredibly highly, supporting a man who I see as an under qualified demagogue using racism and hatred to seek public office.
I honestly hoped that Grudem had found some redeeming quality in Trump that I had managed to miss. I opened the link with no small amount of fear. I did not want to see the man that had influenced my faith so greatly write an article defending a man that I cannot respect.
I found, however, that Grudem had found no revelation, no redeeming quality hidden under the surface where only he could see it. So, unfortunately, this is a rebuttal of Grudem’s article which — by the way — you can read here.
First, it is important to point out that Grudem claims that voting for Trump is a morally good choice. Notice that he does not say “right” or “correct”. Yet, throughout his article, he argues for Trump as the correct choice in this election. He argues against voting for Hillary Clinton or a third party candidate, which leaves Trump as the only choice left; and thus, by elimination, Grudem is arguing that Trump is the right or correct choice. This, of course, is a warning sign right off the start. Grudem is trying to morally justify his choice of voting for Trump against the voices of those who say that they cannot justify voting for a man who has threatened to kill women and children.
Dr. Grudem starts off his article by saying something that, frankly, is insane and misguided.
I do not think that voting for Donald Trump is a morally evil choice because there is nothing morally wrong with voting for a flawed candidate if you think he will do more good for the nation than his opponent. In fact, it is the morally right thing to do.
To illustrate how twisted this idea is, let me present you with a hypothetical scenario. Take two candidates that are running for president of a hypothetical nation. Both of the candidates want to kill everyone over the age of 60, however, one of the candidates has an objectively better economic policy. We can obviously conclude both candidates are “flawed”. However, Dr. Grudem’s logic would tell us that voting for the candidate with the better economic policy is the morally right decision.
This — I hope you understand — is insane. It cannot be morally right to vote for either of these candidates because both of them are advocating mass murder. Yet, Dr. Grudem has laid out a logical argument that would argue that voting for the candidate with the better economic policy is the morally right decision.
Dr. Grudem goes on, his next order of business is to defend Trump from all those that accuse him of being a bad person.
The first real problem with his defense of Trump’s personality is the fact that his defense is two paragraphs. If I tried really really hard, there is no way I could fit all the ways that Trump is a bad person and an unfit candidate into two paragraphs. And I will not quote those entire paragraphs here, but you are welcome to go read the article yourself.
However, in these two paragraphs, Dr. Grudem demonstrates how little he actually knows about Donald Trump and who he is.
For example, Dr. Grudem brushes off the times when Trump has advocated for killing the families of terrorists, violating the Geneva Convention, or even saying it does not matter if we tortured terrorists because they deserve it anyways. He specifically says “ sometimes [Trump] blurts out mistaken ideas (such as bombing the families of terrorists) that he later must abandon”. When defending a man who has advocated for war crimes, Dr. Grudem, it is not enough for you to say he merely blurted it out on accident.
Later on, Dr. Grudem says “ [Trump] has been slow to disown and rebuke the wrongful words and actions of some angry fringe supporters” when, in fact, Trump has directly and indirectly encouraged his supporters to use violence. Trump even defended supporters who beat up a homeless Hispanic man, calling them “passionate”.
Dr. Grudem says that Trump cannot be racist, or anti-Semitic, or misogynistic, because of his many years of business. I frankly, am confused by this. Roger Ailes was very successful in many years of business heading up Fox News, yet he has been accused of incredible amounts of sexual misconduct. If Dr. Grudem paid close attention to Mr. Trump’s twitter account, he might have a different opinion of Mr. Trump, who has re-tweeted many things from anti-Semitic accounts and posted pictures of Hillary Clinton with unmistakably anti-Semitic symbols on them. Dr. Grudem might want to search Megyn Kelly and Donald Trump on Google if he thinks that Donald Trump is not misogynistic.
