I’ve said often that Donald Trump’s followers are keeping me firmly in the #NeverTrump camp as much as the candidate himself. From the endless voices demanding that I “fall in line” to the ones who have called me a traitor for daring to suggest a third-party vote to the evangelical Christians who are willing to abandon their holy principles to trick us into believing that Trump is a great man of the faith, the Donald Trump crowd gets more exhausting and annoying every day.
And now there’s James Patrick Riley. The man who calls himself “a living historian, filmmaker, wine-lover, and would be novelist” is now on record boldly pointing fingers at Max Lucado and other believers in the Never Trump crowd and labeling them Pharisees for expecting a candidate who calls himself a Christian — and courts the votes of Christians — to act a little more, you know, like a Christian.
The author’s beef with Lucado comes because Lucado has said in the past that his vote is private, yet he has criticized Trump. I have a news flash for Mr. Riley: it’s nobody’s business who Max Lucado votes for unless he’s willing to tell them, and he’s not less of a Christian just because he doesn’t support Riley’s guy.
Riley wants to do what so many other have done and paint Trump as this hero of morality and faith. He says of the man who said Planned Parenthood “has done very good work“:
Donald is a blunt customer, but it looks like he does have a heart. When asked about abortion, Trump related a story close to home. He said that he knew of a pregnancy that was going to be terminated. ”That child today,” Donald continued, ”is a total superstar. It is a great great child.”
Riley wants us to think that Trump is such a wonderful character because of the promises he’s made on the campaign trail:
Donald Trump is more righteous than you think. He wants to protect you from Islamic zealots. He wants to protect your right to defend your families with firearms. He even wants to exempt your pulpits from IRS tyranny. He wants to end the death tax, so you can pass on your farms and your family business to your children. He wants to lower your taxes. He wants to protect the lives of unborn children and appoint Constitutional judges.
(It’s never terribly promising when you have to defend someone by calling them “more righteous than you think.”)
Riley then tries to equate the personal behavior that Donald Trump has exhibited over and over again with the notion that all of us wind up spending money with companies whose products and policies we may not all agree with. Needless to say, he’s playing with some pretty flawed logic.
In Riley’s view, we should remember that God used some pretty unsavory men and women in the Bible — and that’s true — but there have been just as many less than stellar folks who thought they were doing the right thing and came crashing to the ground. (And, since I don’t idolize America, I tend to believe that Trump will come closer to the latter than the former.)
I have a bit of advice for Mr. Riley and his ilk: take another look at your bibles. The Pharisees expected the rank-and-file believers to adhere to hundreds of additional regulations that fell outside of Scripture. The Never Trump Christians just think that Donald Trump should live up to the basics of the faith he professes. There’s a big difference between the two.
Is it wrong to expect more out of our leaders — particularly when they claim to be Christians? Of course not. There’s plenty of scriptural advice for good leadership, and we should hold Christians in any kind of leadership to a higher standard. The problem is, Riley would have us dumb down our leadership standards so that his guy fits the bill.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you want to make a case for Trump, more power to you. I’ll listen. But stop trying to make a spiritual case for him, because there simply isn’t one.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.com / Bykofoto