Friday, March 04, 2016

Trump, Falwell and Moore: A Fight for the Soul of Evangelicalism

We haven't even hit Peak Trump yet. That will come when he, as now looks almost inevitable, officially secures the Republican nomination for President. Already though, my Twitter, my Facebook and many real life conversations are dominated by one question. How did it come to this? There are as many explanations as there are commentators, but it's now obvious Trump is winning with people who self-identify as 'evangelical' Christians.

Significant voices in the evangelical world have raised their heads above the parapet to denounce Trump this week. Veteran Republican Peter Wehner took to the pages of the New York Times to rail against his fellow evangelicals' support for Trump, "Set aside the fact that Mr Trump is a compulsive and unrepentant liar," he said. "That he has demonstrated no ability for statecraft or the actual administration of government and has demonstrated much incompetence at business to boot.... the fact that Mr Trump has been more erratic, unprincipled and proudly ignorant when it comes to public policy than perhaps any major presidential candidate in American history. What stuns me is how my fellow evangelicals can rally behind a man whose words and actions are so at odds with the central teachings of our faith."

This theme was taken up by a bona fide evangelical heavyweight Russell Moore in the Washington Post. "The word 'evangelical' has become almost meaningless this year, and in many ways the word itself is at the moment subverting the gospel of Jesus Christ." Strong stuff.

Many of the charges laid at Trump's door make him clearly unsuitable to a number of evangelical leaders – yet he's winning in states where the evangelical vote is strongest.

In the midst of one of the most tumultuous periods in American political history for generations, we find ourselves in a fight for the soul of evangelicalism. Is it already too late to save the word 'evangelical' from the viscious political circus it is now entangled in? Read More

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