Christians in the Age of Trump

Donald Trump is unlike any U.S. president before him, a real enigma to many. Some scold Christians for supporting a president who is so un-Christlike. Are Christians wrong to support a man like this?

His Character

Donald Trump has a long history of sexual immorality. A serial husband with several divorces, he has a reputation for womanizing. His integrity as a businessman is questionable, given his habit of ignoring debts and using bankruptcy as a business strategy. His speech is provocative and he is careless with the truth. Combine this with an over-sized ego and Trump is not the kind of person Christians respect. It’s no wonder some think Christians are hypocrites to support Trump. In many ways, Donald Trump is as un-Christian as it’s possible to be.

His Policies

Which is why it is so surprising that many of his policies are shared by conservative evangelical Christians. Donald Trump is probably the most pro-life president ever, who backs up his words with actions. Trump is pro-capitalist. He understands that the best way to help the greatest number of people economically is to unleash the power of free-enterprise. Under his administration, more people are gainfully employed than at any time in American history, with the greatest gains being among minorities. More than merely talking about helping the poor, this president harnesses the energy of capitalism to give people the dignity and rewards of honest labor. He is a friend of religious freedom who has defended Christianity against attacks.

President Trump defends the rule of law. That’s the heart of the immigration debate. Should we ignore laws or enforce them? Congress has the power to change immigration laws, but chooses not to, and then complains about a president who endeavors to enforce laws as they exist. The legislature is responsible to enact laws which the administration is responsible to enforce.  Those who are unwilling to enact change should not oppose those responsible to enforce. We are a nation of laws, and if we flout immigration laws today, what will we ignore tomorrow? How long before the United States descends into anarchy?

And what about Federal Judges? The Senate has confirmed more than one hundred Trump appointed federal jurists committed to interpreting the Constitution and laws as written. The courts have long been misused to circumvent legislation.  President Trump is slowly returning integrity to our courts.

His Behavior

Most Christians find President Trump’s personal behavior offensive. He is mean spirited when attacking opponents. His penchant for name-calling is barely exceeded by a playground full of junior high students. Every day seems to bring new insults and divisive rhetoric. This caustic environment wears upon one’s soul. Please! Can anyone convince this man to tame his tongue? He is his own worst enemy.

His Support

So why do so many Christians support Trump? It’s not because of his likeable personality, nor his ability to inspire the best within us. It’s not because they like the caustic attacks and constant bickering. It’s not because Christians view Trump as a fellow Christian. Most Christians would likely cringe at the thought of having Donald Trump as a member of their church. So why do they support him? Because so many of his policies align with what they believe, and there have been so few presidents able to advance these policies effectively. Trump gets things done.

Consider the alternatives. Every presidential election offers only two candidates who can realistically win. The perfect candidate has never appeared on the ballot and never will. Are Christians so naïve as to support a polite candidate whose agenda is opposite what they believe? Which is better, a bad person who accomplishes good things, or a nice person who promotes bad policies? That, my quizzical friends, is why so many Christian support Trump. It’s not because they like him as a person or admire him as a Christian, but because they believe in much of what he stands for.

Our Responsibility

If you are a Christian, you have a God-given responsibility to pray for Donald Trump (1 Tim. 2:1,2). Pray for his salvation. Pray that he will exercise greater wisdom and self-control. Above all else, pray for revival. What we need is for God to bring us to our knees and give us a sincere desire to honor His Word. Anything less will accomplish little. May God save the United States of America!

Greg Barkman 2018 bio


G. N. Barkman received his BA and MA from BJU and later founded Beacon Baptist Church in Burlington, NC where has pastored since 1973. In addition, Pastor Barkman airs the Beacon Broadcast on twenty radio stations. He and his wife, Marti, have been blessed with four daughters and nine grandchildren.

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I appreciate the effort at balance here. In reference to Trump, that seems pretty rare these days. I'm posting a somewhat different perspective on the topic tomorrow, but it has mainly a theological and political-philosophical focus.

