Politics & the American Evangelical Right

How can I write without mentioning the historical events going on in the United States? Yes, most of you are most probably over it by now, but there are some real lessons that as Christians we need to grasp from this. And they are not what you would think!

Yes, Trump as president is a head scratcher, but the people chose and the result is what it is. The sad thing is the reputation Evangelical Christians have amassed during the election. Unfortunately, most media outlets are now squarely blaming the Evangelical influence in making Trump president. From the response of the many friends I have in the US, I would have to agree with that assessment!

So what are they thinking? Why would they be encouraged to vote for Trump? 

The answer is pretty straight forward, and understandable. Trump is representing the Republican platform. That alone is sufficient. If it were Paris Hilton or Scooby Doo running for president it wouldn't matter, just so long as they are representing the party platform. Of course, it does go a little deeper than that. As president he will be the one to select the Supreme Court judges of which up to 4 positions will be available during his tenure as president. The choosing of judges will have a huge impact on US society. For one thing, the abortion issue. For American Christians, who firmly believe that their nation is founded on Christian principles, being able to influence legislature for the good of their moral and religious beliefs is paramount. We can all understand that regardless of our religious or philosophical persuasion.

But I don't believe that is what is driving this. It is the issue of "Making America Great Again" which speaks to their imbedded and somewhat wayward belief in manifest destiny (and especially the religious implications of manifest destiny) that actually pollutes the bigger picture. Manifest Destiny is a term that is foreign to us here in NZ, but it is the foundation from which America was built on, and it is the fabric that weaves their culture together. It taints their interpretation of the Bible, which is why many of us here scratch our heads and wonder how they can come up with such bizarre theology. Just read Bethel's Bill Johnson's statement! More on that later!!! 

Presentation1The sad thing is not that the American Evangelical Right were so vocal in voting. It's the implications such a vocal vote has for the rest of Christianity in the US (and the world). You see, Americans used to be real big on the separation of Church and State. Politics was politics and Religion was religion. Never mix the two. But slowly, over the course of the last couple of decades politics and religion have mixed to form a rather potent and deadly cocktail. So has the American view of manifest destiny and religion! It is why the idea of Israel being God's elect appeals so much to conservative American Evangelicals. They see that in themselves. It is why so many are so irrationally outspoken for their rights (even though the Bible screams to us to die to ourselves) and guns. It is also why they are so irrationally against the idea of socialism and to some extent, globalisation - they speak against manifest destiny. In a sense, you can understand their hostility toward the Democrat platform! For many conservative Evangelicals you cannot be Christian and be democrat. If you are a Christian, then you are Republican. Anything democrat is demonised with a scrutiny that is never used on yourself, let alone the party you follow.

The result of all this is that conservative American Evangelicals have gone from turning to God to help shape their communities to turning to politicians to help determine their communities. Instigating law and imposing their way of life on others has become the Evangelical's modus operandi. This is their new form of evangelism. Take our way or the highway. Unfortunately, people are beginning to equate that perverse thinking as mainstream Christian theology, both in America and all over the world. 

And it's hard for them to see otherwise. As one American Christian friend of mine announced so proudly and succinctly on Facebook:

"For those now wanting to leave the US, can I help you pack your bags!"

That is not a statement I would expect from anyone who calls themselves a Christ follower. But it is a statement I would expect from a political candidate follower!

Bethel's Bill Johnson's response to voting for Trump (you can read his post HERE) provides a great example of the morphing of church and politics. For someone that is considered a church leader (albeit a controversial one), there is a clear confusion between the economy of the Kingdom and Amercian Capitalism. Instead of hearing biblically inspired truth, Johnson's response is more like politically inspired biblical twisting. 

And that's the difference. More and more conservative Evangelicals in America are becoming known as Republicans and less and less known as followers of Jesus Christ. Their Facebook pages are a testimony to what's really dear to their heart! 

We have to first and foremost understand that we need to stand apart (Romans 12:2, 1 John 2:15) from the world of politics. As New Zealand Christians we need to learn this and bury it deep in our hearts. It's not legislation that changes the world. It's changed hearts that do! God must always come first, and Christ's character must be what we strive for.

Next year we will be faced with our own elections. The last one was quite vitriolic by Kiwi standards. How can we learn from America's mistakes? As Christians, how can we show more of the love the Lord has for all people (John 3:16) and less of the demanding our rights and imposing on others?