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THOMPSON: Why do so many Christian Evangelicals support Trump for president?

April 29, 2024 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


A large group of self-proclaimed religious people in the U.S. don't seem to be what they once were. When I was growing up in the ‘50s, Christians - about 99 per cent of my community - mostly lived up to a certain moral code, centred around what would later become known as family values.

Today, too many Christians seem to have broken moral compasses, and more flexible codes for right and wrong. They talk the talk, but don’t always walk the walk very well.

Why do I say this? Well, it’s purely anecdotal, but it all seems too much - too widespread - to be a coincidence that so many Christian Evangelicals support a man for president who couldn’t quote a Bible verse to save his soul.

I have no doubt that these folks believe in God, and claim strong faith. I’ll take them at their word. But among the folks that proudly brandish religion, a lot of them don’t really seem to follow the teachings of Jesus, like most religious folks used to.

I know this because I look at those who support - no, it’s stronger than that - those who follow Donald Trump with what seems like religious fervour. How anyone that goes to church, cracks open a Bible on occasion and professes to be a decent, God-fearing Christian can stomach Trump, well, it defies reason.

God might work in mysterious ways, but never has God been so far out in front of his flock. The cult-like following of Donald Trump by religious folks arcs way beyond mysterious. It is puzzling, troubling even, and very much a leap too far. The evidence is clear, the behaviour of most of today’s Religious Right that follows Trump is simply antithetical to what Jesus preached.

Many Right Wing Christians support Trump based on one issue, abortion. They must look beyond just about every teaching of Christ to do so. They seem to act as if overlooking every Commandment - and Trump has broken most of them - is somehow normal, rational. It is not.

It is curious what has happened to so many Christians in the U.S. They claim they are persecuted more today than when the U.S. was founded, a nation that sprang from a search for religious freedom. But today the numbers of practicing Christians are declining in North America, which might be the source of such claims.

Christians seem to prefer a narrative that folks are turning from Christianity because non-Christians are threatening them rather than because many Christians aren’t living up to their teachings, so some are leaving.

Christians are persecuted in Nigeria, Korea, China, India, Burma, Iran and Saudi Arabia for example, but not in North America. Christians here are not going without jobs, their churches are not being bombed, followers are not being stoned, figuratively or literally. Both Jews and Muslims are persecuted more today, according to hate crime statistics of the F.B.I.

Here are some facts about people who identify as religious Christians, according to Pew Research Center:

Two-thirds of White evangelical Protestants say they have a favourable view of the former president, including 30 per cent who have a very favourable opinion of him. Some 51 percent of White Catholics see Trump favourably.

About 80 per cent of Jews and Blacks, and 88 per cent of agnostics and atheists, hold an unfavourable view of Trump.

There’s no difference between Caucasians who identify as Christians, and those who attend church regularly, according to the survey. Some 59 per cent of White Christians say Trump is either very or somewhat religious.

Apparently the scale has slid some over the years since I attended church, Trump has divorced twice, married three times, and has been found guilty and liable for sex crimes. Also, he lies like most of us breathe. He had an affair with a porn star while his wife was home with a small baby, lied about it, then paid her off. I don’t know, that doesn’t seem like the stuff religious folks would stand for.

White Christians in America seem to relate to Donald Trump because he sells fear, fear that America is being taken over by those who aren’t White, aren’t like them. And rather than believe what has always been true, there’s enough America to go around for everyone, they believe Trump’s lie, people not like you are going to take America from you, steal what you have.

If there’s a fight between good and evil, and Christians have always sworn there is, where’s the real threat coming from? Look inward Christians. The call is coming from inside the house.

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines.


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