I can’t tell you how many times I started writing articles over the last four years about my permanent incredulity at the number of blind, blatant supporters Trump had from the Christian sector. Only to stop and never publish those articles.
I get that Evangelicals liked his policies without necessarily liking his behavior or personality. What I don’t get is how they were ever able to put policy above principle. To this day, I can’t get my head around it, but I stopped in the middle of trying to write dozens of articles about it because my concerns were already being stated by people more educated and eloquent than I.
I can’t do that anymore.
We need to get serious about this, and we have to do it now. Here’s why.
Supporting Donald Trump was never a proposition that in any way resembled support for any other politician. His supporters were (and still are) fervent, zealous, and quick to kneejerk to his defense.
What they never seemed to grasp is that Donald Trump isn’t merely a flawed human being (“like every other President”). He’s the definition of a highly functional narcissist — a psychologically damaged man, wildly out of touch with reality, who should be in counseling, not power. Just look back through the history of ruling monarchs; there’s a reason you don’t hand a lunatic the keys to the kingdom.
Thankfully, that’s behind us. (Unless the former President makes good on his threat to run for office again, God help us all.) It’s time to move on to brighter, saner days, where we’re all God’s children, nobody’s perfect, and we can still make a better future together.
Only… There’s one issue we have to circle back to. One bit that God’s commandments insist we can’t just let go. It’s called accountability.
I’ve taken a step back from closely monitoring politics since Joe Biden was elected. Is it because I trust him implicitly? Certainly not; I would never trust any human to be perfect, much less a leader hoisted into a position that history has shown time and again can be easily compromised. While I don’t dislike Biden, I’m not his biggest fan, either. I intend to hold him just as accountable as all our government leaders are meant to be.
But I’ve tuned out of politics for the first time in four long years, because I can rest comfortably, knowing that there’s a stable, balanced, mature human being in the Oval Office whose focus isn’t limited to his own status and success. The knowledge that Trump is gone has been a collective sigh of relief for those of us who saw him for what he is. So, like nearly everybody else, I’ve been happy to just stay quiet, leave things be, and let the country try to heal.
Now that we’ve had a few months away from the Trump Train, it occurs to me that precious few outspoken Trump supporters have come forward and acknowledged their involvement with his corrupt administration. No one has publicly stated that it was wrong to give him their endorsement. This is most visibly true of the most visible people in America: celebrities.
I expect pretend-it-never-happened behavior from televangelists like Jim Bakker, Kenneth Copeland, and Jerry Falwell Jr. And I fully accept that Tomi Lahren, Tucker Carlson, Ben Shapiro, and their ilk will tow the Trump line no matter how far it descends into madness. Then there are those who will be, shall we say, stupidly stubborn in their refusal to ever admit that they made a colossal error in judgment. Folks like Rosanne Barr, Mike Tyson, Kid Rock, or that My Pillow imbecile.
Those people are loonies living out on the fringe. (They’re not on the fringe for supporting Trump; they’re “out there” thanks to their own madness.) They’re not going to apologize for anything; it’s doubtful they’ll ever be self-aware enough to realize they have anything to apologize for.
What I’m having a hard time with is the Christian leaders, the musicians and singers, the very public and famous writers and speakers, who made noise in Trump’s favor while he was in office, but who’ve gone silent on the topic since he left.
Maybe it’s best to leave well enough alone, you say. I’d love to. But the particular group of Christian leaders and role models I’m referring to is made up of high-profile Believers that many, myself included, once looked to for moral and biblical guidance. I let them lead me in worship. I trusted that their scriptural wisdom was light years beyond my own.
Those days are gone.
