Was It Worth It?

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As many readers know, I am in the midst of the promotional campaign for Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.  I am sure that the recent retirement of Anthony Kennedy, and his almost certain replacement with a more conservative justice, will be a major theme of my upcoming interviews and speaking engagements.

It is probably premature to think about whether a conservative Trump court will overturn Roe v. Wade.  A lot has to happen before that occurs, but I think it is safe to say that it is more likely today than it was before Kennedy’s announcement.

Abortion remains at the top of the Christian Right agenda.  Trump’s evangelicals care more about abortion than they do religious liberty, gay marriage, immigration, or any other social issue.

When it comes to dealing with the problem of abortion, the members of the Christian Right have been reading from the same political playbook for more than four decades.  It teaches them that the best way to bring an end to abortion in America is to elect the right President, who, in turn, will support the right justices.

But it is not exactly clear how this strategy will bring an end to abortion in America.  If Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court, the issue will be sent back to the states.  Abortion is very likely to remain legal in the so-called blue-states, including California and New York (just under 20% of the population), and illegal in many of so-called red states, especially in the deep South.  State legislatures will need to decide how they will handle the abortion issue in the remaining states, but a significant number of them will probably allow abortion in some form.  To put it simply, overturning Roe v. Wade will not end abortion in America.  (I write about this in greater depth in Believe Me).

With this in mind, one must ask conservative evangelicals if getting into bed with Donald Trump was worth it.

Rachel Held Evans put it bluntly:

When Trump appoints a conservative justice to replace Kennedy he will change the ideological make-up of the court for a generation or two.  Conservative evangelicals are rejoicing today.

But what will the witness of the church look like in a generation or two?  How compromised will it be?  And who is asking these questions today?

One person asking such questions is Thabiti Anyabwile, a writer for the Calvinist website The Gospel Coalition and the pastor of an evangelical church in Washington D.C.

He is pro-life on abortion.

Check out Anyabwile’s recent article at The Washington Post: “Overturning Roe v. Wade isn’t worth compromising with Trump, my fellow evangelicals.”  Here is a taste:

And how do we calculate the moral damage and accountability of the harm done to the legitimacy of the presidency itself nearly every day on Twitter and as a Russian collusion investigation continues?

In sheer numbers, more lives are ended by legalized abortion. Christians are correct to focus energy and concern on ending the practice. But in quieter, sometimes less observable ways, the carnage mounts in racial injustice and discrimination.

The potential nomination of a potential pro-life judge does not, in my opinion, alleviate the concerns I have about the racial injustices this same administration seems to multiply each day. What many evangelicals don’t seem to understand is they’re turning blind eyes to their brethren suffering at the hands of this administration for the long-held hope of overturning Roe. I’m for overturning Roe, but I’m also for protecting black and brown lives from racism and the kind of criminalization that swells our prisons and devastates communities or separates families at the borders.

Some Christians appear to have made a Faustian bargain for the mere price of a Supreme Court nominee. The Devil gets the better end of that deal!

Judgment begins at the household of God; that is, judgment begins with Christians. Most evangelical Christians worry about God’s judgment of people who are not Christians. But the Bible calls us to first judge ourselves in light of God’s expectations for Christians. Indifference to other moral issues and forms of suffering call into question one’s understanding of the faith and one’s claim to be a Christian. I can’t tell the difference between true and false Christians, but God surely can. He knows who belongs to Him and who will inherit the kingdom of God. They are the righteous ones whose faith leads them to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and visit those in prison (Matthew 25:35-36).

Read the entire piece here.

Trump Will Deliver for Evangelicals With a Conservative Supreme Court Justice

Donald Trump,Anthony Kennedy

This is why 81% of American evangelicals voted for Donald Trump.  Anthony Kennedy has retired and he will certainly be replaced with a pro-life (on abortion) justice.

The court evangelicals and their followers have traded a president who peddles in misogyny, racism, deceit, and division in exchange for a president who will appoint the right Supreme Court justices.  This is the trade-off.

Commentators today are saying that Trump’s appointment of another conservative justice will be a major part of his legacy.  He will change the make-up of the court for a generation or more.  This is true.  But only time will tell how the witness of evangelicals will be weakened over the next generation or two (or more) because they have hitched their wagons to Donald Trump.

Again, this is the trade-off.

Here is Ruth Graham’s take at Slate:

The announcement on Wednesday afternoon that Justice Anthony Kennedy will retire from the Supreme Court was a vindication for Trump’s evangelical defenders, who had one message for voters in 2016: Close your eyes and think of the Supreme Court. No matter how a Christian might feel about Trump as a man (the extramarital sex, the mockery of the disabled), they said, he would have a chance to radically reshape the makeup of the Supreme Court. This week, that calculation paid off.

It is hard to overstate how relentlessly Trump’s evangelical supporters promoted this message, especially as the campaign staggered toward Election Day. The emergence of the Access Hollywood tapes in October 2016 was widely expected to threaten Trump’s advantage among white evangelicals. A thrice-married casino mogul was one thing, but one whom voters could actually hear bragging about grabbing pussy?

“Hold your nose and go vote,” evangelist Franklin Graham told about 10,500 attendees at a prayer rally in North Carolina in 2016, circling the wagons after the tapes emerged. “You have to decide which one of the two (presidential candidates) that you would trust to appoint justices that are going to protect our religious freedom as Christians.”

Read the rest here.