Of all the baffling aspects of the Donald Trump phenomenon, one of the most baffling and appalling for me has been the support he has had from white Evangelical Protestants and Catholics. Okay, I get the opposition to abortion, but surely Christian values can’t be reduced to opposition to abortion. What about love, respect, caring for the poor and the vulnerable? Pope Francis worries about the plight of refugees, while Donald Trump wants to ban them. I want to confront Christian Trump supporters: How can you support a man who has publicly made lewd comments about his own daughter? Doesn’t his constant bragging about being rich and never admitting to an error or a fault sort of contradict the central teaching of the man you worship as God?
Then the other day I heard an Evangelical Christian Trump supporter say, “Hey, we haven’t elected a Theologian-in-Chief; we’ve elected a Commander-in-Chief. So Donald Trump is not a great Christian?” he asked rhetorically. “Big news,” he said sarcastically.
Obviously, Christian support for Donald Trump has nothing whatever to do with actual Christian values and everything to do with white Christian cultural angst. Many white Christians in America feel they have been left behind in a world that is rapidly embracing women’s rights, gay rights, and racial diversity. The so-called pro-life, anti-abortion stuff is just window dressing. What Donald Trump’s white Evangelical Christian and Catholic supporters want is to turn the clock back to a time when women stayed in their place, gays stayed in the closet, and white men got all the good jobs. If what most of us naïve non-Christians think of as Christian values had any purchase among actual American Christians, they would have stood up in large numbers against gun violence when 20 children between six and seven years old were slaughtered at Sandy Hook elementary school, not screamed about Second-Amendment rights. They would be leading marches to protest the gunning down of unarmed black men by police, not praising the police. They would be shielding American Muslims against hate crimes, not voting for a man who incites hate crimes.
A lot of what passes for Christian values in America these days is just anger, fear, bigotry and racism. With a little help from the Russians, the fearful Christian bigots have managed to put a vulgar little sociopath with delusions of grandeur in the White House. What do they think Jesus would have done?