On the details, I agree that some of Trump's policies have been good. But on the whole, they've been a pretty mixed bag. Foreign policy seems to be a muddled mess, and tariffs are not really a "free market capitalism" idea. If he manages to win the trade war w/China, it will be harder to criticize the policy, but historically, tariffs just make life harder for everyone domestically and don't result in success.

... and I still consistently get the impression that though he has put considerable energy into pro-life policy, Trump is lip-syncing. There isn't much belief driving him; rather, it's his contrarian nature, and he has chosen a side in the conflict and is fighting in order to defeat Them wherever he can. This is useful in some ways, but it's all pretty arbitrary. It's all about the fight and "winning," and the actual ideological sides in the conflict are not understood or of interest to him.

Mike Harding's picture

Aaron,

I look forward to your article.  My take on Trump is that he has undergone a philosophical transformation over the last ten years.  He certainly is not a Christian.  I never thought he was. Yet, he chose a strong Christian to be his VP.  If the Dems and the Media succeed in Impeaching Trump, we would get Pence.  The media would hate Pence even more than Trump, if that is possible.  It is hard to judge motives.  I think Trump is sincere in his prolife positions and defense of religious liberty, though I agree with you that he does not understand all the theological reasons for that position.  Trump is very much pro Israel.  Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem was a bold move.  He understands the threat of Islamic Terrorism at home and abroad.  He is a pro-law-enforcement guy, pro-national defense, pro-military, pro-free market.  He is the first president to confront China in a long time.  His tariffs worked on getting Mexico to be cooperative with us on illegal immigration, and he is still negotiating with China which has been a notorious cheat for decades.  I agree with most of the criticisms listed by brother Barkman.  

Pastor Mike Harding

Don Johnson's picture

The irrational hero worship is what bugs me. I get the idea of holding your nose and supporting policies, but the over the top rhetoric along the lines of "the greatest president ever" is exceedingly unseemly.

he's done some good things, I agree, but he is truly clueless on trade policies as Aaron mentions above. I'll look forward to Aaron's piece tomorrow

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

G. N. Barkman's picture

Thanks, Aaron for posting this article.  I knew you were unlikely to agree, but I find some of your objections puzzling.  You seem to base your concerns about Trump's pro-life position entirely on subjective feelings.  The evidence indicates he 'puts his money where his mouth is" and is doing more to advance the pro-life position than any president I can recall.  Likewise with his support of capitalism.  In spite of his unfortunate foreign policies and economic leveraging, the US economy continues to boom and is putting more Americans to work than at any time in history.  I hope you're not letting your personal dislike of Trump blind you to the unusual number of actual accomplishments in the span of two years, and in spite of the heaviest barrage of opposition and criticism that I've ever witnessed for any previous president.

G. N. Barkman

GregH's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Thanks, Aaron for posting this article.  I knew you were unlikely to agree, but I find some of your objections puzzling.  You seem to base your concerns about Trump's pro-life position entirely on subjective feelings.  The evidence indicates he 'puts his money where his mouth is" and is doing more to advance the pro-life position than any president I can recall.  Likewise with his support of capitalism.  In spite of his unfortunate foreign policies and economic leveraging, the US economy continues to boom and is putting more Americans to work than at any time in history.  I hope you're not letting your personal dislike of Trump blind you to the unusual number of actual accomplishments in the span of two years, and in spite of the heaviest barrage of opposition and criticism that I've ever witnessed for any previous president.

I will never have a problem with those that think along the lines of this article--are honest about the dismal person that is Donald Trump but hold their nose because of his policies. The Christians that annoy me are those that defend Trump in every way including his moral failings: Falwell, Graham, and that ilk as well as dishonest Christians like Sarah Sanders, Sekulow and such that not only defend him but do so as an occupation.

Truthfully though, I am unclear on what Trump has accomplished.

* The economy has been in a sharp growth period for 10 years. Trump has not gotten in the way but he is not responsible for much of that. The good news is that in spite of Trump's tariffs and such, the economy is bigger than him at least until this point.

* While he has probably done a lot of executive actions, they can be erased in a second down the road and will be. Where it matters (actually changing the law), he has managed to do very little and there is not much chance that will change based on the hate in DC that he is largely (not completely) responsible for.

