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International – Trump, Christianity and Evangelicals

December 2016

Christians on both sides of the Atlantic are reacting very differently to the news that Donald J. Trump has become president-elect of the US.

In the UK, known critics of Mr Trump, such as Dr Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, expressed caution over the decision and called for prayer. A statement issued by the archbishop’s office read: ‘As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office, my continuing prayers are that the US may find reconciliation after a bitter campaign, and that Mr Trump may be given wisdom, insight and grace as he faces the tasks before him. Together we pray for all the people of the United States’.

Similarly, Dr Dave Landrum, director of advocacy at the Evangelical Alliance, commented: ‘Politics seems to be experiencing an earthquake, and the election of Donald Trump represents the latest aftershock.

‘Following a bruising and often offensive campaign, the US now needs to begin a process of healing. Mr Trump’s victory speech was more gracious and moderate than much of his campaign, but in the months and years ahead it will take more than words to heal the social divisions that were exploited during the campaigning. 

‘Certainly, his attacks on women, the latino community and other minorities are totally unacceptable, and reflect a crisis of social morality and of public leadership. There’s also a need to both moderate and deliver on some of the promises that were made to the electorate. Expectations and trepidation will be equally high’.

Christian votes

But, according to figures from exit polls, the majority of white evangelical Christians in the US voted for Mr Trump and his running-mate, Michael Pence. The Washington Post revealed, ‘Exit polls show white evangelical voters voted in high numbers for Donald Trump’.

While Mr Trump has admitted he has very little knowledge of religion and is ‘mildly religious’, talking about ‘drinking the little wine and eating the little cracker’, according to a report from the Economist, Mr Pence has described himself as ‘Christian, conservative, Republican, in that order’.

This has appealed to Republican-leaning Christians who are pro-life, anti-secularist and anti-liberal. Indeed, even Franklin Graham, son of famous evangelist Dr Billy Graham, said that while he was not espousing any political view he believed God had ‘shown up’.

He told the Washington Post, ‘I could sense going across the country that God was going to do something this year. And I believe that at this election, God showed up’.

Mr Trump’s strident campaign, despite his appalling ‘locker-room talk’ revelations, seems to have gone down well with Christians in America. Not quite so here in the UK. What remains to be seen, is how God uses this new power line-up, for all things are under his control: ‘the authorities that exist are appointed by God’ (Romans 13:1).

But those in authority, like everyone else, will themselves, one day, give personal account to God for their sin, whether ‘locker-room talk’ or corrupt activity of any kind. No wonder Psalm 2:12 exhorts rulers to turn to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour: ‘Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you perish in the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in him’.