Trump, Christianity, and the Gen-X-Boomer Divide
David French writes about this phenomenon in the context of the 2016 election at National Review, saying that "young Evangelicals are rejecting the GOP nominee, even as their parents give in." He says they're doing what their parents and evangelical leaders raised them to do:
After raising their kids and grandkids to stand for truth in the face of long odds, however, older Evangelicals are failing to practice what they preached. Instead of standing firm in the idea that character matters, and living out the ancient truth that we put our faith in God and not in princes, I’ve seen Christian elders cluck condescendingly and talk about the overriding importance of mid-level bureaucratic appointments and the vital necessity of having a “seat at the table.”
According to French, today's older, Trump-supporting evangelical leaders are making the same error that post-war Protestants made. Facing pressure from a culture that was becoming increasingly secular, they chose to ride the cultural tide. "With liberal elites demanding conformity to progressivism, they made their churches more progressive. And their churches started to die," French writes.
"The churches that thrived refused to bend. The Southern Baptist Convention actually tacked toward orthodoxy, rejecting its former pro-Roe position and reaffirming its commitment to biblical Christianity. It went from a religious also-ran to by far the biggest Protestant denomination on the planet. Meanwhile, many of the former mainline titans are on a glide-path to extinction."
If you want to see how this played out in real life, watch this video about Dr. Albert Mohler's tenure at Southern Seminary (associated with the Southern Baptist Convention), as he and a handful of others courageously battled to realign the school with biblical doctrine and teaching.
Russel Moore, the 45-year-old president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, cut to the heart of the issue in his Erasmus Lecture for First Things last week (watch it here), an address that Rod Dreher called a "eulogy for the Religious Right" and a "generation-defining speech, a line in the sand between the Old Guard and the Next Generation, as well as a line in the sand marking the end of an era and the opening of a new one."
Moore said he understands those who, after weighing this election in the balance, have decided to take a lesser of two evils approach, but explained that the problem with the "religious right" will endure beyond this election because Christian leaders have "waved away some of the most repugnant aspects of immorality."
Some Christian political activist leaders said that those who could not in good conscience stand with either of the major party candidates this year were guilty of “moral preening” and of putting our consciences before the country, sometimes even putting the words “conscience” and “witness” in scare quotes worthy of an Obama Administration solicitor general.
Moore shared how as a young Christian in the South he experienced a deep spiritual crisis that had its root in the politics that entangled itself in the Southern Baptist churches of his childhood. He said the hypocrisy of the "cultural Christianity" he saw around him was sometimes jarring—Christians who preached against profanity while uttering terrible racial slurs against racial minorities and men with compromised sexual ethics who led worship in church. And increasingly, he saw pastors gaining an audience by saying "crazy and buffoonish things" to "stir up the base" and gain attention from the world: prophecies about natural disasters, misrepresentations of Christianity in our nation's history, unhealthy obsessions with predictions about the end times—and all the selling of books and tapes and emergency survival kits that went along with these cottage doomsday industries.
Are you starting to see a pattern here?