* Probably has gotten a lot of judges in place so he gets credit for that.

* I don't share the general theological thoughts here about Israel, so I am not going to give him credit for the embassy. In general, I see that as meaningless and just likely to make things worse in the long run.

Yes, Trump has undoubtedly gotten more opposition from the press than any other president. There is a reason for that: he acts like a 4th grader instead of a President. Those that complain about this always seem to acknowledge that when you act like a fool, you give the press plenty to mock and talk about. 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

I agree with the criticisms of moral issues, hero worship, etc. put forth by the others on this thread.  Those criticisms cannot be stated too strongly, and I do really wonder about Christians who completely ignore all of that and make absurd declarations about Trump being a Christian or as Don also decried, "the best president ever."

I disagree somewhat with the views expressed of Trump's position on the world economy, and tariffs in particular.  While I would agree that tariffs are never a good long-term solution and can result in a lot of short-term pain, and they are a blunt tool at their very best, tariffs and sanctions (with teeth) seem to be the things that actually are making other nations sit up and take notice.  Trump (probably due to his own views on the subject) understands what really motivates other nations to make the decisions they do.  Principle?  Hardly.  Their actions have demonstrated that it's mammon, pure and simple, something Trump clearly also understands.

If there are deals with Iran and North Korea, they will mostly likely be because of sanctions.  If there is a deal with China, it will be because their pain resulting from tariffs will be greater than ours.  They've never had to deal before, because nothing we've offered or threatened has bothered them in the slightest.  South Korea came to a better agreement with the U.S. due to just the threat of tariffs. Even Merkel in Europe offered to reduce their tariffs on American automobiles to be in line with our rates on theirs when threatened with equivalent tariffs.  Nations complain long and loud about the US, but they can't even be motivated to stick to their own agreements (cf. NATO) until their pocketbooks are threatened.  Trump understands this well, and while it makes the U.S. foreign policy look a little like Chicago mobs of the 20's, so far it's shown much more promise than the recent past's "kinder, gentler" alternatives.  Show me a "nicer," more statesman-like, more palatable alternative that works, and I'll back that.  In the absence of such, it's better that the U.S. is not taken advantage of in a way that destroys our economy and makes things hard on U.S. workers.

There are big negatives to using that kind of force, and the U.S. may reap what it has sown if that force is overused, and there is no carrot offered with the stick.  In my view, it still beats where we've been headed by letting everyone take advantage of us forever.  The Marshall plan and things that have followed have been necessary for rebuilding and stabilization, but they were never intended as a long-term national strategy.

Dave Barnhart

GregH's picture

dcbii wrote:

I disagree somewhat with the views of Trumps position on the world economy, and tariffs in particular.  While I would agree that tariffs are never a good long-term solution and can result in a lot of short-term pain, and they are a blunt tool at their very best, tariffs and sanctions seem to be the things that actually are making other nations sit up and take notice.  Trump (probably due to his own views on the subject) understands what really motivates other nations to make the decisions they do.  Principle?  Hardly.  Their actions have demonstrated that it's mammon, pure and simple, something Trump clearly also understands.

If there are deals with Iran and North Korea, they will mostly likely be because of sanctions.  If there is a deal with China, it will be because their pain resulting from tariffs will be greater than ours.  They've never had to deal before, because nothing we've offered or threatened has bothered them in the slightest.  South Korea came to a better agreement with the U.S. due to just the threat of tariffs. Even Merkel in Europe offered to reduce their tariffs on American automobiles to be in line with our rates on theirs when threatened with equivalent tariffs.  Nations complain long and loud about the US, but they can't even be motivated to stick to their own agreements (cf, NATO) until their pocketbooks are threatened.  Trump understands this well, and while it makes the U.S. foreign policy look a little like Chicago mobs of the 20's, so far it's shown much more promise than the recent past's "kinder, gentler" alternatives.  Show me a "nicer," more statesman-like, more palatable alternative that works, and I'll back that.  In the absence of such, it's better that the U.S. is not taken advantage of in a way that destroys our economy and makes things hard on U.S. workers.

