Many Christians have expressed their horror of Donald Trump as some sort of incarnation of Beelzebub, as a wanton fornicator, as an adulterer, as a man without religious principle, as a pro-abortionist, as an exploiter of the poor—the list of his faults, transgressions and vices seems encyclopedic. I would ask the legion of anti-Trump Christians, including many commenters to my recent PJM article written in favor of Trump, to forgive me if I suggest that they have gone over the top in the intensity and scope of their animadversions. And I would ask them to consider three salient facts:
- Jesus advised his followers in Matthew 22:21 to Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. The ballot within the framework of a secular democracy is a thing that belongs to Caesar, not to God. The two should not be confused.
- The American Constitution provides for the separation of Church and State. The ballot in this case is a function of the State, not the Church. The two should not be confused.
- If one believes one has a civic duty to vote—and to vote responsibly—in a national election, it becomes crucial to make a distinction between candidates, their character and their policies, and to consider the likely impact of these factors on the conduct and political nature of an incoming administration. One must also remember that a non-vote, or a protest vote for a splinter candidate —an Evan McMullin or a Jill Stein or a Gary Johnson—will generally translate as a vote for whoever is leading in the polls or appears to enjoy an Electoral College advantage, which seems to be Hillary. Such naivety is nothing but an injurious distraction. The race is between Hillary and Donald and no one else. The two should not be confused.
With respect to this third factor and certainly in the current electoral context, it behooves the believer to weigh carefully the moral, intellectual and political qualities of the major candidates vying for the presidency; and if he or she is dissatisfied in either case, there is no alternative but to vote for the lesser evil, despite the naïve urgings of the overly zealous, earnestly gesturing young man representing the organization “Faith Not Fear” not to do so. This young man is dangerously wrong in assuming that voting for a peripheral candidate will have a “statistically significant impact in this election and the major political parties will take note.” The major parties shrug and continue on their way. Remember Ross Perot?
Of course, I am convinced that Donald Trump, for all his shortcomings, is precisely the chief executive that America needs at this critical juncture in its history, but I do not ask anti-Trump Christians to agree with my convictions. I ask them only—despite their theological sensibilities, which I do not share but which I respect—to reflect upon the consequences of their political decision to act in such a manner as to promote the election of Hillary Clinton. For any impartial assessment of her past record, her character (FBI agents reportedly refer to her as “the antichrist”), and her declared and obvious policies irrefutably condemn her as the greater evil. In comparison with Clinton, Trump appears almost a choirboy.
This is now a question of the political maturity essential to the prosperity, indeed the viability, of the republic. Moreover, in the present cultural moment, Christianity is on the defensive and Islam is on the ascendant, a condition which Hillary will only advance and exacerbate and Donald would seek to reverse. There is no doubt about this. If you care about the future of your country, as well as the future of the Christian faith in your country, you really have no choice but to see to it that Hillary Clinton never sits in the Oval Office.
For if she does, you will have installed the nemesis that both your civic duty and your religious conscience have sought to avoid. And the regret you will then feel will be no consolation.