I am putting together a series of posts about evangelicalism after Trump with a particular focus on our political future after the nomination of Donald Trump by the Republican party. This first post in the series is from Mere O founder Matthew Lee Anderson. I’ll be putting something up later today. I also hope to get contributions from a few other contributors as well. Anyway, here’s Matt:

Last night’s results mean that Donald Trump will almost certainly win the Republican nomination for the Presidency. In light of these events, I have been asked by a few people to update my previous body of commentary on our current political environment.

And perhaps there is some need to do so.

I will not vote for Donald Trump. I have not, and will not, waver or hesitate in my resolve on this matter. It is a conclusion that is as obvious to me as my own existence: I cannot doubt it, for to do so would be to fundamentally oppose all that I have thought and stood for since I first wrote a public word some 13 odd years ago.

Voting is, and always has been, a moral act. It is an endorsement that we offer to a person—a qualified endorsement, to be sure, bounded by the contingencies of our time and the options before us. But as an endorsement of the relative fitness of this person for the office, it must be earned, and where no options exist to earn it there is no principle that requires our participation through this means. Responsible citizenship requires judgment, and sometimes judgment means abstention. Unless events intervene, that is almost certainly the path I will follow.

My previous essay on the matter of Trump explains my reasons for opposing him, and to it I have nothing more to add. I will simply say that the contrast with another unfit person for office does not help his case in the slightest.

The central principle of my decision is that Donald Trump is palpably unfit for the office of the President, and unworthy of the vote of anyone who dares think that the name of Christ still must have some salience for our public and political life. Since I posted my original essay on the matter, events have done nothing to dissuade me of this stance: if anything, they have further confirmed it.

But this is a harsh principle, and I cannot free myself from the burden of taking seriously its potentially far-reaching consequences. I have in mind two specific potential implications, both of which I raised in my original essay on Trump.

The first is whether I will ever vote for another Vichy Republican who stoops to endorse Trump for the sake of “the Party” or on some hope of maintaining influence within it in the years to come. My current answer to this is that I will not: The captivity of the character of our politicians to their parties is a principle that has no boundaries. If Trump can be rationalized for conservatives, anyone can be. What is needed in such an hour are leaders willing to lose their own political lives that we might have saved the country: the absence of such leaders is, perhaps, the most damning aspect of this tragedy.

The second is whether I will consider voting for Hillary Clinton in such a circumstance, a possibility that I had never in my life considered but which now must be addressed. Whether the nomination of Trump represents a proportionately grave reason to justify a prudential affirmation of Clinton is a question that I strongly suspect I will answer in the negative, but am obligated to consider all the same.

The most definitive and concrete question that I face is whether I will continue to identify as a Republican. And here, I can only say that barring some public act of repudiation by the Party for their complicity in bringing Donald Trump to public life, doing so has become impossible. To be the party’s nominee for the highest office in the land means more than being put forward as a plausible option to the public. The nominee is the party’s central standard-bearer, its de facto leader and representative in all other matters. The party that nominates Trump, and the politicians and pundits who demand that the rank-and-file remain “for the sake of the party” cannot be trusted with responsibilities as serious as governing the country. And any party that cannot so be trusted does not deserve our support.

Practically, this means that I will no longer presumptively vote for the Republican candidate in down-ticket races, as I have sometimes done. Vetting every candidate individually is an enormous task. Alleviating the burden of each citizen doing so is one reason why party affiliation exists: party affiliation has, in the absence of other reasons, functioned as a reason to vote for a candidate. Given the irresponsibility of the party at the national level, this can be true no longer: giving up party affiliation means not voting for candidates that I have not vetted, and when voting for them, doing so as individuals whose policies I support rather than as participants in a party that is alien to me.

It may be suggested that this is too ‘idealistic’, that it does not properly account for the intrinsic importance of party machinery for the sake of enacting policies. That may be true. My rejoinder is that I take parties so seriously that I meet their gross and heinous failures with the only (very limited!) censure I can offer. I do not and have never feared political irrelevance. To repudiate the party is not to embrace either quietism or inaction—as the length of this essay should clearly demonstrate. There are more ways of political action than are dreamt of in our society’s stunted imaginations, and it is incumbent upon those like me to recover them.

Whether the apotheosis of Trump is a betrayal of the Republican party, or a clarification of its inner core, does not matter. That the party has left any semblance of conservative principles outside its gates is clear enough, and damning. Such principles are not only of an economic or legislative type, but encompass the indispensability of virtue and the health of soft social institutions for our common good. It is only within such a hollow core that Trump could possibly arise: The absence may be one that we are all complicit in, but that does not entail that we should vote to perpetuate it.

But what will ‘the evangelicals’ do, those institutions and individuals who have made party politics the vehicle of their moral vision? Here is, perhaps, the only silver lining I can find to this sad affair. The rise of Trump is the death blow to any pretenses, any illusions about where the convictions of those conservative Christians involved in politics at our highest levels lie. We face the prospect of a great untethering of the evangelical witness from the Republican party, a prospect that every Christian—including, and especially, those like me who have claimed the Republican name—should meet with joy and gladness.

The restoration of the evangelical witness in American political life must begin with the expunging of the failed forms of influence-seeking that have gripped us, and with a reinvigoration of the proper theological basis of our activity. The reality that “the party” will now turn its attention—is already turning its attention—to demanding fealty for Donald Trump from those whom he has openly and flagrantly mocked is a trumpet blast loud enough to awake even the Religious Right from the deathly slumbers of its partisan captivity, a captivity it has embraced to its own demise.

