Today, over 1,000 members of the Religious Right met with Donald Trump. It was pitched as a ‘conversation’; it was very clearly a campaign rally for the Republican nominee. Over 1,000 members were invited: I was not among them.

One participant observed that Jesus was not mentioned at the event. But, we do know that attendees were asked to pray before and after the event itself. Which is, at least, something. 

Someone sent me the documents that attendees received. Specifically, they were given a prayer guide for the pre-and post-meeting and a more general guide for praying for Trump and other leaders modeled upon the Lord’s Prayer.

The documents provide a bit of insight into the mindset of the organizers of the conference. They are mostly benign, and intentionally aim to be neutral. They have a more therapeutic than political ring to them, which is perhaps surprising for this gathering.

But they are generally oriented toward overcoming any internal objections or hesitations or sense of ‘judgment’ about others and the candidate. “Acknowledge any personal feelings that would keep you from honoring Mr. Trump for his participation,” they exhort the attendees. “Take a moment to offer a blessing for Mr. Trump and his family.” They aim, in this sense, at peace in nearly every sense: an internal peace, and the unity of peace as evangelicals with their Republican standard bearer.

But those who have badly studied what (culture) wars they must fight will be ill-equipped to see the nature of the peace that we need. There’s an Anglican prayer that asks for the wisdom to know the peace we ought preserve, and the false peace we ought relinquish. No peace can be made with Trump without the sharp rebuke of the Gospel with its call to repentance; no “Yes” is evangelical unless it also clearly announces its “No.”

Was such a word offered by any of the attendees? Did they meet their candidate with the diffidence and unconcern that Jesus shows before Pilate? In the earnestness of their supplications, were they moved to renounce the ways of evil and unrighteousness that Trump has himself tacitly and, nay, openly endorsed?

There is a unity which we must seek, and a unity we cannot allow. The capitulation of the Religious Right is now complete. It is a tragically comic ending to a movement that has done far, far more harm than good.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

  • We will see, we will see… Thanks for the inside scoop on this, Matt.

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  • Disqus User

    So, are we going to get a list of all the names of those who turned to Egypt for their defense against the Babylonians? . . .

  • Steph E

    I feel like Bonhoffer also had things to say about churches talking peace with corrupt leaders.

    • MKulnir

      Hitler was not just “a corrupt leader” or in this cas, an egotistical successful entrepreneur. There is no comparison.

  • hoosier_bob

    I still have a hard time understanding why certain evangelicals find Trump objectionable, even as they embrace figures like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee. Yes, the latter are less crass than Trump. But is this just about civility?

  • tb03

    I confess…these political Evangelical writing almost always leave me confused. What do you mean by “ways of evil and unrighteousness”? I have to remind you…the “religious right” was founded to ensure racial segregation is school: (http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/05/29/the_religious_right_formed_around_support_for_segregation_not_against_abortion.html)
    How are RR beliefs oppositional to Trump’s racist, fascist rhetoric? The Religious Right has persevered through pro-life ideals despite prominent civil right’s activists denouncing RR beliefs as fundamentally racist: (9http://www.colorlines.com/articles/black-lives-matter-partners-reproductive-justice-groups-fight-black-women0) What’s more, the RR movement cannibalizes itself through its own “religious freedom” values, yet cannot understand what many see as a painfully obvious hypocrisy. For example, the Robert P George’s of the world do not understand how self defeating his Natural Law arguments are to his cause against same sex marriage: (http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2010/12/the_best_argument_against_gay_marriage.html) Anderson, even you have highlighted this misguided assumption by ignoring the order and cause of creation as outlined in Genesis 1. I’ve even read on this website your misappropriation of religious iconography and morphed God’s “Window to Heaven” into a tool to undermine and humiliate the majority of families in this country because they did not fit your over-sentamentalized ideal : (https://mereorthodoxy.com/special-feature-why-i-am-opposed-to-gay-marriage/) http://www.forwardprogressives.com/five-key-christian-values-and-how-republicans-dont-represent-any-of-them/) Tell me honestly, how did the #neverTrump crowd not earn Trump?

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  • fishdude1

    “But they are generally oriented toward overcoming any internal objections or hesitations or sense of ‘judgment’ about others and the candidate”
    Matthew 7:1-2: Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you

    ‘“Acknowledge any personal feelings that would keep you from honoring Mr. Trump for his participation,” they exhort the attendees.’
    1 Peter 2:17: Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

    ‘“Take a moment to offer a blessing for Mr. Trump and his family.”’
    Romans 12:14: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

    “They aim, in this sense, at peace in nearly every sense.”
    Matthew 5:9: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

    “No peace can be made with Trump without the sharp rebuke of the Gospel.”
    Matthew 19:5: And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”

    Matt, you seem to assume that you cannot bless, honor, or have peace with someone with whom you do not agree. Yet this is exactly the nature of God, who blessed, honored, and made peace with sinners and continues to do so now and through eternity. You don’t have to agree with Trump. You can even vehemently disagree with him and work to thwart him. But even in your opposition, you are called to love him, honor him, and bless him.
    Matthew 5:44-45: But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.

    You also assume that peace is equivalent to unity. Sometimes, peace leads to unity, and sometimes it leads to grief. Jesus demonstrated the latter when he peacefully allowed himself to be tortured and murdered. You are not wrong in saying that there is a peace that must be relinquished, but it sounds like these prayers were aimed at claiming Philippians 4:6-7: “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” You can be at peace and still oppose, still push against, still say, “I don’t accept what you’re doing, and I will seek to stop you, but I won’t destroy you.”

    What would it be like for you to stop and bless Donald Trump in your heart now? Can you?

  • GeeJay

    Matthew I am sure your intentions are good but to compare this meeting to ones Jesus had with Pilot or the pharasees is like comparing apples to oranges. The meeting wasn’t to get Mr Trump to “mend his evil ways” or to try to “get him saved”. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. These people have a concern for our government and I can’t fault them for that because we are never going to find just the right “born again Christian” to run for office that everyone will be happy with. They are “rendering to Ceasar that which is Ceasar’s ” and I for one am believing that Trump is the best Ceasar we can have of the choices we have.

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  • Thomas Parker

    Put not your trust in princes. Why is it that we don’t get that?

  • Wow – such irrational toxicity! Do you ever go after Hellary this way? Or do you only shoot those who are your brethren? What is hidden in your psychosis?