I’ve followed the uproar caused by Christianity Today finally questioning evangelical Republicans’ uncompromising support of President Donald Trump. If there is a silver lining to his election, it is that we can finally move our nation squarely into the post-Christian landscape. (We’ve been sliding for a while; this makes it official.) We’ve been told for decades, if not all of our history, we are a Judeo-Christian country, girded by strong moral underpinnings. With the mystifying embrace of Trump by those who are supposed to be our moral vanguards, we can finally “junk” that moral compass.
I grew up in and embraced the church. In the formative adult years of my late 20s, back when Bill Clinton was president, I was church-shopping, going to many churches. All I heard from Evangelicals was the importance of moral character, short-term political and economic successes be damned (the economy under Clinton was humming).
Ironically, with Trump, we have an a-moral, a-political and a-religious man who embodies the antithesis of everything evangelicals believe: the need for forgiveness, goodness, honesty, humility, compassion, grace, even good manners.
Whether Trump serves three, four or eight years, someday Trump will be gone and the damage caused by his supporters led by James Dobson and Franklin Graham cannot be undone. Jesus Christ made very clear that the purpose of salt (his followers) was to preserve the larger food-store (America). He made it very clear that when salt loses its saltiness, it is thrown out.
The final nail in the coffin of our Christian country comes at the hands of evangelicals (many of whom, head-scratchingly, are my family and friends). It is a strange and sad absurdity to watch many who have told us who to love and how to act, what to condemn and what to praise, according to Scripture they decry is as relevant as it has ever been, suddenly embrace a man who could care less, sacrificed on the altar of short-term political goals and not remember all the fire and brimstone vitriol once hurled at such immoral behavior.
A great man once said: “You strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel.” (Jesus. I trust the name is familiar.) We’ve known for decades that some evangelicals have big mouths; but are they that big? When Trump is gone, as he will be someday, evangelicals will have absolutely no moral footing from which to lead on anything, having gambled away all their moral chips at Trump’s craps table who, gleefully, cashes them to build more monuments with the name Trump emblazoned in gold.
Fine. Had the evangelicals, like the Mormons, found they could not support Hillary Clinton nor Trump, thus chose not to support either and Trump was elected anyway — fine. In the larger scheme of things, beyond merely the importance of our moral underpinnings, Trump’s anti-tradition, -history, -intellect, -everything Reality-TV-Twitterati administration is exactly the ADD, president all of us as a nation deserve. We tolerate a man who does not revere these ideals because, sadly, we don’t either.
My larger aim is simply to speak my profound disappointment and sorrow that I feel for my own people — my evangelical and Catholic brothers and sisters — who have let cheap politics force them to eschew their sacred duty as Christian witnesses.
The fault here is not non-Christians acting like non-Christians, but Christians not acting like the salt they are. Well … were.
Chip MacEnulty is a Colorado Springs native. He is a high school teacher in his 22nd year of teaching.