There is no clearer choice, no more obvious decision than that between King Jesus and the petty, frail would-be Caesar who Republicans now have foisted upon us. If voting for Donald Trump is required for ‘influence within the party,’ now or in the future, then there is no moral limit, no ground of our principles that conservative Christians will not be asked to give up for the same reason. There can be no compromise: there will be no fault for refusing. If the party allows a wicked man to become its nominee, there is no prudential reason in the universe that can enjoin the consciences of those whose special, assumed vocation to bear witness to Christ’s claim in our public life to vote for him.

Will the Religious Right, once more, offer its soul for the temporal, earthly pottage of political influence? I wish I had more confidence that they would not: But its former standard-bearers have been among the quickest to yield themselves up to Trump’s influence. Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Ben Carson—their easy and glad capitulation should cause serious and sober reflection within the halls of the Religious Right’s central organizations. The failure of their judgment is as damning a critique I know of the theological and political formation on offer in the world of the Religious Right. Whether others will see it as so remains, alas, to be seen.

My rejection of Trump can doubtlessly be interpreted, and thereby dismissed, as ‘virtue signaling,’ a rejection of the lower white class who originally made him a force. No protest I make can dislodge the critique besides weaponizing my own life and friendships as evidence against it: That is what makes the charge peculiarly forceful and attractive to a people unable to reason together.

But beyond noting the thick irony of conservatives rushing to class-consciousness and other sub-rational explanations of political discourse, I will only say that the hidden premise that repudiating Trump entails scorning his voters is not only unargued for, but false. The premise of my rejection is that Trump is a cynical liar. That his supporters are grossly wrong about him, I clearly think. But that they have reasons for the hope, optimism, and support they have invested in him, I also know well.

This is the political wasteland that we evangelicals have helped make. Renewal begins by acknowledging such a fact and reforming the inner lives of our churches and institutions accordingly. No such renewal can begin as long as we lack the nerve to stand on our principles, to insistently and repeatedly point to the intrinsic importance of virtue within our leadership for the advancement of the common good.

Such a stance may seem tedious: it may even appear as a form of resignation, a blithe washing of our hands of the serious matters before us. But the witness of the Gospel exceeds the tyrannical urgency of political action in a democratic society: it expands the horizon of our hope beyond the election in November, and beyond its consequences over the next four and four hundred years. The occasional way of negation, the word of judgment on our political order that abstention signifies must be set within such a deeper, more pervasive affirmation of the goods to which we are headed. It must be a word of gladness: In this abstention we yield up the political order into the hands of the God from whom we had illegitimately, irresponsibly attempted to wrest and control it. If this be resignation, it is so only on the grounds of our accompanying announcement in joy of the goods and glories that our political order cannot reach or touch.

Featured image via: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/5440393641

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.

  • rsr1953

    Donald Trump would definitely not be my pick for a candidate. But the alternative is worse yet…. Hillary or Sanders. My vote for Trump is not so much for Trump but against Hillary (or Sanders). Just my thoughts.

    • rnew05

      I think he addressed that argument above in the article. In fact I think that argument is what most of this article is getting at. We are not helpless, with no other option but to acquiesce to a man with a complete lack of virtue or character. There are not only 2 options, there is more than one alternative. We are accountable to the Lord for bad decisions we make, even if they were made in tough circumstances.

      • Glaivester

        The fact that he absolutely rules out voting for Trump, but leaves open the possibility of voting for Hillary to stop Trump, suggests that he is perfectly willing to be pragmatic and to vote for the lesser of two evils. This suggests to me that the real issue is that he is more comfortable with Hillary’s politics than Trump’s.

        It’s like in his previous post against Cruz and Trump where he suggested that Rubio was a good choice – the fact that he is aghast at anything less than complete candor from Cruz but does not see Rubio’s repeated, severe lying about his position on immigration as a problem whatsoever suggests that his appeals to principle tend to be selectively applied.

  • Ben

    Hear, hear! Our vote matters a bit… but our integrity matters more. As long as my primary citizenship is in heaven, my vote on earth only has value insofar as it assists me in contributing to the spread of the gospel and the kingdom of heaven in the world. I need to be able to explain what I was supporting when I make my vote. For that reason, I’m going to strongly consider Clinton because I think Trump is a legitimate threat to the spread of the gospel and the reputation of Christ, whereas she is not. I don’t have interest in Clinton as a leader, but I do have interest in Trump as not-leader. I’m desperately hoping some thoughtful conservative (Romney, McCain, Graham, Portman… Bush likely won’t because he wants his son to have a political future) decides to throw themselves on their sword by running as a third-party candidate and swiping all the true conservatives like me. But whatever happens, I cannot support someone who is so actively against the clear principles of leadership and governance in Scripture.

    • CPT

      “I think Trump is a legitimate threat to the spread of the gospel and the reputation of Christ, whereas she is not”
      How in the world did you reach that conclusion?

      • Ben

        Clinton does not, in any way, claim to be a representative of the beliefs or principles of Christians. Trump absolutely does. People associate most Christian voters with Republicans, and Trump is the representative of Republicans. There are literally people who claim to be Christians buying into ideas that we should not accept refugees, that Muslims are terrorists who hate America, or that objectification of women is perfectly ok. Trump gives them space to do that and feel ok about it. Trump is exacerbating the narrative that the Church is ok with or even stands FOR those things, and that is a huge stain on the name of Christ. Hilary, on the other hand, can do whatever she wants because nobody in their right minds believes that she cares about or claims to represent Christians in any significant way.