Unsurprisingly, the entirety of the two paragraphs that Dr. Grudem has devoted to defending this nominee is missing something that has been incredibly central to Mr. Trump’s platform. Nowhere in these two paragraphs does Dr. Grudem mention the incredible amount of hate that Mr. Trump has directed towards Islam and Muslims. In fact, Trump’s opposition to Muslims is the most dangerous thing for Dr. Grudem’s argument as a whole. I am going to talk about it more in depth later and why it is such a problem.
Most of Dr. Grudem’s article is focused on the various reasons why Donald Trump would be good for the country: not having a liberal Supreme Court, banning abortion, expanding religious liberty, protecting Christian business owners, protecting Christian schools and colleges, protecting churches, protecting freedom of speech, stopping criminalizing dissent, increasing freedom for Christian influence in politics, decreasing taxes and incresing jobs, helping minorities, supporting the military, strengthening borders, attacking ISIS and terrorism, having relations with China and Russia, supporting Israel, energy, limiting executive orders, expanding health care, protecting the unprotected.
Some of these arguments were laughable at best. He argues that the judicial system is bad because judges are appointed, not elected. He seems horrified that liberally minded judges would make decision from the bench, while he would be supportive of conservative judges legislating from the bench. Need I even point out this is a double standard of ridiculous proportions.
Grudem’s freedom of speech and criminalizing dissent arguments were brief and, frankly, naive considering how Trump has restricted the press outlets that have done negative reporting on him and his campaign.
He even does a section for people who worry that Trump will change his mind and not stick to campaign promises. He argues that Trump will do “most or all of what he has said”. Which is frightening if Trump does not change his mind on his promises to kill the families of ISIS fighters or deporting Muslims from America.
The biggest problem with his arguments is the importance that he places on Trump’s ability further the Christian agenda in politics. A lot of what he points out as reasons why Christians should vote for Trump are ways that he thinks that Trump will further the ideas of Christians in the public sphere. However, under Trump, the rights of Christians will be irreparably undermined.
In America, the Constitution makes no distinction between different forms of religion. Religion, as a whole, is protected together. The rights protecting Muslims are the same rights that protect Christians. This is really important to understand because Trump is posing a huge threat to Muslims, making anti-Muslim rhetoric a large part of his platform.
Once you understand how religious rights are linked together, it becomes easier to understand why Trump’s threats towards Muslims should be just as frightening for Christians as they are for Muslims.
If Trump carries out his threats towards Muslims, whether it be restricting their immigration, monitoring them, or even deporting them, he has set a precedent that can be used against any religious group. Trump will have opened a proverbial floodgate that allows further persecution against any group in America.
I honestly find it astounding that Dr. Grudem has failed to recognize or address the real problems that face the Muslim community and the horrific ramifications that they will have for the Christian community long term. He seems oblivious to the fact that damaging the rights of Muslims is also damaging the rights of Christians. Does he not realize that when Muslim’s constitutional rights are violated, the future constitutional rights of Christians are also threatened?
He seems so enamored with the potential things that Trump could bring society — never mentioning the fact that little to none of them are part of Trump’s platform — that he misses the obvious gaping chasm that the rights of all religious groups will slip into under a Trump administration.
Dr. Grudem is caught up in the personality cult that Trump has established through his campaign. Grudem has been willing to make horrible logical arguments, gloss over huge parts of integral parts of Trump’s personality and beliefs, ignore Trump’s platform and proposed ideas, all in favor of electing a candidate who might appoint more conservative judges to the Supreme Court and carry out what Grudem thinks is best for the country.
Dr. Grudem, I propose the idea that even if Mr. Trump did end up doing all these things that you want, it might be an overall loss for the country when he tears up the Constitution to pursue what he has promised he would do from the beginning of the primaries. Our country was founded on the rights enumerated in that Constitution, and Mr. Trump would do a great job at destroying those rights.
Maybe you should consider the ramifications of such an administration Dr. Grudem. I would suggest doing a little more research on the man that you plan to vote for.