I can’t take James Dobson seriously after he blasted Christianity Today for its article calling for Trump’s removal—an article that begged Christian leaders to open their eyes to the evil they were helping to spread. I can’t listen to Michael Tait since he took the stage at a Trump rally alongside the President in Miami. Tait had, just weeks before, also signed his name to an open letter denouncing that same Christianity Today article, alongside fellow Christian entertainers and worship leaders Danny Gokey, Chonda Pierce, and others, as well as many prominent Evangelical ministers. We can no longer afford to consider the leadership and wisdom offered by Franklin Graham, John MacArthur, or the aforementioned Mr. Dobson, as being built on a foundation of biblical principles.
Because all of these individuals made it clear how remarkably strong their support was for Mr. Trump—no matter what he did. It was so strong, that for most of them, dislike or distrust of him was tantamount to spiritual treason.
To the best of my knowledge, none of these individuals have spoken up now that the dust has settled, acknowledging their willful promotion and celebration of the regime of one of the most corrupt men in American history. Trump’s victories were their victories. They cheered when he pushed through a policy they liked while refusing to gaze at the countless things he did and said to promote fear and hatred of The Other. (You know, them. The ones not like you. The people Jesus liked to call “the least of these.”)
Let me be clear. I’m not campaigning for any of these people to be punished. I don’t even require an apology. Because I still believe most of them are God-fearing people who did what they genuinely thought was right at the time.
What I need is an acknowledgment from them that they still know the difference between right and wrong. Their willingness to be counted among Trump’s most strident defenders and enthusiasts—and their sudden silence on the subject now that the winds have changed—has muddied their morality to the point that it’s no longer clear.
So this is me stepping up to the mic, and I pray my own words come through exceedingly clear.
Dear staunch Trump Evangelical ally,
We, the Body of Christ, your brothers and sisters from all walks of life, need to see and/or hear regret from you for very loudly cheering in Donald Trump’s corner. For holding him in high esteem. For standing shoulder-to-shoulder with him, counting him a devout Believer when his actions and lifestyle made it clear he’s anything but.
“That’s not for you to say,” you might reply. “That’s not your place.”
You’re right, it’s not. It’s God’s place, and He lays out remarkably clearly exactly what He expects from those who lead in His name.
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
I Timothy 3:1–7
This is not a grey area. It’s not open to debate. If you want to open something, open one of the Gospels and read the red letters.
You haven’t displayed one shred of remorse for your actions — actions that, thanks to Timothy, can only be defined as unbiblical. And those actions had dire ramifications, as we saw on January 6th. What’s worse, some of you still profess this world-class charlatan to be a man of God, and his any and all detractors to be blinded by the Devil.
This makes it impossible to take you seriously as an authentic Christian.
We all make terrible mistakes. All have sinned and fallen short. I wouldn’t care to list my sins anymore than you would. That’s the thing that sets Christian artisans and leaders and thinkers and influencers apart from the secular world: we admit to being imperfect, that we’ll never be perfect, and that without Jesus, we’d be getting exactly what we deserve right now in the lowest reaches of Hell. It’s His love and mercy we celebrate and worship and give gratitude for, not any human person’s.
So there’s the rub. It’s not that throwing your weight behind Donald Trump was a bad call. It was. A flat-out, big honking mistake.
What matters is that you own it.
(By the way, please don’t bother trying to call this out as “judging” you or your actions. There’s a difference between judgment and accountability.)
Issue a press release, post a blurb on social media, do an interview with Relevant that opens a dialogue about what happened and why and how we can keep it from happening again and recover from all this together. I don’t care how you say it or do it.
Just stop pretending like all of the madness that occurred during Trump’s tenure never happened — and that you had no part in it. Show even a speck of cognizance as a Christian, and particularly a Christian in ministry over others, that you understand what happened over the last four years. And that you regret your part in it, however big or small that part may have been.
People still trust you, they still believe in you and your testimony and your ministry. The rest of us want to trust and believe in you again.
God calls those in positions of influence and power to a high standard. It doesn’t matter if you fall short of it. You’re human, so it’s going to happen. What matters is what comes next. It matters that you acknowledge when falling short of God’s standard leads to terrible consequences.