Why It's OK If Christians Don't Vote for Donald Trump
I've noticed something troubling happening lately. Christians who refuse to support Donald Trump this election—or who even express reluctance about his fitness to be president—have been subjected to increasingly shrill "Never Trump shaming" by fellow Christians.
The shaming goes something like this: If you don't vote for Trump, it will be your fault when Hillary wins and we get liberals on the Supreme Court for the next forty years. Or: If you don't support Trump, Hillary will win and more babies will die, and you'll be to blame. Or my personal favorite: This election could be the last chance we have to pull our nation back from the brink of [fill in the blank with some version of a dystopian future].
I understand that people on all sides of this election are passionate. This has been the most divisive election in my lifetime and barring some divine intervention, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump—the two most unpopular candidates in our nation's history—will be elected president in November. There's plenty of shouting going on, without much listening, and the attacks seem much more personal than in past elections.
I'd like to offer some assurances that things are going to be okay, even if Christians don't vote for Donald Trump. Even if Hillary Clinton wins, it's not going to be the end of the world, and it most certainly won't mean the end of Christianity in America. Neither will America—or the Christian church—be "saved" if Trump wins. The kingdom of God is not dependent on the Christian vote on November 8, so Christians can stop shaming their brothers and sisters who cannot in good conscience vote for, arguably, the most openly immoral, unstable, narcissistic, and mean-spirited self-proclaimed Christian ever to run for president as a Republican.
The seismic shift in the GOP
It's important to first understand that the divisions we're seeing in the Republican Party have been a long time coming and they likely signal the end of the GOP as we've known it. John Ellis wrote here at PJM back in June:
A Donald Trump-helmed Republican Party will cast aside any pretense of caring about social issues that burden conservatives. Trump’s official installation as leader of the GOP in July may very well signal the beginning of social conservatives' exile from the Republican Party and, hence, the national stage.
We're now seeing events play out exactly as he predicted. Trump is not to blame for this, to be sure. He's merely a symptom, or perhaps the result, of a culture that has been in moral and spiritual decline for several generations. The declining influence of faith in American life, the rise of secular humanism and a generation that worships the entertainment culture were bound to result in a tossing aside of the moral strictures of previous generations. Whether rank-and-file Christian Republicans realized it or not, the Supreme Court's convoluted Obergefell decision ordering all states to legalize gay marriage struck a major blow to the GOP, knocking out one half of one leg of the traditional 3-legged stool that tied social conservatives to fiscal and national security conservatives. Suddenly, the already shaky GOP stool began to fracture, as many non-religious Republicans cheerfully accepted the new mandate, throwing the religious liberties of their Christian compatriots under the bus. Hardly anyone batted an eye when LGBTQ rights were more prominent than the rights of the unborn at the Republican National Convention, and no one even seemed to notice when Trump failed to even mention protecting the unborn or marriage at last week's Values Voters Summit. The exit of social issues from the national Republican stage has been quiet but decisive. Christians who are trusting in Trump to promote a socially conservative policy agenda—or to nominate Supreme Court justices who would interpret the Constitution the way the Founders intended—need to understand that their values were ushered out of the GOP's Big Tent last year. It's clear Christians have lost all influence as a voting bloc when the GOP nominee doesn't even bother to pay social issues lip service at a "Values Voters" event.
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