I was recently on the phone with a religion reporter for a national outlet who is very good at her/his job. The reporter was trying to get a sense of the diverse nature of white evangelicalism. For example, we talked a lot about Betsy DeVos. I tried to explain (although she/he already knew this) that just because Betsy DeVos went to Calvin College, is Dutch Reformed, or believes in advancing the “Kingdom of God,” does not mean that everyone affiliated with Calvin College, the Christian Reformed Church, or advancing the Kingdom of God view political matters in the same way or supported DeVos’s nomination for Secretary of Education.
I thought about this phone conversation again when I read Jeremy Weber’s recent piece in Christianity Today on the evangelical leaders who signed a letter opposing Donald Trump’s recent ban on refugees from Muslim countries. Many in the media like to appeal to the 81% of voting evangelicals who pulled the lever for Donald Trump. This is true. But for every Robert Jeffress, Franklin Graham, and Jerry Falwell Jr. there is also a Tim Keller, Richard Mouw, and Max Lucado.
The evangelical leaders who oppose Trump’s ban include (in addition to Keller Mouw, and Lucado): Bill Hybels (Willow Creek Community Church), Leith Anderson (President of the National Association of Evangelicals), John Perkins (Christian Community Development Association and evangelical Civil Rights activist), Daniel Akin (President of Southeastern Theological Seminary), Stuart and Jill Briscoe (former pastors of Elmbrook Church in Wisconsin), Joel Hunter (pastor of Northland Church in Florida and former spiritual adviser to Barack Obama), Shirley Hoogstra (Director of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities), and. Richard Waybright (pastor of Lake Avenue Church in California and former president of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School).
It is worth noting that most of these signers are not the usual suspects. In other words, they are not the left-leaning evangelicals of the Jim Wallis or Ron Sider political camp.
It strikes me from reading Weber’s article that the evangelical support for Trump’s ban comes from the grassroots, not evangelical leaders. While I am sure that there are many evangelicals who support Trump’s ban, there may be more who oppose it, regardless of how they voted in November.