        • CPT

          When does Trump claim to be a representative of Christianity? Cruz, sure, but Trump gets laughed out of the room when he talks about Christianity (Two Corinthians, haha). Both liberals and conservatives are quite aware that he’s not a Christian, so I really don’t think his problems get impugned to Christianity.

  • Welcome to the exile. I left the GOP years ago when it became clear they thought of evangelicals and other social conservatives as the Democrats do the black vote, discarded any notion of cultivating and preserving Permanent Things and abandoned the working class. Though I have never voted Dem for President because of abortion, I have voted for some down ticket, but not since the days of Nunn, Moynihan and Tony Hall.

    Until a party adopts as its platform something along the lines of the Front Porch Republic’s “Place, Limits, Liberty,” I don’t see me ever joining one again.

  • Good writeup, Matt. Agree with it all.

  • Andrew_Z

    Well put. I agree with almost all of that, and am firmly in the #Nevertrump camp. That said, I question the necessity of seeing a vote as a qualified endorsement. Certainly one hopes that one can at least tepidly endorse one of the major candidates, but that won’t be the case here for many of us. Shouldn’t we, in such instances, simply see voting as indicating ordered preference, and not as endorsement? Somebody today likened our presumptive nominees to choosing between Malaria and Ebola. You’ve got to choose Malaria, right? If, in another world much like our own, we find ourselves with an option of voting for Silvio Berlusconi, or Adolph Hitler, isn’t that an easy call (despite how bad Berlusconi is). Perhaps in many states, voting third party or abstaining will be an appropriate protest that won’t change the result, but in close states, it’s worth determining what one’s order of preference (or fears) is, and voting accordingly. In such states, we should think of voting as more about preventing the election of one candidate, than of endorsing either.

    • American pragmatism and utilitarianism lead us by the nose to false binary dichotomies. It’s more like will you worship money or power? Choose. The child of God can not choose either. Since God is King, not voting for either of the two evils allows us to both trust His sovereignty and follow our God-informed conscience.

      • Andrew_Z

        I like pointing out false dichotomies as much as the next guy, but . . . .er . . . . is this actually one? I’m saying if you find yourself in a situation where you may be able to help prevent the election of one, but only by voting for the other, that you ought to make that choice based on ordered preference (that’s the point of the Hitler / Berlusconi hypothetical – both really bad, couldn’t endorse either, wouldn’t want either to win, but still . . . . one is worse than the other, and it wouldn’t be dishonorable to vote for Berlusconi in a tight race in order to prevent Hitler from election). For what it’s worth, I live in a solidly blue state, and my vote won’t matter, so I’ll likely vote write-in or 3rd party.

        Is it that you simply don’t think that voting for one could prevent the other? If so, I agree that may not be the case in many (or any) states, but it’s not an inconceivable situation. Let me know if I’ve misunderstood you. Thanks

        • I’m simply saying sometimes our conscience demands we choose to not choose.

          Popular sovereignty is an illusion. The people are no more sovereign than a king. There is only One who is sovereign.

          Despotism is the natural state of fallen humanity. Power is the greatest temptation, the third Jesus faced. Pharaoh, Emperor, King, Warlord, Dictator, Fuhrer, it doesn’t matter what you call them, it’s our natural state. Our Founders understood that, so they dispersed power to the people and constrained it with a Constitution and federalism.

          Not voting, not participating, in the corruption of that system by helping select the next person to lead us further down the path towards despotism is the only way to dissent until new structures can be built.

          Clinton craves power; Trump craves worship. I believe it would be wrong to vote for either no matter which may be worse.

          • CPT

            Voting is an action. It is not an act of worship.

          • Never implied it was. I think Trump wants to be worshiped.

            We have some warped, in my view, thinking about voting in America. We can neither undo nor remake the world anew by our vote. I, for one, will vote for neither because my conscience tells me participating in either’s election will not honor or glorify God. I will write in or abstain, and vote down-ticket intentionally.

            Have you ever not voted for a local office like Insurance Commissioner because you didn’t know any of the candidates? I have, though I do try to do my research well in advance. If I haven’t done my homework, it’s better for me to leave it blank than vote in ignorance, so how can I do less when I know full well both Hillary and Trump would harm the commonweal?

            Voting is an act of commission. Not voting is an act of omission. I have no duty to act against my conscience. In fact, I have an obligation to omit the act that would violate my conscience. Voting is not a commandment.

  • Disqus User

    Evangelicals, including myself, have for decades violated the repeated warning of Scripture not to put our trust in princes. The consequences are now readily apparent to all. I’ve voted Republican all my life, as did my parents. Both of my grandfathers voted Republican, even for Hoover in 1932, as did their parents. Both of my grandfather’s had grandfathers who served in the Union army and I am on my mother’s side a kinsmen of Abraham Lincoln. I’m done with the GOP. I am not now nor ever have been a Democrat.

    From now on, I will vet the candidates individually, including third party candidates. I’d rather “throw my vote away” than give it to candidates whose views I find repugnant.

    • Run26

      I am with you. I am a conservative Christian and on Sept. 1st when I can change political affiliations I will be a registered Independent. I cannot support a party who puts up Trump as their nominee. I will simply write in a candidate.

