One of the subtitles in the fourth chapter of Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump is titled “Playing with Politics, Getting Burned.” In that section I offer a few historical examples of conservative evangelicals who got too close to politics and paid a price.
In his recent piece at Vanity Fair, writer and former NPR executive Ken Stern addresses the same theme. His piece is based on several visits to an Assembly of God congregation in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He finds a growing ambivalence to Trump among American evangelicals.
Here is a taste of “‘Trump Has Kept His End Of The Bargain‘: Can Evangelicals Dance With The Devil And Not Get Burned”:
The ambivalence to Trump, combined with a growing discontent with the state of public discourse in the country, is leading some evangelicals to contemplate a step back from politics. When I ask Karen Swallow Prior, a professor at Liberty University and a well-known commentator on public issues, about the evangelical views on Trump, she barely suppresses a sigh and tells me that she is trying to avoid the anguish of politics, and focus her energy on matters of tolerance and public respect. Hours later, an e-mail pops into my inbox from Pastor Steve, expressing his initial reluctance at having me interrogate his congregation about politics. He tells me that he is distressed by the daily conflict and “we’re really trying to get back to the roots of Christianity, which is to love everyone by sharing the Good News of the Bible, and not getting caught up in issues that eternally won’t matter.” Later, he confides his fears on how politics could divide his congregation and that he, and other pastors, need to refocus on community services where they could see collective impact: feeding the hungry, helping single parents with the challenges of work and home, and supporting local schools. These are themes now being echoed by the new head of the Southern Baptist Convention, J. D. Greear, who last week told NPR that it is time “to decouple the identity of the Church from particular political platforms.“
It is a surprising irony for a coalition that has long sought to abrade the wall of church and state. Some 40 years after the founding of the Moral Majority and the emergence of the white evangelical community as a coherent force in American politics, some evangelicals are finding that the old adage “politics makes strange bedfellows” can have a distressing consequence to it, too. If you are going to revel in the economic and social policy successes of this administration, it is uncomfortably difficult to evade responsibility for the division, anger, and social dislocation engendered by Trump.
Read the entire piece here.