There are big negatives to using that kind of force, and the U.S. may reap what they've sown if that force is overused, and there is no carrot offered with the stick.  In my view, it still beats where we've been headed by letting everyone take advantage of us forever.  The Marshall plan and things that have followed have been necessary for rebuilding and stabilization, but they were never intended as a long-term national strategy.

I get what you are saying. I just think being a bully (especially with allies) may likely have short term benefits but generate long term problems. I suspect that the allies (which do tend to freeload) are just telling him what he wants to hear and waiting it out until he leaves.

Don Johnson's picture

I think Trump has accomplished some things with his tariffs, like getting Mexico to clamp down (at least to some extent) on the free flow of migrants north. He is also right to call out other nations for their failure to meet NATO requirements, something my country consistently fails to do. His methods are crude, but they get attention. Other nations have ignored these issues in the past because previous presidents have done nothing to bring any pressure on them.

So I'm not one to dismiss him as a complete buffoon, he is effective in some ways. Time will tell how lasting his efforts are, though, and I don't think his behaviour wins many to his point of view.

The Dems don't have much to offer as an alternative, that's why they have so many clamoring for the nomination. What a circus!

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Dave White's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
The Dems don't have much to offer as an alternative, that's why they have so many clamoring for the nomination. What a circus!

 

David R. Brumbelow's picture

President Trump's judicial nominees making a huge difference for the better:

In past years, it was common for potential judges to receive approval from both of their home state’s senators before their nomination moved forward. That changed during Trump's presidency. In 2018, then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, stopped requiring senators' approval, allowing Trump to get judges on the court who did not have the approval of their senators.

The Ninth Circuit, for instance, was known largely as a liberal jurisdiction until President Trump started placing conservative judges on the bench. Now, the number of conservatives is catching up to the number of liberals on the court, with Trump poised to take advantage of even more recent openings on the bench. The Ninth Circuit includes California, whose senators include Harris... 

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/2020-dems-reverse-course-to-oppose-virt...

David R. Brumbelow

Bert Perry's picture

Is it more significant that Trump has a horrendous sexual history, or that his opponent ran interference for her husband's equally horrendous (probably worse if you ask Juanita Broadrick) sexual history?  Don't forget for a minute who did a LOT on Bill's "bimbo eruptions" team. 

I've got my reservations with Trump in many ways, starting with three wives (plus numerous girlfriends), multiple bankruptcies, two political parties, and having been friends with the recently arrested Jeffrey Epstein.  It continues with his trade policies and failure (like his predecessor) to work with Congress.  That said, he's selected a lot of good judges that never would have been considered by Mrs. Clinton, and he understands that you come to the negotiating table with both a carrot and a stick. Too many of his predecessors have basically given away the farm in these negotiations.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

@Bert One can always find someone worse to compare someone to. It's not anything like a useful standard.

Greg wrote:
Thanks, Aaron for posting this article.  I knew you were unlikely to agree, but I find some of your objections puzzling.  You seem to base your concerns about Trump's pro-life position entirely on subjective feelings.  The evidence indicates he 'puts his money where his mouth is" and is doing more to advance the pro-life position than any president I can recall.  Likewise with his support of capitalism.  In spite of his unfortunate foreign policies and economic leveraging, the US economy continues to boom and is putting more Americans to work than at any time in history.  I hope you're not letting your personal dislike of Trump blind you to the unusual number of actual accomplishments in the span of two years, and in spite of the heaviest barrage of opposition and criticism that I've ever witnessed for any previous president.

My read of Trump's pro-life convictions is an extrapolation from how he behaves generally. I just don't believe he really believes in much of anything other than "winning." Actual opponents are a matter of convenience.

As for my not liking him, true enough that I don't... but how did that happen? He proved himself to be a particular sort of man. And has mostly kept on proving it every day.

Also true that I don't see a particularly special number of accomplishments... especially if stacked against the failures. But I don't deny he's gotten some things done. Tactical wins aren't my primary issue with him.

