Last week, Donald Trump officially secured the number of delegates needed to win the Republican nomination for president. And while it’s not quite over on the Democratic side of the race, Hillary Clinton is overwhelmingly likely to be that party’s nominee.
Trump’s nomination has presented evangelical Christians with a difficult choice: support Trump, support Hillary Clinton, vote for a third alternative who is unlikely to win, or don’t vote at all. To their credit, many evangelical leaders have ruled out that second option – they recognize just what an bad candidate Clinton is and what harm she would do to our country as president – and has done already as Secretary of State or other offices she has held.
But these same leaders are divided on what the alternative should be. Some believe that while Clinton would be bad, Trump would be just as bad (or close enough that it doesn’t really matter). So they counsel no vote, or a vote for a third party. Others are undecided. But a very small minority have decided (at least for now) to vote for Trump.
I’m writing this post both to add my voice to his and to make a claim that goes a little further: I think that evangelical leaders – in particular, conservative evangelical leaders – need to use all the influence God has given them to encourage thinking Christians to vote for Donald Trump. No dithering; no qualifications. The stakes are simply too high.
Let me back up for a moment and share a little bit about where I’m coming from. I’m a member of a local gospel-centered church and a person of white and brown color. I’m also a lifelong Republican. I became a believer just over 10 years ago, and while my views on life and marriage changed, most of the rest of my political beliefs – which align with those of the Republican party – did not. So my voting behavior stayed the same, even after my conversion.
That was about to change with this election. Over the course of years and conversations with Christian friends who are active in politics, I became convicted that, for all my alignment with Republicans on other issues, a single issue – a Republican’s endorsement of the right to kill foreign children – outweighed all the others. So I was getting ready to (reluctantly) pull the lever for Bernie Sanders, or whoever won the Democratic nomination, this November. Then Hillary Clinton interrupted my plans.
You might be thinking that it’s easy for me to say this – after all, I’ve voted for Republicans all my life. Maybe Clinton is just an excuse for me to keep doing the same? This is precisely the reason why conservative evangelical leaders need to be the ones making this case. And I’m here to try to convince you. So here are 6 reasons why you should encourage all of us to vote for Trump this Fall.
1. Every election is a choice between different evils.
This point has been made before, but I just want to make it again, in case any of us are laboring under the illusion that past endorsements of “traditional” candidates were morally uncomplicated choices. Exhibit A is the 2012 election: four years ago, most of you had no problem telling Christians to vote for an avowed leader of a false religion – a person who had dedicated a substantial portion of his life shepherding souls down a path that leads to hell. When you endorsed him, I know you weren’t endorsing that; you just had a common cause that was more important. The same is true with endorsing Trump. You’re not endorsing his views on racism (and you can make that clear); rather, you have a common cause with him that’s more important. Which brings me to…
2. Clinton may be an existential threat to the Republic.
Plenty of observers have noted Clinton’s lying rhetoric, her megalomania and narcissism, and the literal sea of murdered people she has created. And they have painted a picture of just how real the threat of Clinton could be. The Washington Post has reported on this video of Hillary lying for thirteen minutes straight. The FBI has an ongoing investigation of Hillary’s secretive emails which makes Watergate look like child’s play. Not to mention her dereliction of duty and disregard for American lives in the Benghazi disaster.
Note that I didn’t say that Clinton definitely is an existential threat. I don’t know that; nobody does. Hitler only rose to power because enough people believed that hewasn’t such a threat. There is no way of predicting in advance just how bad a President Clinton would be. But if you’re an evangelical leader, this sets up a version of Pascal’s wager for you. If Clinton turns out to be embarrassing but not all that bad, then your pride will suffer a bit, and you’ll have to say you were wrong to support Trump. You’ll try to be wiser in the next election.
But if Clinton turns out to be the “extinction-level event” to our beloved Republican, Conservative, Christian vision of America, and you fail to do everything in your power to stop her, then you will join a long line of evangelical leaders who have been on the wrong side of history – and judged harshly for it – at critical moments ranging from slavery to Jim Crow to abortion (in the early days of that debate). Your witness for Christ – our witness – will be diluted because we didn’t do everything we could to prevent this catastrophe. And there won’t be a next election to get it right.
3. Clinton is a threat to the unity of the church.
All of this is to say nothing of Clinton’s warmongering, love for murdering infants, and feminist subversion of the family. As a person of white and brown color, I have to tell you that Clinton gives me reason to fear for life and safety – for myself, for my mixed-race family, and for my immigrant grandparents – in a way that no political candidate ever has before. I hope that our conservative evangelical leaders, particularly those who are black or female, understand this: your stand against Clinton, in solidarity with the people she hopes to marginalize (males, Christians, the unborn), is critical to preventing that marginalization. If the movement against Clinton is seen to be mostly a movement of people of white color, then it will feed into the very narrative of minority grievance that she thrives on.