  • Mark Patton

    Matt you post a flattering picture of Clinton and an unflattering picture of Trump. Who are you really supporting?. Now to my main point….Trump is the one non globalist establishment candidate that has America’s best interest at heart. The evil we see coming in John’s book in Revelation is the formation of a one world government, economy and religion. We are clearly living in the shadow of the great tribulation. Trump is the one candidate that is not in the tank for the move in that direction. As a washed in the blood follower of Jesus it makes sense to me to support the candidate that is fighting to prevent the globalization of our once great nation. With all due respect millennials do not seem to have any sense of history or what is really taking place in the world today. Christians are literally running for their lives in the middle east. It is easy for you to sit in the comfort of your American home and disparage the one candidate that is not in the tank with the neoconservatives that have created this world chaos in both the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations. Hillary is a puppet of the neocons. Why do you think the elite hate Trump so much? Please,please I would encourage you expand your reading list to include some publications like, PROPHECY UPDATE, Zero Hedge, Freedom Outpost, The collapse of the American Dream, PJ Media, Daily Sheeple, Breitbart and NEO. America is on the verge of collapse. If we have any hope (other than the return of Jesus) of saving America it certainly will not be more of the same.

    • Julie

      The evil in John’s book was in the first century. Jesus came in judgment in 70 AD.

      • WVBORN56

        I guess I missed the 1000 year millennial reign of Jesus and two thirds of the people of earth dying from the wrath of God. Scripture needs to be interpreted literally or you arrive at nonsensical conclusions. The only people I know who believe that Julie are Catholics, cult members and those in the replacement/reform theology camp.

        • Julie

          Scripture “needs” to be interpreted literally? Well, time to gouge out your eye, then.

    • As someone who doesn’t live in a comfy American home, allow me to register my extreme fear that a President Trump’s carelessness could endanger the life of my family and thousands more living abroad.

      • Mark Patton

        With all due respect Matt because of the last 16 years your life is in far more peril than you can imagine. Our military has been decimated, our freedoms greatly diminished and the world far more unstable. In addition, our economy and the dollar that serves as the world reserve currency is a house of cards perched on the precipice of imminent collapse. With or with out Trump we are in a world of hurt. My only solace is as we move nearer to the tribulation my redemption draws nearer. Jesus himself said, “When you begin to see these things take place, look up, your redemption is drawing near” Even so come Lord Jesus!

        • Julie

          Mark, I don’t want to diminish your solace, but the tribulation took place in the first century (Matthew 10:23). Jesus is coming back but not in judgment like he did at the end of the Old Covenant age (Hebrews 8:13) but to complete the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21).

          • Run26

            Thank you Julie for speaking truth. If people only knew the origins of Dispensationalism they would reject it outright. The irony is that it is we preterists who take the Bible for what it says instead of engaging in newspaper exegesis.

        • Caden Laptad

          Another question, because I’m weird like that! Why does America need a strong military or to be concerned with maximizing its economy? America is not Israel, and not all Americans are followers of Jeshua. Do the plans of the Lord not reign supreme, disregarding what any one nation may try to do?

    • Caden Laptad

      Just a question, but why would the coming of the end times scare you or be of concern? I’m pretty pumped for Jesus to come back, and I’m pretty certain God’s not going to slow his plan because of a national election. :)

  • Jacob Conner

    Well, if you can’t vote for Trump for the reasons you mentioned, then you can’t vote for Hillary. Therefore you do not vote correct?

    • koine2002

      That is not true. There are other parties and other candidates. I myself will not be voting, on the presidential ticket, GOP or Democratic. I will most definitely vote. I will also vote for a number of republicans for the house, senate, state, and local election ax. I have not decided for whom I will vote in my presidential vote. I may write in a candidate. I’m investigating that right now. I tend toward libertarian thinking, but neither Gary Johnson (positive rights embracer and pro-choice) or John MacAfee are those I can vote for. I’ll know by November.

      If everyone gave consideration to someone other than the big two we wouldn’t be in this conundrum. We have what we have because we vote to mitigate damage (which is still damaging) instead of advancing our cause.

      • David Wolf

        Johnson does identify as pro-choice, but he supports overturning Roe v Wade, would appoint originalist judges to the Supreme Court who would be in favor of the same, signed a partial birth abortion ban into law as governor of New Mexico (despite setting records for the number of vetoes he used), and believes that ultimately abortion legislation should be left to the states (just as laws about murder and manslaughter are). I’m not uncomfortable with his policy positions on abortion in spite of his personal beliefs. I don’t know what you mean by “positive rights embracer” though.

        • koine2002

          I can live with a pre Roe v. Wade approach.

          As for positive rights. The rights in our constitution are fundamentally a recognition of what are called negative rights. Negative right are those things that the chartered government cannot force one to do nor force one to not do. They are negative in that they are things the government cannot do. Positive rights, which are foreign to the constitution (and libertarian thinking), are those things that government is obligated to provide to someone. For example, while the government is prohibited from restricting my right to free speech it does not have to provide a platform for me.

          Positive rights always end up intruding on negative rights. Recent events on public college campuses are a demand for a positive right (a guarantee that the government will ensure that they are not offended) at the expense of forcing the government to restrict the voicing of certain opinions. A recent example is forcing bakers and photographers to “bake the cake” or “take the photos.” The government is forcing someone to passively endorse a viewpoint that is contrary to their religious veiw-points in order to provide a service And that is where Johnson has embraced positive rights. I refer you to http://www.independentpoliticalreport.com/2016/04/gary-johnson-jewish-bakers-should-be-forced-to-bake-nazi-cakes/ for evidence.

