A new genre is emerging in popular religious writing in America. Let’s call it the “I am no longer an evangelical because of Donald Trump” genre. I have flirted with this genre many times here and elsewhere, but never to the degree of Illiff School of Theology profressor Miguel De La Torre. In a scathing and strangely titled piece “The death of Christianity in the U.S.,” De La Torre writes:
As a young man, I walked down the sawdust aisle at a Southern Baptist church and gave my heart to Jesus. Besides offering my broken heart, I also gave my mind to understanding God, and my arm to procuring God’s call for justice. I have always considered myself to be an evangelical, but I can no longer allow my name to be tarnished by that political party masquerading as Christian. Like many women and men of good will who still struggle to believe, but not in the evangelical political agenda, I too no longer want or wish to be associated with an ideology responsible for tearing humanity apart. But if you, dear reader, still cling to a hate-mongering ideology, may I humbly suggest you get saved.
OK professor De La Torre, why don’t you tell us what you really think! 🙂
De La Torre anticipates that some readers may think that he is being too harsh:
You might wonder if my condemnation is too harsh. It is not, for the Spirit of the Lord has convicted me to shout from the mountaintop how God’s precious children are being devoured by the hatred and bigotry of those who have positioned themselves as the voice of God in America.
Read the entire piece here.
De La Torre’s understanding of evangelicalism draws from some of the movement’s darkest corners. He paints with a very broad brush. Not all evangelicals embrace the Prosperity Gospel, blame the coming of hurricane Harvey on homosexuality, fall into the “court evangelical” category, supported Trump’s comments on Charlottesville, or believe in a Jesus who is “satanic.”
Even the 81% of evangelicals who voted for Donald Trump would not fall into most of these categories. I spent the last four Sundays with mostly white evangelicals in central Pennsylvania–Trump country–who were in search of resources to help them be more faithful Christians in the political arena. Many of them voted for Trump, but I don’t think that they would recognize themselves in De La Torre’s piece.
Don’t get me wrong. I have strong disagreements with the 81%. I even wrote a forthcoming book about it. But I would argue that De La Torre’s prophetic word fails to understand the diversity of American evangelicals, even among the 81%. The piece tells us more about De La Torre than it does American evangelicalism. Moreover, his “shout from the mountaintop” style will do little to reach the conservative evangelical who may have voted for Trump and just might be convinced be convinced that it was a bad move.
De La Torre’s post is even too strong for this anti-Trumper.