G. N. Barkman's picture

If Trump accomplished nothing but the 100+ court appointments, his legacy of significant change is guaranteed for years to come.

G. N. Barkman

T Howard's picture

My concern with Trump is that the moral concerns Christians have (e.g. abortion, human sexuality, etc.) will become associated with Donald Trump in a way that when he leaves office, people will reject them out of hand because of their association with Trump.

So, while we may see some short-term gains, Christian morality / righteousness will be tainted with Trump.

We'll see...

G. N. Barkman's picture

Anyone who changes their mind about abortion or human sexuality because of Donald Trump has no convictions to begin with.

G. N. Barkman

GregH's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Anyone who changes their mind about abortion or human sexuality because of Donald Trump has no convictions to begin with.

Do you think it would be legitimate for moderates to watch Falwell and his ilk defend Trump's immorality as they do and decide that Christians are not worthy of a listen when they opine on moral issues such as abortion?

I think it would be very reasonable for them to come to that conclusion.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I don't think "what's reasonable" is really all that relevant. More important is "what's persuasive?" When a political faction claims the moral high ground for decades then nominates and backs someone who is that far from the ideals they've made their identity, the claim to moral high ground loses much of its persuasive power. It becomes so easy for those who want to cry "hypocrisy" to do so because we have clearly failed to stay true to our principles.

Did they cry hypocrisy before Trump? Sure. The difference is that this time they're mostly right. That doesn't make their agenda or political philosophy right, but it makes ours a great deal less persuasive to the folks who are in the middle and/or trying to sort out what they believe.

It doesn't even especially matter if their arguments are valid. I mean, inconsistency/hypocrisy doesn't prove that claims are false. But it's human nature. When people are inclined to be skeptical anyway, glaring inconsistencies make it easy for them to dismiss what someone's saying.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Some who dislike my article object because they disapprove of what appears to be too much political pragmatism.  They believe Christians should apply fundamental principles of righteousness to their selection of candidates, disregarding totally the pragmatic questions of what is realistically possible in our broken world.

And yet, some of these same objectors raise issues of what non-Christians might think about Christians who support an un-Christlike candidate.  In essence, using pragmatic speculations of what people may or may not think to determine what Christians ought to do.  If the fundamental concern is to follow Christian principles of righteousness regardless of political realities, why should we make speculation about what others may think a factor in our decisions?

G. N. Barkman

Mike Harding's picture

It was reported recently that Bush Sr. had a longtime mistress.  Reagan, of course, was divorced/remarried and made his career in Hollywood.  Bush Jr. was an alcoholic in college and somewhat of a womanizer.  FDR had a longtime mistress while president.  JFK had many affairs while president.  Nixon really did perform criminal behavior while president.  No question that Trump was a longtime democrat and a New York playboy for years.  He admits that he was a terrible husband, and he was.  He's not a Christian; not even close.  For those reasons he was not my choice in the primaries. I voted for Cruz.  He will be the Republican nominee in 2020.  There will be two choices.  Are you going to vote for the policies of open borders, abortion on demand, partial birth abortion, post birth infanticide, federal funding of abortion via removal of the Hyde amendment, socialism, economic suicide through the New Green Deal, anti-religious liberty, anti-law enforcement, anti-national defense/military, anti-second amendment, socialized medicine, free everything for illegals, shameless celebration of LGBTQ, the Equality Act, International capitulation to Russia, China, Islamic Terrorism and NK/Iranian nukes, liberal judges, liberal Supreme Court picks? Despite Trump's personality and his past personal sins, I am going to vote for the policies that overall will help our country and preserve our liberties.

Pastor Mike Harding

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Aaron Blumer wrote:

Did they cry hypocrisy before Trump? Sure. The difference is that this time they're mostly right. That doesn't make their agenda or political philosophy right, but it makes ours a great deal less persuasive to the folks who are in the middle and/or trying to sort out what they believe.

