Jonathan Kraut | The Power of Faith in U.S. Politics

The power of faith is once again shaping up to be a key determining factor regarding immediate political sentiment. 

Whether there is Republican incentive in the Senate for an honest look at President Trump’s clearly inappropriate behavior or who will win the 2020 presidential election seemingly are in the hands of evangelicals and faith-oriented voters.

Wikipedia states “evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide, trans-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity which maintains the belief that the essence of the Gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace, solely through faith in Jesus’s atonement. Evangelicals believe in the centrality of the conversion or ‘born again’ experience in receiving salvation, in the authority of the Bible as God’s revelation to humanity, and in spreading the Christian message.”

Evangelicals carried Trump into the White House, if even their support supplied Trump a victory by but a slim margin in several battleground states. It is no secret that the core of Trump’s supporters is comprised of those of faith. But it is a mystery why they continue to cling to him even now. 

The New York Times estimates that about 81% of evangelicals had voted for Trump. Given his frequent and persistent promotion of evangelical and faith-based “traditional values” he won their votes. 

Republicans even in the 2018 election relied on this vital voting segment.

“Three-quarters (75%) of white voters who describe themselves as evangelical or born-again Christians (a group that includes Protestants, Catholics and members of other faiths) voted for Republican House candidates in 2018, according to National Election Pool (NEP) exit poll data” as reported by NBC News.

Does Trump still have their support after he has been in office for three years?

The Atlantic wrote recently, “This fall, 72% said they want their party to keep Trump. Within this group, white evangelicals were among the voters most likely to want Trump on the ballot, at 82%.” 

A Pew Research survey mirrors data from The Atlantic as they have found that 77% of white evangelical Protestants right now approve of and fully support Trump’s performance in office.

So, despite allegations of a quid pro quo with Ukraine backed by uncontested testimony by Trump staffers and Trump-appointed officials in our foreign service, Trump is supported by most evangelicals. 

And so long as Trump has political clout, “the party of faith” it seems chooses to ignore the facts as evangelicals continue as a whole to provide this base of support.

Especially because the GOP platform always includes a strong right to life and general abortion ban as a key element, I completely understand why most evangelicals are registered as and vote as Republicans. 

But on abortion, Trump was for most of his life pro-choice, in 2016 he refused to take a stand, and finally in 2017 he came out pro-life. Political expediency or an instant and unexplained philosophical reversal? 

Without evangelical and faith-based backing, Trump’s political capital, ability to manipulate and dominate his party, and keep his grip on Republican-favoring media, would evaporate. 

One question that confounds me is why Trump continues to have such a strong loyalty among evangelicals. 

Trump’s conduct is anything but Christ-like. Trump does not forgive others, he never asks for forgiveness, salvation, or redemption, nor does he show any sign of humbleness.

I can think of no poorer example of righteous leadership, no president showing less compassion, and no more contrasting example of “turning the other cheek.”

Trump has shown no compassion for the thousands of downtrodden and desperate Christians wishing to emigrate from Central America and uses race as a litmus test for entitlement. Does Trump always speak the truth and abstain from slander and degrading others. Is he open to offering salvation and hope? Is Trump open to collaboration and finding harmonious solutions with the opposition party?

Painting religion as simply us (Christians) versus them (especially Muslims, but including anyone not for Trump, regardless of faith), perpetuating a feigned war on Christmas, and supporting “conservative” values, somehow Trump still manipulates many to garner tremendous backing.

The pending impeachment process is the perfect time for our evangelicals, persons of deep Christian faith, Catholics and Mormons to recognize that misconduct, especially from those holding great power, is still misconduct.

The truth will not set Trump free. The truth will defrock him and possibly lead to his incarceration if those who hold faith dear follow their conscience instead of the leader of their political party. 

Jonathan Kraut directs a private investigations firm, is the CFO private security firm, is the COO of an Acting Conservatory, a published author, and Democratic Party activist. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations.     

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