The day evangelicals lost their testimony: Falwell endorses Trump
A few years ago, I was teaching a week-long course at the Grunewald Guild. There had been some drama with one of the interns and his perception that the environment was repressive, which is not usually a complaint people have about the Guild. The intern was a recent college graduate and was not religious. He decided to intern with some friends despite the Guild being a religious environment. I had a good relationship with him so we were walking through the forest talking about the issues. This young man had grown up in a secular home and described to me how in his home Christians were the “bad guys.” As we talked, I learned it was mostly for political reasons. The religious right stood against everything his family believed in.
I am certainly not saying that Christians need to modify their politics so that others like them. But, we do have to realize that others don’t always view us as the good guys. Because of this it is all the more important that we make sure our politics reflect the value of love. I often look to two passages in scripture to get a broad understanding of how God wants us to deal with people. The first is in Matthew 22:39 when Jesus said the second most important commandment (after loving God) was to love our neighbors as ourselves. In the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus made clear that our neighbor was not only our friends but those who seem “other”: The religiously different, downtrodden, and scary. The second place I look is to Micah 6:8 where it reads, “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” So, God wants us to love, act justly, love mercy, and be humble.
With that in mind, it is shocking to me that Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed Donald Trump yesterday. I know that everyone expected it. But, the idea of a Christian supporting the most pompous, hateful, merciless, and bigoted candidate is repugnant to me. Love, mercy, and humility are not words that many would use to describe Trump.
Jerry Falwell Jr. isn’t all Christianity or even all evangelicalism. But, he is the president of a major Christian university and the son of the man who galvanized the religious right almost 40 years ago as the Moral Majority. To many his endorsement equates with the endorsement of evangelicalism.
Christ said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” We are to be known by our love. How will that happen when we endorse hate? To do anything other than condemn Donald Trump’s rhetoric is to sacrifice our witness. And, we cannot condemn it quietly. When the endorsement of Trump spreads across news media and is yelled from the highest mountain peak we cannot whisper that we don’t support Trump. We must loudly proclaim that the ideals of Trump are not the ideals of Christ. His hate does not represent our Lord and Savior. Our love must be louder than his hate. Love loudly.