Unfortunately, a lot of that charge of hypocrisy comes from the fact that too many true Christians used to buy in to the notion of America being a "Christian nation," and even, to a lesser extent, the existence of a lot of "cultural Christianity" here, and from those, what we professed to desire in a leader.  Once we give up that fiction for good, and get back to the idea that Christians are strangers in this world, more can vote for the national leader based on position rather than some supposed "Christian-ness" of the one being elected.  I get that Clinton may have "appeared" in some ways a lot more Christian on the outside than Trump (not really all that hard), but a closer look at what both supported explains many (most?) of the votes for Trump. Clinton supporters mostly base their charges of hypocrisy on appearances rather than positions, obviously hoping that no one focuses on the substantive differences in position.

Yes, a lot of Christians voted for Trump out of what might seem to be pragmatism, but maybe is just a realization that we aren't voting for a pastor of our church, but the leader of our nation, and while appearances do matter ("man looketh on the outward appearance"), positions actually matter more.  Now as to whether the results of Trump being president are what we would like, that's a more complicated question, though I agree with those who mention the judges/justices that have been confirmed as a result that may have been worth it all by itself.  As I have stated before, while I would prefer Moses or Joshua as a leader, I'll still take Samson any day over one of the Philistines.

Dave Barnhart

Ken S's picture

dcbii wrote:

 get back to the idea that Christians are strangers in this world

Couldn't agree more. Christians in the US have a tendency to tie God and country together in a way that the early church did not.

Bert Perry's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

@Bert One can always find someone worse to compare someone to. It's not anything like a useful standard.

<snip>

 

Sure, but we're not just talking about finding someone worse.  We're talking about putting worse into the #1 position of power and authority on the planet.  You take your risks that #2 scumbag is not just a scumbag, but also an incredible liar about his positions, of course, but then you've got the same risk about #1 scumbag.  A big part of pulling the lever for Trump for me was the realization that the Democrats in the Senate would not remove a Clinton from the White House when he was clearly guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice, while even a lot of Republicans in the Senate seem to hate Trump's guts and might jump on the chance to replace him with Mike Pence if Trump gave them the excuse.

"Might", of course.  Thankfully we've lucked out to a degree and I don't see anything clearly yet that would be impeachable.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Here is a response to this same column when it ran as an op-ed in the Burlington, North Carolina, Daily Times-News this past Sunday.

"Your column, 'Christians in the age of Trump' was the very best column that I have yet read about President Trump.  I agree with you fully...I am a Lutheran.  Martin Luther once stated that he would much prefer having a competent Turk as his emperor than an incompetent Christian."

G. N. Barkman

Joel Shaffer's picture

President Trump defends the rule of law. That’s the heart of the immigration debate. Should we ignore laws or enforce them? Congress has the power to change immigration laws, but chooses not to, and then complains about a president who endeavors to enforce laws as they exist. The legislature is responsible to enact laws which the administration is responsible to enforce.  Those who are unwilling to enact change should not oppose those responsible to enforce. We are a nation of laws, and if we flout immigration laws today, what will we ignore tomorrow? How long before the United States descends into anarchy?

I would argue that when it comes to immigration, President Trump, despite his enforcement of the rule of law in some areas of his immigration policy, has also broken the law to defend the rule of law.  Sadly Trump, politicians (from both the left and right), and Mainstream and Social Media Pundits are lumping illegal immigrants and asylum seekers/refugees all together as one for their political purposes.  The left lump illegal immigrants and asylum seekers together because they want open borders, while the right lump everyone together because they believe the fear narrative that we are, in fact, letting in criminals disguised as asylum seekers. According to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965,  anyone "who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States, whether or not at a designated port of arrival" may apply for asylum. https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/1158    No matter what Trump and his supporters say, asylum seekers have not broken US law.  On a side note, by not allowing asylum seekers to make their case for Asylum, we are also breaking the international treaty of the 1967 United Nations Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees—which the United States has signed, which affirms the 1951 Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees that "refugees shall have free access to the courts of law on the territory of all contracting states" and that they shall enjoy "the same treatment as a national in matters pertaining to access to the courts."  

But when the US Department of Homeland Security turns away asylum-seekers at the US–Mexico border, both at and between official ports-of-entry. they are breaking US law.  When the US Department of Homeland Security requires asylum-seekers at the US–Mexico border to wait in Mexico during the pendency of their asylum claims, they are again breaking US law.  

