When Faith and Politics Collide

By Erick Erickson

September 30, 2016 5 min read

Just over a year ago I enrolled in seminary. I had two reasons for doing so. First, I have found myself spending more time than I ever imagined both writing and talking about cultural and faith issues. Second, I had been getting numerous requests for me to preach on Sundays. I turned them all down as I thought it not appropriate to preach without any formal theological training. Naturally, once I enrolled in seminary the invitations to preach ceased.

During my journey through seminary I have had a harder and harder time reconciling my faith and politics. I think our faith should challenge us. If our faith and politics align perfectly, we are most likely worshiping idols. All of this has been brought to a head this election season as I have been forced to reconsider my strong opposition to Donald Trump.

Hillary Clinton would be an appalling president. She would ruin the Supreme Court for a generation. Churches will be increasingly marginalized in their ability to advocate their beliefs. Religious schools and Christian run small businesses would be harassed, if not shut down. The leviathan would be fed with ever-increasing amounts of tax dollars. Even worse, Republicans in Washington would not stand up to her because many of them privately like her.

The disaster that would be a Clinton presidency compels looking again at Trump. Even if he is not perfect, surely he is better than Clinton. I have spent a lot of time considering this issue. But I am forced to conclude that Donald Trump is just as bad as Clinton for different reasons.

While I think Hillary Clinton will do tremendous damage to the country as president, I think Trump's damage would be awful too, while he would do far more damage to the church in the United States than Clinton could ever do. The left, with a president Clinton, may besiege the church from all sides, but Trump would poison its witness from within.

Consider just the basic fundamentals of Christianity. It is taken as a given that when a person proclaims Jesus as Lord that person is a Christian. Hillary Clinton has done that, but Donald Trump, given ample opportunity, has not. In fact, when asked who Jesus is, Trump told columnist Cal Thomas that Jesus is "somebody [he] can think about for security and confidence."

As a Christian dedicated to advancing the Kingdom of God, it becomes mighty difficult to reconcile why one does not believe Clinton is a Christian when she has professed Jesus as both her Lord and her Savior, but one does believe Trump is a Christian without ever professing Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

Additionally, 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 makes it explicitly clear that Christians should have absolutely nothing to do with any person who describes himself as a Christian but "is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler." With the exception of "drunkard," Trump fits each of those. He has repeatedly called himself a Christian, but has just as often said he has never, ever repented or asked God for forgiveness. It is Christianity 101 that a Christian must repent.

Scripture is clear that because Trump calls himself a Christian but does not repent, as a Christian I should have nothing to do with him. Some people say they do not really believe Trump is a Christian so it is no big deal. But then if Trump lies about being a Christian, how can we trust him when it comes to anything, including the Supreme Court? Others say this scriptural admonition applies only to local church discipline, but that claim is rejected by most of the great Catholic and Protestant church leaders of the last 1,500 years.

As a Republican, I would love to vote for my party's nominee. But as I take my faith more and more seriously, I think supporting Donald Trump would harm my personal witness and his election would corrupt and poison the witness of the church in the United States. I could never vote for Hillary Clinton, but Donald Trump does not deserve my vote either.

To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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