          • David Wolf

            Gotcha. Thanks for clarifying. I agree with you that Johnson’s position is problematic. I see it as on the level of the types of compromises I made when voting for Mitt Romney last time. I understand if it’s a bridge too far for you and others, but I’d love for us #NeverTrumpers to coalesce around one alternative and I think Johnson makes a lot of sense as that alternative.

  • BlueSky90

    First, I am not an “evangelical” in the sociopolitical sense of the word–as I believe the church as a whole has a mandate to be “evangelical” in the classical sense of the word–being messengers of the Gospel to the world. I abhor the sociopolitical, media-influenced use of “evangelical” by conservative churches as an exclusive identifier. I think this needs to be reconsidered.
    Secondly, how can we not look at the influence of the “prosperity Gospel,” or Andrew Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth, upon the lower classes of all races, and fail to recognize the influence of “Christian television” on them and their churches? SuperPACs like “Americans for Prosperity” dig hard into the buzzwords of this movement. It causes people to vote against their own self-interest simply for the sake of their social and financial beliefs. People want to get rich and have power. They want to be a part of the “ruling class” and think their politicians are the answer to this, as well as guns, violence and social supremacy. Not only does Donald Trump tap into this kind of dissatisfaction with the changing social order, but so do the prosperity preachers, Dominionists (like Ted Cruz), and so many others. If you preferred Ted Cruz because he was a conservative Christian, then you bought into the Dominionist political desire for a takeover of American government, and no preacher has ever been able to convince me that that kind of politics is anywhere near Biblical. Not one candidate in this election reflects my worldview, including any of the avowed Christians, because so much of what they said was more about power and money than about any kind of true heart for this country and *all* of its people.

    • Run26

      Calling Cruz a Dominionist is way off base. He is a constitutionalist and made many furious by saying marriage should be left to the states. He had more libertarian leanings than any other candidate. You need to read his legal position on the law and the government.

      • WVBORN56

        His father was clearly a dominionist in addition he was bought and paid for by the Goldman Sachs crowd. There is little doubt his foreign policy team would be led by the neocons and tied at the hip on the economy to the Federal Reserve gang. Now that is real evil!

        • Run26

          Internet rumors do not make facts. This is precisely what is wrong with our political discourse nowadays. Wild accusations with no facts are reported as truth. No real conversations can be had because people are too busy character assassinating each other’s candidates. For the record, Cruz’s foreign policy is hardly neocon. He got blasted for questioning the NSA spying by others in a debate if you recall. His position is decidedly more libertarian in this respect. His position on torture is more in line with liberals than Republicans. I researched this before supporting him because this was important to me. I am not a neocon and neither is Cruz. That statement just does not hold water.

    • tdwoody

      Well Stated

  • Joe Stocker

    As the person who suggested that the disdain directed at Trump supporters (which was clearly displayed in Russell Moore’s Twittter feed and published articles a few weeks back, if not here) could be interpreted as a form of virtue-signalling, I want to add that I never believed for a moment that it undermined or invalidated your principled objection to Trump as a nominee. I get why your loathe Trump – even though I think that he serves some sort of purpose as an “agent of chaos”.

    My concern was that principled objections go hand-in-hand with social biases. It would be terrible if the only people left in Reformed churches are upper middle-class white (and a few Chinese) people. What you have inherited – your intelligence, your educational opportunities, your being raised in stable loving home… and the gospel message – are good things. I know that you would gladly share these with others but… will that actually happen if “gospel Christians” go their separate ways? Will a once-a-month Christians become once-a-week Christians if “gospel Christians” sneer at their drunken Trump supporting habits? Churches are as much social spaces as they are gospel spaces.

    Has America “come apart”? I don’t know, I’m a Brit. Europe seems to be heading that way. Elites are secure in their citadels and appear to be unconcerned about the fate of nation states. The native plebes however are very much concerned about “making their country great again”. Go Trump. Sub-rational I guess.

    • caanon

      Thank you for your comments Joe, I always enjoy reading them.

  • CPT

    Trump’s the worst candidate I can imagine, except for all the others.

    • Andrew

      “fewer dead Arab children”, or simply fewer Arab children killed due American actions? I think it’s at best naive to think that the middle east will become more stable if the US leaves it well alone.

      But it seems to me that half-intervetion is the worst of both worlds. If you’re going to meddle beyond what directly affects you, go all in. If you’re not will to go all-in, don’t start.

      • WVBORN56

        The Middle East was much more stable before Bush and Obama meddled. Libya, Egypt, Iraq and Syria are in complete chaos because of neoconservative foreign policy. That is exactly why we need Trump who is free of their control. It is a death sentence to be a Christian there now! There is practically no difference between democrats and republicans at the national level. Trump has occurred because those republicans paying attention are tired of the betrayal!

        • “The Middle East was much more stable before Bush and Obama meddled.”

          That’s a very short memory.

          I don’t think the Middle East has ever been stable in the post war and oil production era, with all sides becoming armed to fight for their interpretation of their birth rights.

          It might have been stable in the colonial era, but that wasn’t a great way of bringing enforced stability.

          Other than that, you’re right.

          • CPT

            In the 90s it was quite stable. In the 80s, there was the Iran-Iraq War, which the US instigated and aided by helping Saddam Hussein’s regime.

          • Are you sure?