Again I have no problem securing the borders, whether it be a real wall or a cyber wall in order to respect the rule of law.  But I have serious issues when Trump breaks a current law that's been in place for almost 55 years in the name of "upholding the rule of law."  That is ungodly pragmatism that often times conservative Christians will overlook or justify.  If Trump doesn't like the law, then he needs to get Congress to change it through our legislative process, not through an executive order.   There needs to be a more just and humane way of addressing Asylum Seekers (that can also protect our border) and I don't trust either the left who is running as fast as it can towards an ungodly socialism nor the right, which is running towards an ungodly nationalism, to do it.  

 

G. N. Barkman's picture

Thanks, Joel, for this needed clarification.  I agree with you, since I assume you are correct regarding the details of the law.  I was not aware of some of this prior to your writing.

G. N. Barkman

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Some who dislike my article object because they disapprove of what appears to be too much political pragmatism.  They believe Christians should apply fundamental principles of righteousness to their selection of candidates, disregarding totally the pragmatic questions of what is realistically possible in our broken world.

And yet, some of these same objectors raise issues of what non-Christians might think about Christians who support an un-Christlike candidate.  In essence, using pragmatic speculations of what people may or may not think to determine what Christians ought to do.  If the fundamental concern is to follow Christian principles of righteousness regardless of political realities, why should we make speculation about what others may think a factor in our decisions?

This is an interesting question and got me thinking...

I for one am not arguing that results should be ignored entirely. I guess the way it comes together for me is something like this:

  • how to the short-term results weigh against the long-term results?
  • how does the likelihood of one set of results weigh against the likelihood of other results?
  • how do the results of the alternatives weigh against other (non-result) factors?

Of course, it's possible to frame all the factors as results, since all of them would come after taking action and wouldn't occur otherwise. If one wants to go that route, it all becomes a question of which results matter most. It's probably easier to focus, in this case, on electoral results vs. the results of long-term persuasiveness vs. the inherent morality of an act (having the result of God's pleasure or displeasure... but this is a pretty different kind of result).

As an example of what I mean by inherent morality of an act, we could consider some variation of the many dilemmas used in ethics discussions. All of them pretty unrealistic because they're trying to focus in on where a specific difficulty lies. Say you're kidnapped by an evil madman. He tells you that he's planted a bomb in a hospital nursery and if you don't hit the big red button, the bomb's going to go off. But if you do hit the big red button, another bomb in another nursery will go off--one with half as many babies in it.

Pure utilitarianism would say you've got to hit the big red button. Does Christian ethics say hit the big red button and kill a bunch of babies in order to save a larger number?

I've read fiction with dilemmas like these in the story and what I always want the character to do is say, "You know what, evil madman? I don't have to play your game at all. What seems to be caused by my inaction is actually caused by your action. I don't have anything to do with this and you don't have the power to make it my responsibility." .... But what would I actually do? I'm not sure I'd be that rational at that moment. But my point is that the Christian way is a very different way than "best result right now" or "me being happy right now" or even "me not feeling guilty right now." We have to look at the act of hitting the button and murdering innocents regardless of the relative results.

My view of 2016 was somewhat analogous. The two "electables" on the ticket didn't get there by any action of mine and I did not see myself as responsible in any way for the outcome of my refusing to choose one of them. I did see myself as responsible for who I backed with my individual vote. So I said to both parties: sorry; if you can't do better than this, I'm opting out.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Joel Shaffer wrote:

According to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965,  anyone "who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States, whether or not at a designated port of arrival" may apply for asylum. https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/1158    No matter what Trump and his supporters say, asylum seekers have not broken US law. 

While it's true that the application for asylum itself is not breaking the law, the person may still be guilty of entering the U.S. illegally if they did not come through a port of entry, and any such violation should not, in my opinion, be decriminalized.

