I’m not an Evangelical, nor would I classify myself as a Conservative, and certainly not a Republican any longer. But I did spend decades living and working among those communities, and I do care about them. While I cannot envision a day when I will ever give much thought to my rejection of the GOP, I imagine there will always be a complicated affection for the Evangelical community, my spiritual tribe for over thirty years.
It’s no secret that the Evangelical community was courted by the GOP starting in the late 70s. As it got into bed with the Republican Party, a seat at the table of power and influence on policy enamored the faithful and its leaders. Now they were being treated with respect. Or so they thought.
I won’t go into all of the details of what unfolded in the ensuing decades. Those events are well-documented elsewhere. Fast forward to 2016 and witness the ultimate result of this lust for power and influence, namely cultish and unwavering support for Donald Trump. It has been heartbreaking to watch this community that once meant so much to me abandon its values and integrity to hold on to the very thing bound to destroy it.
Pastor and theologian Dr. Ronnie Stevens identifies as a conservative Evangelical Christian. He foresaw the danger of aligning with Donald Trump stating, “The naïve and indefensible and even sinful embrace of Trump by evangelicals has pushed those in [Gen X and younger] much further away from conservative political ideals or biblical Christianity than any atheist or leftist could ever hope to do. I said from the beginning that we conservatives would lose the next generation by making Trump our Tribune and champion and that it wouldn’t end well.”
It has not ended well. I suspect it will get worse before it gets better.
Make no mistake. I am not talking about ridding society of Evangelicalism or the Republican Party. I believe in the concept of loyal opposition. It keeps us honest as a nation. While our two-party system is in dire need of an overhaul and must allow for additional voices, it is vital that we not live in an echo chamber. But Trumpism — something quite distinct from Republicanism — is its own beast.
I had someone tell me the most recent impeachment was theater. While the timing of it is unfortunate, the article of impeachment is, nonetheless, valid. Today, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from GA, a self-proclaimed QAnon follower, says she will introduce articles of impeachment on Biden on January 21. Now that is theater.
Undoubtedly, we need to hold all who threaten our democracy accountable, but among those who support Trumpism are the QAnon crowd and others like them who support inane, fringe worldviews wholly incompatible with anything I have been around in my lifetime. That is much different from those on the left and right who have legitimate policy disagreements on issues.
I don’t denounce Republicanism. I disagree with it.
I don’t denounce Conservatism. I disagree with it.
I don’t denounce Evangelicalism. I disagree with it.
Trumpism? That I do denounce in the most powerful, most certain words I can muster.
The extreme views of each of the major parties have indeed hurt how people perceive them. But Trumpism has been a uniquely damaging movement that has all but destroyed the credibility and integrity of the Republican Party and the Evangelical community, both of which extended unwavering fealty to the campaign. It will take a long time for each of these communities to recover, assuming that’s even possible. It will take courage and humility.
It starts by saying, “We were wrong about Trump.”
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