Political pundits and Christian leaders alike are bewildered by the fact that Donald Trump is having such success with evangelical voters. After all, he does not have a "born-again" sort of history and recently admitted that he had never asked for forgiveness. What could it be that draws evangelicals to Trump?
The pundits are befuddled because they do not understand the depth of frustration and anger evangelicals feel towards the political establishment. Evangelicals feel "walked-on" by Obama and the Democrats and betrayed by the Republicans whom they elected and sent to Congress. They feel that their voice is ignored by both Democrats and Republicans, and they are fed up with politics as usual.
I recently saw this frustration and anger firsthand in a Bible study I was leading. I am a nonpolitical sort of person who seeks to present the gospel message free from the taint of divisive, political wrangling. But as we prepared to pray for America on this occasion, I asked those present for their thoughts on the condition of the country. I was surprised at the depth of frustration and anger that came forth toward both Democrats and Republicans. It was an eye-opening experience.
Based on what I heard that evening, here are five reasons many evangelicals are embracing Donald Trump.
1. Evangelicals feel betrayed by the Republican majority whom they elected and sent to Washington, D.C., to stop Obama's "fundamental transformation" of the nation. They see the Republican majority whom they elected as being feckless, timid and ineffective. They find this very frustrating and they see Trump as someone with the backbone to stand up to the Democrats.
2. Evangelicals are appalled at this president's use of executive orders to bypass Congress and further his liberal agenda, and they are disheartened at the ineffectiveness of Congress to stand against this misuse of power. One person in the Bible study asked with great intensity, "Why doesn't somebody stop him?" Many evangelicals see Trump as the one who will do just that.
3. Evangelicals feel they have lost their voice and that America is no longer a nation of "we the people," but a nation being run by a liberal president, a few black-robed, liberal justices and an army of unelected, government bureaucrats. They felt this deeply when five, unelected, liberal justices struck down the state laws instituted by "we the people" that had defined marriage as being between one man and one woman. They are looking for a strong "voice" in Washington, D.C., and right or wrong, many see Trump as providing that voice.
4. Evangelicals are dismayed to see this administration's hostility toward everything Christian in the public square, with attempts to ban public prayers and the display of Christian symbols on federal and state property. They see this president ordering the removal of Christian symbols from behind the podium when he speaks at a Catholic University and dispensing with the traditional "Christmas tree" and calling it a "Holiday tree." This trend is very disturbing to evangelicals. In spite of Trump's nonevangelical past, they hear his bold promise to reverse this trend.
5. Evangelicals are very concerned about national security and they see this president as being naïve and in a state of denial by his refusal to use the words "Islamic terrorist." They see his tepid and flippant attitude toward ISIS, and they realize this weak approach has left that terrorist organization free to slaughter thousands of Christians in the Middle East. Because of this, they do not trust him or his party to protect them from Islamic extremists.
When Trump, therefore, says, "We have stupid leaders in Washington, D.C.," he is expressing what many evangelicals deeply feel. When he says, "I will defend Christianity," evangelicals are grateful for they have seen and experienced the growing hostility toward Christians during the Obama administration. When Trump emphatically declares, "I will destroy ISIS," evangelicals respond with enthusiasm for they are very concerned about national security and frustrated by the Obama administration's tepid and flippant response to Islamic terrorism.
I have not been a Trump supporter and did not vote for him in the recent Texas primary. Nonetheless, it is obvious to even me that he is addressing with clarity and force the deep frustration and anger being felt by evangelicals.
The Republican establishment would, therefore, be wise to dispense with their scorched-earth plan to destroy Trump and his candidacy. They will only hurt themselves and the party and nation they claim to love. Why not, instead, seek to understand why these millions of good, decent Americans are so frustrated and angry? Why not seek to address those concerns with a bold, proactive vision and plan? Why not?
The Duty of Christian Citizens
In the midst of a particularly nasty political season, we as Christians must remember that we are also citizens and representative of another and higher kingdom. As members of God's family and citizens of His kingdom, we are held to a higher standard, regardless of which candidate we support. We must be salt and light in the midst of the nastiness, crudeness, and political posturing, as Jesus commanded in Matthew 5:13-16.
Let us also remember that when God visited this planet 2,000 years ago in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, He did not identify with any of the numerous political and religious parties that were then existing in Israel. How could He? His purpose and kingdom transcended all earthly politics. He had not come to take sides, but to take over. He is Lord!
So during this election season, let's not forget to pray the prayer that Jesus gave us to pray—a prayer that expresses that transcendent vision He left us. My wife, Dr. Susan Hyatt, is right. It is a prayer for revival and spiritual awakening in the land.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth, as it is in heaven.
Dr. Eddie L. Hyatt is an author, teacher and ordained minister who has a vision for another Great Awakening in America and around the world. His books on Biblical faith and Spiritual awakening are available from Amazon and from his website at eddiehyatt.com.
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