Further, the law you quoted does in fact have an exception clause that allows removal to a safe 3rd country (like Mexico for those coming from further south) if they can apply for asylum there.  Also, the Attorney general is permitted to establish a procedure for consideration of the applications filed.  I can't see anything in the law that would disallow "remain in Mexico" while the application is considered (unless Mexico is the source of the persecution -- like e.g. those being sought after by drug cartels).

Finally, there is a clause about applying frivolously, which, it could be argued, applies to many or most of those requesting asylum while actually being economic "refugees."  In short, requesting asylum is not a free pass to "stay in the US and disappear into the woodwork."  Any who arrive at a port of entry, or are brought into the US by government agents should be willing to be tracked, maybe electronically, while their application is in progress if staying in a border facility is too onerous.  The fact that most disappear is the reason that "stay in Mexico" has become a reasonable plan, and as far as I can tell, would be legal for many refugees.

Trump may indeed be overstepping the bounds of the asylum laws, but the U.S. cannot permit its generous asylum policies to be abused in the way they currently are, and the administration should be doing everything it can within the bounds of the law to stop all of the abuse.

Disclaimer: IANAL, but I'm unwilling to just be silent while the asylum laws are interpreted in the way that is the most disadvantageous to the U.S.

Dave Barnhart

Darrell Post's picture

The president is not elected by the direct vote. You could have agonized over your personal vote for months before the election in 2016, and if, in the end, you reluctantly voted for Trump and you voted in California, then your vote counted for absolutely nothing and did absolutely nothing to elect Trump as all of California's electoral votes went to Clinton. Or you could have been a Never-Trump voter from North Carolina who worked hard to convince other NC voters to not vote for Trump. You showed up first in line to cast your vote against Trump, and then you stood there all day passing out anti-Trump literature. Your vote did nothing, as the state of NC gave all of its electoral college votes to Trump. 

What about the reluctant Trump voter from Wisconsin or Michigan? Those who felt guilty over the agonizing choice to vote for Trump in Wisconsin or Michigan--two battleground states that went to Trump by a very narrow margin and helped push him over 270? 

I would suggest these voters, who did impact the outcome of the election in a more meaningful way, still operated under the principle of voting for the lesser of two evils, and did the best they could given the choices.

I have never viewed voting as synonymous to endorsing. I view voting as simply my privilege as a citizen to say that of the two options, I prefer candidate A over candidate B. Unfortunately, there are times when my vote is little more than saying, I am voting to stop candidate B even though candidate A is nearly as bad. 

What pushed Trump over the top in 2016 was his promise to nominate conservative judges. This promise helped to pull in enough of the lesser-of-two-evils voters as it provided a needed distinction between the two candidates. Trump was not as bad as Clinton if he kept that promise. Two and a half years into his first term it is fair to say Trump has kept that promise. 

But I simply do not understand why some view the voting booth as a place for uneasy consciences. Trump could have lied and not kept his promise and the uneasy reluctant Trump voters would feel like fools. But that's the chance you take given the information you have. Trump bears the responsibility for his actions in office, and the voters who put him there do not bear that responsibility. The only responsibility the voters bear is their decision based on the information available on election day. That information included a promise from Trump that he would nominate conservative judges. If he lied about that, then that would be on Trump. But if he was telling the truth (and it appears he did), then it was worth a shot at getting something Clinton would never give us. 

But the voting booth is no place for uneasy consciences. You take the information you have, and vote the best you can, and trust God with the results, knowing that politicians often lie, and sometimes they do what they say they will do. 

 

PhilKnight's picture

Greg, I'm a latecomer to this thread, but thanks for this article.  I agree.

I vociferously opposed Trump during the 2016 primaries and was chagrined at the number of Christians who enthusiastically supported him given the other much better Republican alternatives.  However, once he was nominated, the nature of the choice changed.  I tell people that choosing between Trump and Clinton felt like being asked to choose between having either a load of cow manure or a load of toxic waste dumped into my living room. Although the cow manure stinks up the whole environment, it is at least good for fertilizer; the toxic waste would have destroyed the  environment and literally killed people. I chose the cow manure, and I'm living with the expected stench. The fertilizer has been very useful at the Supreme Court. I don't regret my choice when I consider the alternative.

Philip Knight

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