            Gulf War[36]


            Saudi Arabia

            1991 uprisings in Iraq

            Muslim Brotherhood terror campaign

            1994 civil war in Yemen

            Islamic Insurgency in Saudi Arabia
            Saudi Arabia

            Operation Desert Fox (Iraqi no-fly zones)

            1999 Shia uprising in Iraq

            Iraq War

      • CPT

        Between the first Iraq War (and the resulting Kurd and Shiite uprisings that we encouraged and then failed to support), the Second Iraq War, the Libyan War, and the Syrian Civil War, all of which we instigated or contributed heavily to, between 1-2 million people have died. That wouldn’t have happened if we had just stayed out of the region.

  • June Huffman

    That was pathetic!

  • Lektrikwire

    You can’t drain the cesspool if you’re afraid of what it will make you smell like. A sizable portion of the potential electorate fail to vote each cycle for whatever reason — now there’s one more.

  • Andrew

    Let’s say Trump gets elected president…
    – Does this mean the system is broken? Maybe
    – Is it a reasonable response to leave the US? Possibly
    – Should “someone” retrospectively change the rules (or reinterpret them) to give a “better” result? Isn’t that exactly the complaint with respect to liberal handling of the constitution?

    There’s a direct analogy to the GOP candidature. It’s quite legitimate to complain about the party leaders mis-handling the process or to leave because the party has gone in an unpalatable direction, but “someone should cheat to avoid this result” destroys credibility far faster than making the best of a bad situation (Caveat: I’m don’t claim that Matthew is arguing for this, but some certainly have).

    However, observe: the GOP has a mostly democratic election process, and they get a poor candidate (though one can question the wisdom of allowing non-Republicans to vote to nominate the Republican candidate). Approximately 30 years ago, the Democrats changed their process to give the party leaders significant influence over the result, and now it’s basically an oligarchy who still managed to nominate a poor candidate. Every system puts ultimate power into someone’s hands, and this always risks corruption.

    For this reason, I disagree with Matthew’s historical position on vetting. The wise voter vets every candidate (in some cases, the party effectively is the candidate). This makes for difficult decisions when a good candidate is a member of a poor party, or vice versa.

  • eadiegoose

    Anderson means well, but does not understand what just happened. (A) The majority of Republicans (over 60%) voted AGAINST Trump. He took advantage of an enormously divided field (17 candidates). (B) The vast majority of Trump’s wins were in OPEN primaries, where Democrats were courted and voted (60,000 of them in PA) for Trump. The majority of closed (GOP only) primaries were won by Cruz. Unfortunately, a measure put forth by Reagan Republicans in 1976 (open primaries) to allow Reagan Democrats to vote for Reagan has seriously backfired. (C). Trump is a DEMOCRAT, not a Republican. He was able to deceive rednecks and oldsters by the bravado bigotry re: immigration, and that hypnosis was permanent. I happen to know that many of the party leaders have hated what has happened (that’s why so many, e.g., Romney, backed Cruz and anybody but Trump in the last half of the primaries), but the leaders are legally bound by contracts and party rules to stand by the nominee. Expect soft support from non-Trumpsters, and their concentration on state & local races instead of national. The bankruptcy of evangelical pastors was when Falwell, Jefferess and Robertson sold out to Trump. But many more (e.g., Mohler) are in the NeverTrump movement. This article was long on generalizations and erroneous impressions.

    • WVBORN56

      “Bankrupt Pastors and oldsters” I’m glad you have it all figured out at 25. I bet you are fun to live with.

      • eadiegoose

        I’m 66.

        • WVBORN56

          Regardless of age, judging other washed in the blood followers of Jesus as bankrupt or calling them names for supporting Trump is unchristian and politically naive.

          • Peter Burkey

            You’ve got it wrong, following the pattern of this world and letting the world translate the Word for you. The idea of “do not judge” is thoroughly produced by non-believers for the deception of non-serious believers. Judging is not only necessary, but is commanded by Jesus. Jesus tells even his enemies (the Pharisees) to “make a right judgment” in John 7:24 and elsewhere. We all need to make correct judgments every day, and that often requires judgments of people’s actions. It is very important to be “fruit inspectors” of other Christians as well as discerning the truth daily. The judging that we are not to do is that that only God can and will–condemnation to hell.

      • eadiegoose

        And the bankruptcy remark was from the article title.

        • Peter Burkey

          And the bankruptcy remark is accurate.

    • tb03

      In 2012 there were more than a dozen GOP candidates, not much less than this year. Romney basically secured his nomination only in a few days less time than Trump. And let’s not kid ourselves, Trump never had serious competition. He is a pro-business, limited government oversight, strong military, anti-immigration, anti-same sex marriage, pro-life candidate…how is he a democrat? Sorry, but your comment is a series of poor excuses.

      • Peter Burkey

        You have not bothered to study either Trump or his history. Very few of those stances which you name above are accurate of Trump, and he has and can and probably will “be flexable” and change his stances again, and again, and again. Words are cheap.

  • razajac

    It’s a fluff piece, where Anderson gets to pontificate on his presumed high moral ground for paragraph after paragraph, only letting slip his actual moral ground with five little words, furtively inserted only after he’s pretty much said his piece and is getting ready to wash up and go home: Trump is a cynical liar.

    Why doesn’t Anderson open with this keen observation, then spend the next 5 taut paragraphs (tops!) expounding on the genuine moral basis for that observation?

