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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pastors & Evangelicals Supporting Trump?

In a September opinion piece for Fox News, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, said that, “no evangelical (Christian) … is expecting (Donald) Trump to lead our nation in a spiritual revival.  But on Saturday, the outspoken Senior Pastor of Dallas’ First Baptist Church stopped just short of endorsing Donald Trump at a rally at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa.

Trump campaign appearances have become semi-regular gigs for Dr. Jeffress, who introduced the candidate at a September rally in Dallas.  That same month, Jeffress was among a group of pastors who traveled to Trump Tower (in New York City) to lay hands on and pray over Trump.  That group included Fort Worth televangelists Kenneth & Gloria Copeland.

Through an enthusiastic introduction for Trump this past Saturday, Dr. Jeffress stressed that he was unable to lend his full endorsement to the candidate because of his position as head of First Baptist Dallas.  The Federal Internal Revenue Service Code prohibits 501(c)(3) non-profit (tax exempt) organizations from working on behalf of political campaigns.  Pastors are also cautioned against lending their support as private citizens to political candidates.

Amongst other things that Jeffress said at Saturday’s rally, he explained that, “Most Americans know we are in a mess, and as they look at Donald Trump, they believe he is the one leader who can reverse the downward death spiral of this nation we love so dearly.”  He went on to say that evangelical (Christians) support Trump because “this nation will not survive another third term of Barack Obama in the form of Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.”

When Trump took the stage, the two men shook hands and hugged each other.  Jeffress called Donald Trump “a great leader, a great visionary, and a great American.”  Trump told the roaring crowd that he had been introduced to Jeffress on television, where the pastor was talking about him.  In Trump’s words, Jeffress is reported to have said that, “He’s (Donald Trump) going to be the best leader, he’s going to be the best for the economy … He’s going to take care of ISIS and he’s gonna take care of the border …”

Donald Trump also related to the crowd that Dr. Jeffress has described him spiritually by saying, “He may not be as pure as we think, but he’s really good, and a great Christian.”  Trump acknowledged that that’s what he’d wanted to hear.  That was the reason, Trump said, that he’d invited Dr. Jeffress to Saturday’s rally in Iowa to introduce him.

In related news, Jerry Falwell, Jr. - who heads the Liberty College where candidate Ted Cruz launched his presidential campaign – has officially endorsed Donald Trump.   With the endorsement of these prominent evangelicals, Fox News reports that as many as 47% of those professing to be evangelical (Christians) are now supporting Donald Trump for President of the U.S.

Folks, I’m really not sure who I support among the numerous presidential candidates campaigning right now.  But it seems disingenuous for people like Dr. Robert Jeffress to say things in support of Trump and go out of his way to support Trump – all the while saying that he is not endorsing Trump in any way.  (He most certainly is.)  Here are some points to consider:

1.     Jeffress may be one of the most prolific anti-gay crusaders in the country.  Trump, on the other hand, says he was taught that marriage is between one man and one woman – but that his views are evolving.  He’s said that he accepts homosexuality as “just the way things are.” 

2.     Jeffress, like most other evangelical Christians, takes a firm stand against abortion.  Trump, on the other hand, is clearly pro-choice.

It would seem that just on these two points alone – homosexuality and abortion – Dr. Jeffress, Pastors Kenneth & Gloria Copeland, and Christian-college leader Jerry Falwell, Jr. would have to compromise their own beliefs in order to voluntarily want to submit themselves to such a man as their government leader.  Can they really endorse or support someone whose views and values are so fundamentally different from what they themselves claim the Bible teaches? 

3.     The Federal Code for the Internal Revenue Service is clear.  Organizations that maintain a tax-exempt status for religious reasons (i.e., churches) are prohibited from engaging in any political activity whatsoever.  They - and by reason of association – their leaders, are not to endorse or campaign for any particular political candidate.  Then too, Romans 13:1 says that Christ-followers are to obey the laws and statutes enacted by the government that rules over us.  (So it would seem that endorsing Trump and campaigning for Trump is not only breaking the law, but is a moral sin.)

Come to think of it, there are a number of Bible verses which come to mind, that would make speaking at political rallies for Donald Trump – or any other particular candidate, supporting any other political candidate that doesn't follow Christian values, as well as speaking ill of incumbent leaders and other candidates, is just all kinds of wrong.  Here are some that come to mind:

1 Timothy 2:1-2 ESV
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people … who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  (Have the campaigners really prayed for and given thanks for the incumbent leaders of whom they are so critical?)

Titus 3:9 ESV
But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.  (Can any Christ-follower really allow himself or herself to get wrapped up in divisive political issues of any sort?)

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 ESV
And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.  (Can any Christ-follower really allow himself or herself to get wrapped up in divisive political issues of any sort?)

1 Peter 2:17 ESV
Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor(Can we speak ill of any incumbent leader or opposing candidate and still be in obedience to this command from God?)

Deuteronomy 17:14-15 ESV
“When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it … You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.  (Can we really, in good conscience endorse a non-Christian?  Isn't that worse than just voting for "the lesser of the evils?")

Proverbs 3:5 ESV
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding(Can we really endorse - or even vote for - the candidate that we think is best?  Isn't that leaning on our own understanding?  Shouldn't we be praying for God's discernment, wisdom, and guidance in regards to whom we should vote for?)

2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  (Isn't it God who will restore America to greatness?)

Leviticus 19:18 ESV
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.  (Is this what we're doing when we speak ill of incumbent leaders and other candidates?)

2 Timothy 2:24-25 ESV
And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth …  (Shouldn’t we look for and vote for a political leader who meets such criteria?)

1 Peter 2:13-17 ESV
Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, ... but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor(Doesn't this mean obeying the law, honoring everyone, and honoring the current president?)

1 Samuel 2:3 ESV
Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.  (How many of our political candidates can meet this criteria?)

Titus 1:6-9 ESV
If anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.  He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.  (How many of our political leaders can meet this criteria?  Shouldn't we try to hold them to these standards?)

1 Timothy 3:1-13 ESV
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? ...  (Can any of our candidates meet this criteria?)

Deuteronomy 1:13 ESV
Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads.   (Isn’t this who we should be voting for?)

Exodus 18:20-26 ESV
 Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. If you do this, God will direct you, …  (Isn't this who we should be voting for?)

Psalm 146.3 ESV
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.  (Dare we think that Trump - or anyone else for that matter - can really make our country great again?  Isn't it God who makes a country great?)

2 Timothy 2:4 ESV
No soldier (of God) gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.  (Isn't it a distraction of a pastor's duties to leave his church and fly across the country to introduce Trump at a political rally?)

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