Call it the mystique of Donald Trump, cultural confusion, free-range definitional practice, or something else. Presidential poll analysts tell us Trump is, astonishingly, winning the evangelical Christian vote at the electoral expense of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
Trump’s brash character and sometimes checkered personal history being what it is, his appeal to evangelicals is one of the most mystifying aspects of his voting bloc.
Unless the narrative is foundationally dubious.
“Unfortunately, I think we’ve gotten to the point where it’s a loosely defined evangelical party today,” said Andy Moore of Raleigh, who brought his family to the Ted Cruz campaign event at Raleigh’s Calvary Baptist Church on Tuesday.
In much of America, and the media in particular, there is “not real understanding of what that means with a true walk with Christ” identifying evangelicals as opposed to those merely claiming Christian beliefs, Moore said. “When Trump says ‘I have no need for forgiveness,’ that’s the ultimate red flag from whether or not he represents Christian voters. That’s kind of the core issue.”
Christy Wall of Raleigh, a member of Calvary Baptist Church who attended the Cruz event with her family, admitted Trump has some still-flickering appeal to her, though she is heavily leaning Cruz these days, in large part because of his public profession of Christian faith, admission that he is dependent on God, and he prays daily.
So how, she was asked, does she reconcile Donald Trump’s ascendancy among evangelicals?
“I can’t speak for other people, but I’m just wondering if they think he has the best chance of beating a Democrat,” Wall said. “That’s the only thing I can think of because the Bible that I read, the God that I believe in, certainly doesn’t say that it’s OK to act like a 3-year-old, and have a tantrum, and use that kind of language.”
After the last presidential debate she was talking with friends, “and a lot of us were saying if our children used that kind of language that he used in the debate that we would ground them,” Wall said.
“That’s one of the things that turns me off the most about him is because he’s such a hot head,” she said. “I can’t imagine him using that type of persona whenever he would go to meet with some foreign leader, and use that kind of language, and get his feathers ruffled that easily. It would be embarrassing to a U.S. citizen for him to act that way.”
At a rally in Concord earlier this week Trump made disparaging remarks about Cruz’s faith walk in a repeat performance of a well-worn attack: “He comes in Bible high, Bible high, he puts the Bible down, and then lies to you.”
For his part, Cruz didn’t take the bait to get down in the mud when asked by a reporter during a press briefing prior to his town hall appearance about Trump’s comments.
“Donald says a different entertaining thing every day, and you can usually tell how dismayed he is by his volume, by the level of insults, and typically when he goes down to attacking people’s faith it is a sign that Donald is really, really worried,” Cruz said.
“We’re going to continue not to respond in kind, but instead to focus on issues, and substance, and policy because that is what the voters expect and demand,” Cruz said.
Cruz offered a sober reminder contrasting with Trump’s cult of personality. He said the true power of the nation resides in the people, not in any individual leader. He scoffed at Trump’s campaign antics demanding fealty to him.
“The idea that a candidate running for office wants the people to pledge loyalty to him like subjects to a king, you know we’ve had seven years of a president who thinks he’s an emperor,” Cruz said.
“I’ve got to say the only hand raising I’m interested in is on Jan. 20, 2017, when I hope to raise my right hand, and have my left hand sitting on the Bible when I make a promise, a pledge to every American to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution,” Cruz said.
He views North Carolina and its 72 delegates at stake on Super Tuesday as “tremendously important” to his path to the Republican nomination.
“We have an incredible team here in North Carolina, and I’ll tell you it’s neck and neck,” Cruz said. “North Carolina’s going to have a decisive impact on this primary. We are campaigning hard in North Carolina, and our team on the ground, what we have really seen is we have seen conservatives unite. We have seen evangelicals, we’ve seen libertarians, we’ve seen young people” coalescing in his camp.
Constitutional conservatives and the elites of the Washington establishment are not the only soothsayers warning of disastrous consequences of a Donald Trump presidency. The Christian Post wrote a stinging editorial rebuke http://www.christianpost.com/news/donald-trump-scam-evangelical-voters-back-away-cp-editorial-158813/of the billionaire businessman, and the strange allure he seemingly has over evangelical Christians.
On Feb. 29 the senior editors of the online publication deemed it essential for the sake of the country, and the evangelical community, to commit an act from which it has always refrained: Take a position on a political candidate.
As the most popular evangelical news website in the United States and the world, we feel compelled by our moral responsibility to our readers to make clear that Donald Trump does not represent the interests of evangelicals and would be a dangerous leader for our country.
Trump claims to be a Christian, yet says he has never asked for forgiveness.
While God, in His wondrous creativity, has drawn people to Himself through the saving grace of Jesus Christ in many different ways, there are certain non-negotiable actions needed to become a Christian: One must repent of their sins and follow Christ as Lord and Savior. Trump doesn’t talk this way, even when urged to.
Further, his words and actions do not demonstrate the “fruit of the spirit.”
Trump is a misogynist and philanderer. He demeans women and minorities. His preferred forms of communication are insults, obscenities and untruths. While Christians have been guilty of all of these, we, unlike Trump, acknowledge our sins, ask for forgiveness and seek restitution with the aid of the Holy Spirit and our community of believers.