    I think I know why. It’s because I strongly suspect that Anderson voted for a cynical liar twice, in 2000 and 2004. He doesn’t want to have to come face-to-face with his own cynicism.

    I suspect that, to Anderson, the real problem isn’t that Trump is a cynical liar. It’s that he gives lying cynically A BAD NAME.

    Anderson does close with a note of contrition. If you read it carefully, you might almost be able to detect that it could apply as much to him as it ostensibly applies to the “body of Christ” in general. Way, way too little–way, way too late.

    And then after admitting that he and his ilk had their day, and now tasting in his mouth the filth of an all-engulfing lying cynicism that evangelicals fostered for years, he closes with a balm of self-abnegating benediction, extending arms of hope to the aethers.

    Y’know, there is plenty of room between that pigsty and Heaven. It’s called actual, small-‘r’ republicanism.

    Give it a serious thought. You’ll be glad you did.

    • Heh. Yes, you’re on to me now!

      Maybe I didn’t elaborate on that aspect of the argument because….I already did. mereorthodoxy.com/against-donald-trump-evangelicals/

      • razajac

        Thx for yr graciousness… and I’ll go read your earlier piece….

        …and I’m likely to rake you there as well. Right? B^)

  • So much over reaction. If as a Republican you won’t vote for Trump then will you support support Clinton? I know you can’t do that either. But if republican voters are split among multiple candidates on the ballot, then we are ultimately giving it to her. Supporting an Independent is irrelevant because no independent will win, maybe it makes you feel better I guess. However, only one thing really matters that a president does… Supreme Court Appointments. If Obama wasn’t elected then we wouldn’t have gay marriage. If Hillary wins the election, she will likely appoint 2 or even 3 more Justices (not to mention lower courts). The possibility of having Trump appoint Justices with the help of Republican advisors and the senators who confirm is so much more important than anything you feel towards Trump. I don’t prefer Trump over the other republican candidates, but my vote isn’t about Trump, it’s about who I want to appoint Justices to the Supreme Court a Republican or a Demorcat. That’s all that really matters, everything else a President does is temporary, those you mention who are supporting him understand this and have articulated how this is “the issue.” If Hillary Clinton gets to appoint multiple Justices, that will truly: “fundamentally oppose all that I have thought and stood for since I first wrote a public word some 13 odd years ago.” … And for the next 30 years will decide things that actually affect peoples lives forever.

  • Joe Stocker

    There is a ‘class’ element to Trump’s success. It’s not the whole story (it can’t be if he hopes to beat Clinton) but it is a big part of it. Lot’s of good points here…


    “Attempts by people in the wage class to mount any kind of effective challenge to the changes that have gutted their economic prospects and consigned them to a third-rate future have done very little so far. To some extent, that’s a function of the GOP’s sustained effort to lure wage class voters into backing Republican candidates on religious and moral grounds. It’s the mirror image of the ruse that’s been used by the Democratic party on a galaxy of interests on the leftward end of things”

  • crashtx1

    Summary of the two candidates:
    Hillary Clinton: pathological liar, carpetbagger Senator with nothing to show for her time in the Senate, failed Secretary of State that dismisses the death of Marines, has spent her life defending her sexual predator husband, loves abortion.
    Donald Trump: who knows what he believes, statements through the years do not match what he’s saying on the campaign trail, “businessman” with very mixed business results, unfaithful to his wives, most of his money earned by “vice” businesses.
    So nobody gets to point a high moral finger at anybody about who they vote for.

    • RustySkywater

      Ah yes, the old “blame the wife for the sins of her husband” routine.

      • crashtx1

        No blame, no routine, just facts. She has defended his actions and attacked the victims. Not exactly a great defender of women.

        • RustySkywater

          When was it that she approved of his adultery? I’m pretty sure the answer to that is never

          • crashtx1

            I have no idea if she approved of it or now(neither do you), but she did attack the various women that he either had affairs with or attempted to assault.

  • rick_w55

    If I’m reading you correctly, you are aiming your attack at “the Party,” by which I think you mean the organized institution represented by its leadership. You wrote, “The rise of Trump is the death blow to any pretenses, any illusions about where the convictions of those conservative Christians involved in politics at our highest levels lie,” and, “If the party allows a wicked man to become its nominee, . . .” Later you wrote, “I will only say that the hidden premise that repudiating Trump entails scorning his voters is not only unargued for, but false.”

    This I don’t understand. Surely the Party itself is troubled; why they haven’t been able to field candidates I can really get behind in the last two elections, I don’t know. But it wasn’t the Party that has given Trump the nomination. It is the voters you refuse to scorn. This isn’t a “Party” issue; it is an indictment of the thinking (or non-thinking) of voters. There is a blindness here that is shocking. I have asked my Baby Boomer friends several times who see no problem with Trump how they could have vilified Bill Clinton over the Lewinski affair, insisting that a candidate’s private morality matters as much as his public, and I’ve gotten no responses. I’ve asked them what gives them any assurance that Trump will do what he says he will do, given his flip-flopping, his lies, and his obvious lack of knowledge of politics, and no one answers. I’ve asked how they can support a man who is both obviously unqualified for the office knowledge- and experience-wise and who is such a despicable character, and they answer, “He gets things done.” I tell them that lots of people get things done, and that getting things done in business is different from getting things done in politics, and they don’t respond. One may try to lay the responsibility for Trump’s victory at the feet of Tea Party leaders who have fostered such notions as that outsiders have to be better than insiders and that we have to “take our country back” (I didn’t know it was “ours”) along with their other chest-pounding rhetoric, but the final responsibility lies at the feet of the voters.