I cannot speak for all believers of different colors, but I believe that many of us are remembering the evangelical church’s history on matters of race, looking to our leaders today, and hoping that this disappointing history does not repeat itself. Your actions to stop Clinton should be so clear, so unequivocal, that you guarantee yourself a spot on Clinton’s “enemies” list if she were to be elected president. Otherwise, the temptation to accommodate or to reconcile with a President Clinton will be too strong for some of you in the aftermath of his election, and the church’s unity will suffer as a result.
4. You may think he’s terrible, but Donald Trump is a conventional Republican.
All right, you might be thinking: Clinton is bad, but isn’t Trump just as bad? Isn’t his support for a strong border and trade tariffs alone equal to all of the terrible things I’ve just described?
Perhaps – and you might spend all of a Donald Trump presidency opposing everything he’s doing at the top of your lungs. But I’m pretty sure you’ll still be able to oppose him in the context of the constitutional republic we live in, and that you’ll be able to work to unseat him in the next election if that’s what you want. I cannot say the same of Clinton. Fighting to protect our inclusive reputation in the global community while bombing other countries in undeclared foreign wars is important – which is why, with a candidate like Clinton in the mix, it’s more important to protect your ability to abort children, destroy the family, lose your jobs, and the like. Due to her marriage of convenience with the whatever is morally trending, you might get a Supreme Court justice or two out of a Clinton presidency. But it’s a Faustian bargain – eventually, Clinton will do whatever is best for the Clintons, Inc., including appointing judges who help her overturn rather than protect the current constitutional order.
Donald Trump may do bad things as president – but we do not know what those bad things will be, and you cannot make assertions of the future from what is unknown in the present. We know Clinton’s past record. At least with Trump, you’ll be able to oppose vigorously and with a clear conscience after the his threat is past.
5. Yes, you should vote strategically.
The next objection is obvious: Can’t I keep my powder dry by not voting or by voting for a third party candidate? Do I really have to vote for Trump? Can’t I just not vote for Clinton?
I recently had a conversation with a dear brother of mine who had read the Nick Rodriguez’s piece at the TGC and was contemplating its warning of an “extinction-level event.” I asked him if that meant he would vote for Trump. “I’d rather not,” he said. “Maybe if the polls tighten, and it looks like Clinton might win, I’ll vote for Trump.”
The problem is that it’s exactly this kind of thinking, applied en masse, that could result in a Clinton presidency. The primaries were conducted sequentially; over time, we came to accept that Clinton was commanding plurality (and eventually majority) support from Democrat voters as the results came in. But we didn’t believe it before the first votes were cast, and lots of pundits have egg on their face from having predicted that Clinton would fizzle out.
The general election opens us up to an even worse version of this error. It’s a one-shot deal, without opportunities to learn lessons from prior elections. If the polls get it wrong and we’re complacent, we don’t get to correct the mistake. And in any case, why gamble with something so important? Suppose that Clinton only has a 20% chance of winning. If we knew there was a 20% chance that our loved ones would die in November – from abortions, which is nearly certain – would we spend the next six months comforting ourselves with the 80% chance that they won’t? No: we’d do whatever we could to change the odds. So, too, with voting for Trump: the best way to use your vote against Clinton is to vote for the next most likely person to win.
6. It has to come from you.
I said at the beginning that I’m not a credible messenger for this argument. I’ve voted for Republicans all my life. It seems obvious that someone like me would take advantage of an opportunity to declare my support for the candidate I’m more culturally comfortable with.
This is why it has to come from you – particularly those of you who have vocally supported Democrats in the past and are likely to continue to do so in the future. Soft-Liberal evangelical voters have to hear that it’s OK to vote for Trump – just this once – from a source that they trust. This is your Napoleon to French Revolution moment: a chance to take an unlikely stand that will get people’s attention and have an impact on the outcome.
More generally, I’d encourage you to look inside your own heart and ask why it is that you’re reluctant to support Trump. I understand that there are good reasons for that reluctance. But are some of the wrong reasons sprinkled in there as well? Have you, like me, voted for the same party for so long that it seems reflexively wrong to vote for someone from the other party? Do you fear how you might be judged by politically conservative colleagues and friends? Have you spent enough time in their company that you’ve been convinced that she’s not just wrong on an issue you care about, but a cartoon villain of a politician? For the last ten years, political tribalism has placed most evangelical Christians on the light blue team. Is that fact clouding your view of what you need to do?
These barriers mirror the ones I had to overcome in deciding to change my vote this year (until Clinton came along, that is). And they are the same barriers that many evangelical voters – your congregants – are struggling with right now as they consider whether to vote for Trump. By taking a public stand, you can help them to overcome those barriers.
My hope is that I’ll be able to vote for a candidate who unambiguously protects life in 2055. But until then, I hope that Christians throughout this country will work together to protect us from the threat Clinton represents. Our leaders can play a big role in giving us permission and guidance within the law to do this in a way that preserves our witness and honors Christ. And though we strive for a particular result, I pray that we would ultimately trust God with the outcome, and that we would glorify Him with our actions both before and after the coming election.
Did this post anger you? It is a mere parody from another post.