David Lane, founder of the American Renewal Project, sent an email to over 100,000 pastors on Tuesday, urging them to support Republican frontrunner Donald Trump. Lane and his organization have convinced over 500 pastors to run for local political office this year, but this is his first move in the presidential race.
Lane did not wholeheartedly endorse The Donald, but argued that conservative Christians should back him nonetheless. “The choice facing America is not the lesser of two evils, but who will inflict the least damage to freedom and liberty,” the organizer wrote.
“What and how will Mr. Trump do? I don’t have a clue,” Lane admitted. “But with Hillary we do know, the progressives that she will stack on the Supreme Court alone will set-back America for a century.” He added that “codifying transgender bathrooms right will only be the beginning of nine unelected and unaccountable justices imposing a godless agenda, tearing America apart brick-by-brick.”
Some Christian activists are also backing Trump, despite strong reservations. “I am open to Donald Trump if he is open to working to gain the support of the evangelical community,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
Other Christian leaders have dug their heels in. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, compared Trump and Clinton, emphasizing that both are a rejection of the key conservative idea that “virtue has an important role to play in our culture and our politics.”
Trump and Clinton represent “the very kind of moral and cultural decadence that conservatives have been saying for a long time is the problem,” Moore argued. He attacked “conservatives who were saying in the previous Clinton era that character matters, and rightly so, who now are not willing to say anything when we have this sort of reality television moral sewage coming through all over our culture.”
Lane expressed concern about Moore in a statement to PJ Media, echoing The Donald’s own Twitter attack against the Southern Baptist leader, but with more precision. “Russell Moore is a divider, not a ‘uniter,'” Lane wrote. “Politics is addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division.”
Next Page: Are Christians like Moore really supporting Hillary Clinton behind the scenes?
Lane mentioned a statement Moore made earlier in the primary: “I would say that Ted Cruz is leading the Jerry Falwell wing, Marco Rubio is leading the Billy Graham wing and Trump is leading the Jimmy Swaggart wing” of the evangelical conservative movement. “In his ‘cutesy’ way he manages to slander and alienate,” Lane explained.
What is Russell Moore’s “long game”? Since he was an aide to MS Democrat Gene Taylor in the 90’s, I assume that he’s a stalking horse for Hillary for President, because that’s what his activity is going to produce unless his Board reigns him in.
“Russell Moore doesn’t speak from the ‘Religious Right’, he speaks from the ‘Religious Left’,” Lane declared. He criticized Moore’s article in the New York Times last Friday, where the Southern Baptist leader suggested that “the next Billy Graham probably will speak only Spanish or Arabic or Persian or Mandarin.” In that article, Moore also emphasized how Jesus differed from modern white Americans.
To the comment about “the next Billy Graham,” Lane asked how Moore could possibly predict him at all. “It seems from my distance that Franklin Graham has picked up the mantle of moral leadership in America,” the organizer declared. He called Moore “a perfect representation of how and why America lost its Judeo Christian [sic] heritage and Biblical-based culture.”
To Moore’s statement that “the man on the throne in heaven is a dark-skinned, Aramaic-speaking ‘foreigner’ who is probably not all that impressed by chants of ‘Make America great again,'” Lane quoted Revelation 1:12-16, which describes Jesus on his throne in heaven: “His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire.”
Moore’s insistence on the ethnic view of Jesus “reveals he needs to spend more time in the Word instead of the Green Room getting his make-up done,” Lane alleged. Moore likely would counter that the color in that passage was less a reference to the savior’s ethnic makeup and more a description of his glory — after all, not even the most pasty white person has skin “as white as snow.”
Christianity is exploding in the Global South and in China, hence Moore’s suggestion of a foreign Billy Graham. He may be right, but this style of argument likely does weigh heavily on many American Christians who are tired of being insulted by political correctness and a culture which emphasizes ethnic difference and demonizes “white male privilege.”
Moore’s version of Christian conservatism may go too far in the direction of conciliation with the left, but then again Donald Trump has publicly declared himself an unrepentant sinner and bragged about being a serial philanderer. The Donald’s comments often portray a negative, race-tinted conservatism that may reflect negatively upon the movement.
Lane does not dismiss these concerns, but he emphasized that all Christians are sinful and in need of forgiveness.
All of us have things in our past that we are ashamed of. In my case I was one of the wildest men that ever lived 39 years ago: drugs, wine, women and song. I lived on the bottom of the barrel and liked it. Pigs like to wallow in the mud.
Christ changed my life in 1977, and although I’ve read the Bible and prayed, 7 days a week, since then, periodically, I still do, and think things, that I’d be ashamed to be known publicly. The flesh of the Believer is just as awful as the flesh of the unbeliever.
That said, I’ve prayed for Donald and Melania Trump, by name, 7 days a week, for nearly a year now. Donald Trump, like me, needs Christ.
Next Page: Why anti-Trump Christian conservatives will likely not be persuaded by Lane’s arguments.
Mr. Lane will forgive me — my flesh also is weak — if I do not consider this a reason to back Trump over Hillary. Hillary Clinton’s flesh is also weak (she illegally stored State Department information on a private server in order to hide it from the public and defended her husband against allegations of sexual assault).
Her agenda may be worse, as Lane insists, but if he is correct that we do not know how Trump will behave as president, we have little reason to back him over her. Chances may be better with him, but then again he will be a Republican, supported by conservative Christians, so whatever he does will likely be associated with the believers who backed him. This is a further reason why Christian leaders like Moore choose not to do so — it is not because they’d prefer Clinton but because they’d prefer to support a reliable conservative with a moral past, if they must endorse someone at all.
This is not to say Lane is necessarily wrong to back Trump. The organizer is entirely correct that Clinton would be a worse president for Christian conservatives, and without another viable option, they may be forced to support an unreliable advocate. If Republicans who oppose The Donald are able to present a third option, Moore might support that person. Of course, some will still say that dividing the anti-Clinton will only prop up the likely Democratic nominee.
Both sides have good arguments, and they are likely to argue vehemently. The split in the Christian conservative movement runs deep, but we can always agree on at least one solution: prayer.