    As an aside, I do hope that voters who decide to abstain from voting for the next president will not stay home on election day but will vote for other elected officials. We shouldn’t give up the Congress and Senate to the other side (whichever that is for each individual) just because we can’t vote for either presidential candidate.

  • The folks who have voted for Trump are not really Republicans in the sense of having a history of voting Republican. Trump, like Sanders, has brought in a whole new genre of voters. The popularity of their candidacies says more about the failures of establishment governance than about anything else. Each candidate is more of a “maverick” than either Sarah Palin or John McCain. I cannot support Trump but do understand that his popularity has more to do with a rejection of current governmental leaders than an acceptance of Trump.

  • livinright

    If you’ve been around for the last 8 years of Obama and the manifestation of the Democratic philosophy (remember the “rainbow-colored White House), Trump looks pretty good.

  • greg

    This drives home Brad Gregory’s thesis in ??? ?????????? ??????????? that, outside the extant, secure, orthodox, reasoned ‘playground,’ proto, and eventually thorough, modernist chaos would prevail. Trump is the quintessential end game of modernist chaos where incoherence ‘trumps’ reasoned thought.

    The breach Gregory describes is the self-referencing and preeminence of the sole individual, unum hominem.

    Trump is the definitive “I” without “Thou.”

    • CPT

      Speaking of incoherence, this post does a pretty good job at it.

  • Thomas

    So your conservative Christians principles are comfortable with Hillary being president? The moral vision of the political wasteland Hillary and her party will not be contained to the political realm. The wasteland will be extended into every corner of our country.

    Look at the changes to America in the last 8 years. Think of what will come in the next 4 or 8 years. Visualize this in the New America you so willingly endorse because come hell or high water you will stand on your principles while the noose is tightened around your neck.

    Religious groups will lose their tax exempt status if they do not preform marriages for any and all. Freedom of speech will only be free if it is in line with the approved speech of the left. Gun control will begin and if Hillary can manage to get reelected gun confiscation will begin during her second term.

    This country will know no more freedom than Russia or China but you will I am sure feel comfortable because you refused to vote for Trump because it was against your principles to help him get elected. It is so sad that it is not against your principles to Help Hillary get elected. Good for you I sure you will be so proud if Trump is defeated and Hillary becomes your President.

    Oh and if you have to write a book to get your point across you might want to look at the weakness of your point. Excuse me I guess it’s not a book it’s an essay.

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  • Leo Toydog

    You seem to think that a lot of people care a lot about what you think and who you are prepared to vote for. I assure you that this is not the case. Most people have never heard of you.

  • hoosier_bob

    If Ted Cruz had won the nomination, I suspect that this blog would not be running a series of articles that discuss evangelicalism after Cruz. But Cruz is no less dishonest or egotistical than Trump. Cruz simply packaged that dishonesty and egotism in a style that was targeted to attract evangelical voters. So, are evangelicals rejecting Trump merely because he didn’t openly court them? It sure seems that way.

    I’m not suggesting that Christians shouldn’t have some reservations about voting for Trump. But I see no reason why voting for Cruz wouldn’t pose the same reservations? Even so, evangelical leaders almost unanimously lined up behind Cruz.

    • Yup. This blog (and the writer of this post) *definitely* would have lined up behind Cruz without reservation. You are spot on.


      • hoosier_bob

        Your point? I used the phrase “almost unanimously” for that reason. Even so, I stand by my original assertion: If Cruz had won the nomination, I doubt that this blog would be hosting a discussion on evangelicalism after Cruz.

        Besides, I note that those who know Trump generally like the guy and trust him. Despite his foibles, he appears to be a relatively decent human being when the rubber meets the road. By contrast, nearly everyone who has known Cruz hates the guy’s guts and has no trust in him whatsoever. Somehow Trump’s moral deficiencies bother me a lot less than Cruz’s.

        Therefore, the decision of evangelical leaders to line up behind Cruz strikes me as a strong indication of the movement’s moral bankruptcy. I walked away from evangelicalism about a year ago, as I finally concluded that it had devolved into little more than an identity movement for white, middle-class people in conventional professions.

        • My point is simple: You haven’t a shred of evidence for the assertion about this blog. Any evidence you have would go against it. I know of *one* semi-frequent writer for Mere-O that supported Cruz, among the many people that have written for the platform over the years.

          • hoosier_bob

            You’re drawing an unsupported conclusion from my averment. One need not be a Cruz supporter to be comfortable with a Cruz candidacy. My point is not so much to question why some evangelicals may support Cruz, but to question why most evangelicals were even comfortable with him at all. The man is a human reptile if I’ve ever seen one.

          • If I am, it’s no worse than the unsupported conclusion you’ve drawn about the writers here at Mere Orthodoxy. There’s a decades worth of posts on a variety of themes by writers of all kinds to demonstrate that you’re simply wrong.

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  • Brian Myers

    With due respect, Matthew, I’m not at all sure you can define a vote as an endorsement, qualified or otherwise…

  • I’m spending more time in prayer these days. Just finished studying Revelation with BSF. God is refining the church. He will make all of this turn out for good for those who love Him.

  • Lolly

    A vote for Hillary or Bernie is a vote toward Communism, confiscation of guns, Democrats appointed to her Cabinet, possibly some that are Communists, possibility of Communists being appointed over state departments , furtherance of the gay agenda etc.

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