What do you value?

In a recent RNS article, Brian McLaren reflects on his break-up with the conservative movement. Reflecting on the current political climate, he notes how estranged he feels from a conservative Evangelical movement that focuses more on Political Power than the Way of the Cross. Specifically, he asks:

How else do we explain why nearly 80 percent of white evangelicals currently embrace the candidacy of Donald Trump, whose way of life and values could not be more opposite to their own?

Unfortunately, I think the dissonance created by Donald Trump’s success among Evangelicals is because we believe a lie about this very issue. If those White Evangelicals really found Trumps way of life and values opposed to theirs they would not support him! Instead, the White Evangelical support for Trump illustrates that the values and way of life for most White Evangelicals is perfectly aligned with Trump. Serving Mammon and the God of the empire, most are driven by fear, greed, and lust rather than love, joy, and peace.

It is precisely because Trump mirrors the true heart beliefs of these White Evangelicals that he is appealing. We have spent so much energy “othering” those who think differently, believe differently, act differently, and look differently all in our desire to establish a comfortable, wealthy existence. We have opposed taxes not because the Bible teaches us to, but because it hurts our wallet. We have refused to support sane social policy because it will cost us something and that seems unfair.

Instead of loving in the self-sacrificing way of Christ, we have embodied the Older Brother angry that someone should get a second chance. Rather than trust in God’s goodness, we have demanded like the first of the Vineyard workers that no one get what we have without working as long as us. Refusing to understand our purpose to bless the whole world, we have adopted the boundary-patrolling mentality of the Pharisees. Saying the things which would lead to life, we don’t practice them.

Looking at the White Evangelical Church in America, Jesus would likely caution those outside to “Follow everything they tell you to do; do not, however, imitate their actions, because they don’t practice what they preach. They tie onto people’s backs loads that are heavy and hard to carry, yet they aren’t willing even to lift a finger to help them carry those loads.” To us, he would surely say, “You lock the door to the Kingdom of heaven in people’s faces, but you yourselves don’t go in, nor do you allow in those who are trying to enter!”

White Evangelicals are voting for Trump not despite his life and values, but because he perfectly mirrors their own opposition to the Kingdom of God.