Today I received multiple e-mails, tweets, and messages asking me if I know David French or if I have given him a copy of Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump. His recent piece in Time, “Evangelicals Are Supporting Trump Out of Fear, Not Faith,” sounds quite familiar.
Here is a taste:
White evangelicals are largely Republican, and they’re generally going to vote for Republicans. And proximity to power has always had its attractions for religious charlatans of all stripes. But I’d suggest the real reason for the breadth and depth of evangelical support is deeper and–perversely–even more destructive to its religious witness.
That reason is fear.
Talk to engaged evangelicals, and fear is all too often a dominant theme of their political life. The church is under siege from a hostile culture. Religious institutions are under legal attack from progressives. The left wants nuns to facilitate access to abortifacients and contraceptives, it wants Christian adoption agencies to compromise their conscience or close, and it even casts into doubt the tax exemptions of religious education institutions if they adhere to traditional Christian sexual ethics.
These issues are legally important, and there are reasons for evangelicals to be concerned. But there is no reason for evangelicals to abandon long-held principles to behave like any other political-interest group.
Instead, the evangelical church is called to be a source of light in a darkening world. It is not given the luxury of fear-based decisionmaking. Indeed, of all the groups in American life who believe they have the least to fear from American politics, Christians should top the list. The faithful should reject fear.
Read the entire piece here.
And no, I have never met French, nor, as far as I know, did Eerdmans Publishing send him a copy of Believe Me.
French also writes:
But in 2016, something snapped. I saw Christian men and women whom I’ve known and respected for years respond with raw fear at the very idea of a Hillary Clinton presidency. They believed she was going to place the church in mortal danger. The Christian writer Eric Metaxas wrote that if Hillary won, America’s chance to have a “Supreme Court that values the Constitution” will be “gone.” “Not for four years, not for eight,” he said, “but forever.”
This is true, and I write about it in Believe Me, but I go one step further by showing that 2016 was not the first time that white evangelicals have played the fear card. In fact, it is a longstanding (three centuries!) feature of evangelical political engagement.