Evangelicals — Trump Doesn’t Share Your Values. He Desires Your Worship.
When Evangelicals cast their votes for Donald Trump they did so believing that he will govern, as Billy Graham’s daughter said, “ in accordance with the values and principles that made this nation great.” How Christian voters could possibly arrive at such a conclusion is beyond baffling. Donald Trump has always stood for one thing and one thing only — the elevation of Donald Trump.
If you spend any time at all looking at the life of Mr. Trump you’ll be hard pressed to find anything resembling the “values and principles that make this nation great.” He lives at the top of a building named after himself in one of the most enviable locations on 5th Ave, New York. His $100 million dollar apartment features hand painted ceilings and wall-to-wall gold leaf. He spent an inordinate amount of time and money trying to build an empire for himself, with grand plans to rename Riverside South district of New York as Trump City.
This ambition to colonize the eastern seaboard drove Trump so hard that he spent more money than any reasonable businessman would have in order to buy a series of casinos and an aging airline shuttle service, renamed Trump Shuttle. This overreach cost him dearly and Trump went into what would be a cascade of massive business failures. He might have gone completely under if not for a bailout from a member of the Saudi royal family. Trump may still owe money to the Saudis, nobody really knows because he hasn’t released his tax returns and his businesses are a Matryoshka doll agglomeration of shell corporations.
When you view Donald Trump through the lens of American values that are specifically Christian American values — the rock and foundation that Evangelicals supposedly live by — it gets much, much worse.
“Do not sit in the place of honor,” Jesus warns his followers “in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited.” But in one of the more bizarre Trump stories I’ve come across Donald Trump crashed a charity event in 1996 and sat at the head of the table at a seat reserved for a generous benefactor. After basking in the limelight and being present for photographers, stealing the thunder of Stephen Fisher, Trump left the event. He never gave a dime to the charity.
Getting top billing is the essence of Trump. He seeks praise where he hasn’t earned it. He bullies, badmouths and sometimes tries to destroy people who didn’t give him the honor he feels he deserves. Altogether Trump is more like a caricture of a wrathful Mesopotamian demigod than anything approaching a leader capable of restoring virtue to the United States.
So why did Evangelicals vote for Trump? They were tired of being a laughingstock. They wanted a king who could unite them against the Philistines and make them a great nation. Or maybe they simply want a Supreme Court that will make abortion illegal, allow Christians to discriminate against minorities on the basis of religious belief and allow churches to politicize their congregations and still keep their tax exempt status.
There’s a good chance Trump will indulge Evangelicals on these matters. These gifts will be a small price to pay in exchange for the praise and glory he will get in return from Evangelical leaders. Their congregations on the other hand may not be ready for the price that they’ll have to pay.
The Biblical prophet Samuel warned Israel that the consequences of offering their praise and honor to a man instead of to God would be disastrous:
“These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
1 Samuel 8.10–22