Amy Gannett is a “millennial” Christian who unashamedly (at least for now) describes herself as an “Evangelical.”
I hold to Evangelical theology. I have attended not one, but two Evangelical schools.
But Gannett’s evangelicalism is running into some bumpy ground. She is she says,
losing faith in Evangelicals.
Her crisis of faith has been triggered by the current election drama in the United States of America, in particular by evangelical leaders for whom she has great respect, and yet who have seen fit to side with Donald Trump in the race for president.
This election has brought people like me, particularly millennials, out of the woodwork. We thought Trump was a bit of a harmless joke at first. With “you’re fired” still ringing in our ears, we thought his presence on the screen would be much shorter lived than his show, The Apprentice. I kept waiting for him to trail off, but he didn’t. In fact, he somehow, mysteriously to me, gained momentum and endorsements. Despite his racial generalizations and telling women they look good on their knees, he only grew in popularity. I moved from disappointed to shocked to disgusted as he garnered the approval of Republican and Evangelical leaders.
Gannett understands the evangelical support for Trump is motivated by a longing to retreat into the halcyon days of the past:
Evangelicals are endorsing Trump by and large because he promises to return our nation to the “good old days.” Trump promises to bring back steel and coal, to return our country to an immigrant-free land [now there’s an ironic promise – just how many citizens of the USA are there who are not directly descended from immigrants?], and, with gusto, he promises to make America the world super power it used to be. His campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” has deeply resonated with leaders across the spectrum.
The enemy for evangelicals is what Gannett describes as “progressivism” (a philosophy based on the idea that advancement in science, technology, economic development, and social organization are vital to improve the human condition). And, herein lies the problem. Gannett states:
I’m here to say that we actually like the progress. We actually like that women are on their way to equal pay, we like that you can’t make a racist comment as a public figure and go unnoticed, and we like that there are more female theologians and teachers and professors than ever before in American history. So when you try to pull us back to the “good old days,” you’ll miss us.
So she concludes with a stirring challenge and a heartfelt plea to evangelical leaders:
you’re losing us, and we don’t want to be lost.
Win us back, and let’s complete the work ahead together.
Amy Gannett articulates the profound pain being experienced by many young people who grew up nurtured in the evangelical wing of the Christian faith in the United States. The palpable disconnect between Donald Trump and the gospel message aging evangelicals purport to promote is wrenching for the younger generation of Christians.
It is hard to imagine what part of Donald Trump evangelical leaders are able to reconcile with Paul’s signs of the presence of God’s Spirit at work in a person’s life. When Paul is looking for a person of credibility, spiritual maturity, and wisdom, he looks for:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22,23)
When young evangelicals look at Donald Trump they see anger and disrespect:
They see a man so careless with his words that he manages to give the impression that violence against his opponent might be a way to bring about her defeat:
(nb: “Second Amendment people” are those who are adamantly opposed to gun control and in support of their position cite the Second Amendment which reads: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”)
They see in Donald Trump, not a leader to look to with respect and hope, but a man who appears to lack any hint of integrity and even a shred of honesty:
This is the man who according to evangelical leader and ethicist Wayne Grudem, should be viewed as a “morally good choice” for Christians to elect as the next president of the United States. http://townhall.com/columnists/waynegrudem/2016/07/28/why-voting-for-donald-trump-is-a-morally-good-choice-n2199564
The election in the United States on 8 November will have a long-lasting and profound impact on the shape of civil society in America for generations to come. But, win or lose, the impact upon the evangelical world of it’s leaders’ support for Donald Trump may be even more profound in years to come.
Thomas S. Kidd, Phd., certainly no fan of Hilary Clinton, has suggested that
this election represents a hinge moment for evangelicals in America.
Kidd goes on to sum up the Republican candidate’s qualifications to be president saying Trump is the
crudest, most uninformed candidate in the history of major presidential contenders. Whether he is actually a misogynist or a racist is unclear (what makes someone an honest-to-goodness “racist”?). But it is clear that he has a long history of misogynistic and racist comments, on which he typically doubles down when challenged.
In its determination to reverse the inexorable move of progress evangelical leaders seem willing to throw their young people overboard in favour of a man who is totally unsuited to take on the responsibilities of public office. The prognosis is bleak for the future of the evangelical movement in light of their rash and incomprehensible commitment to Donald Trump.