As a student of religion I am unsurprised at polls showing Donald Trump has overwhelming support among American evangelicals. I know the importance of religions in American politics. There really is no separation of church and state, that is a polite fiction.
As a Christian, I am appalled that apparently many American Christians do not think critically before marking their ballot. Their choice seems to be mandated by what they perceive as support for God’s party, not the individual candidate, and nothing can sway them.
I recently took in a “meet and greet” event with one of the people running for the leadership of Canada’s federal Conservative Party. It was being held in my neigbourhood, at my favourite pizza place in fact. So I decided to walk over.
What I heard about policy impressed me. It wasn’t a regurgitation of what has been said in the past, it was a promise to take the party in a new direction. The event was crowded and a little noisy, and there was definite enthusiasm for what was being presented.
Given time constraints, questions were limited to one per person. I refrained from asking about policy (though I did have some unanswered questions in that area). Policy is important, I said, but so are other factors. I want to know not only what the leader plans to do, I want to know who they are. I want to know what drives them as a person, what are the beliefs at the core of their being. Who are they when facing adversity?
I should mention that frequently I have voted for candidates with whom I have had profound disagreements, both in terms of policy and belief. You have to make the best choice from what is available. However, before I cast my vote I want to know exactly what those choices are. There are lines I will not cross. I am looking for leaders with integrity and an understanding of who they are and how they became that person. Tough to find in a politician – they seem to lie to themselves as often as they lie to the voters. We need more people of integrity in politics.
At the meeting I attended, the candidate gave me only a partial answer when I asked about his underlying motivations; didn’t go as deep as I would like. Perhaps I’ll try him again another time. I have an advantage over most voters – I work on Parliament Hill and I know where his office is.
But back to the American experience. There are only two candidates with a realistic opportunity of winning in November and becoming the next American president: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. And Christians apparently are rallying to Trump.
I understand that in the past 50 years the Republican Party has more closely mirrored the principles Christians hold dear. But I don’t see those values reflected in the personal life of campaign of Donald Trump. (We’ll leave Clinton out of it since she doesn’t seem to be garnering the same level of Christian support. I also won’t do an analysis of party platforms from a Biblical perspective. I think if I did both parties would come out poorly.) Voting Republican, no matter who the candidate, seems to be some sort of sacred religious duty for some Christians.
Where is the line that American Christians won’t cross? Where are the fruits of the Spirit in the life of Donald Trump? Republican and Democratic Party candidates alike all claim to be Christians, but shouldn’t there be some evidence?