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Friday, October 14, 2016

Giving And Taking Away Support For Trump.

Trump's presidential campaign has not only caused what some call a "civil war" in the Republican Party, but great turmoil among many evangelicals. Historically speaking, the Republican Party has grown accustomed to taking the evangelical vote for granted. Much of this is due to the abortion issue and the degree to which the Democrats have supported a woman's right to an abortion more than the Republican Party's actual opposition to a woman's right to an elective abortion.

However, there are additional issues that have attracted evangelicals to the Republican Party. They are listed by Wayne Grudem (click here for a bio) as he recants his prior support for Trump, but he does so in an ambiguous way. For though he states that he can no longer 'commend' Trump as a candidate for President, he cannot tell us for whom his vote will toll (click here for his article). But because of the political differences between the Republican and Democratic Parties, it seems that Grudem is still significantly leaning toward voting for the Republican presidential ticket. And it is these other issues that require further scrutiny because of the ties between evangelicalism and conservative politics.

The political issues that are tugging at Grudem's vote despite Trump's repulsive character flaws include:
  • Supreme Court issues like abortion, religious liberty, sexual orientation and gender identification laws
  • The status of our military
  • The threat of 'Islamic terrorism'
  • Our nation's borders
  • 'Supporting Israel'
  • 'Reducing taxes and regulations'
  • Obamacare
  • Energy concerns
  • Racism in our nation
  • Size of government

 Now before addressing points of contention with Grudem, we should note that it is under Obama's Administration that racial tensions have at least surfaced if not increased. I should note here that my view of racial tensions is one of a White male. And because of my race and living location, I could very well be unaware of the state of racial tensions in our nation before Obama took office. And this is a weakness in my ability to analyze the current state of affairs.




I should also note that I share Grudem's opposition to abortion. However, having discussed the issue with several of my non Christian friends, I've come to the conclusion that for as long as we are wrecking the world by waging war and destroying the environment, that abortion is a moot issue. That not enough people who support a woman's right to obtain an elective abortion are even willing to hear what we have to say because we have shown neither enough opposition to our nation's wars nor adequate concern for how our way of life hurts the environment.

Should also note that while ambiguous, Grudem's statement on energy at least suggests that there might exist a concern for the environmental impact our use of energy might have. But here is one of the differences between conservatives and nonconservatives, with nonconservatives consisting of Democrats or political liberals and actual leftists. For nonconservatives state their concerns for how our use of energy can harm the environment in unambiguous terms.


Now Grudem expresses a fear that if religiously conservative Christians do not vote for Republican Party candidates, that these Christians will be giving great political leverage to non Christians who are hostile to Christianity. And what is ironic there is that what religiously conservative Christians call religious liberty or freedom, those from the LGBT community experience as hostility. And this brings us to Grudem's first concern: the picking of Supreme Court justices.
 

What many Evangelicals like Grudem want is a Supreme Court that favors, rather is neutral on, their religiously dictated moral values. The Obergefell decision demonstrated this as clearly as anything else could have. Here we should note that while Grudem is worried about the religious freedom of us religiously conservative Christians, he seemed to have no concern for the religious freedom of those from the LGBT community who were being forced to live under conservative Christian standards. So while religiously conservative Christians call laws that either infringe on the freedoms of the LGBT community or allow Christians to discriminate against that community morally right or religious liberty, they call any push back against such laws hostility. And the only explanation for such a double standard is that they expect to maintain a privileged position in determining the laws of our nation. Any resistance to that privileged position is seen as being part of the homosexual agenda of animosity against the Christian faith rather than resistance against domination over one's own group. In Grudem's world, it is as if one group deserves freedom while the other does not.

Second, while Grudem complains that our military needs to be rebuilt, he seems to ignore advances in weaponry, such as the new classes of ships being built for the Navy and the amount the US spends on defense. For even under Obama's decimated armed forces, the US spends more on the military and defense than the next approximately 9 nations combined. How is it then that we need to rebuild our military? That view depends on the news filter one uses to learn about military status. If one reads only conservative sources, then one gets the impression that the sky is falling for the military. But such is not the case. So Grudem reflects a conservative view that is not all that consistent with the facts on the ground but is a reality as it is perceived in conservative circles.

Grudem also expresses concern over the threat of 'Islaimic terrorism.' However, where is his concern for the causes of such terrorism? Where is his concern for how American foreign policies that rely on interventions and support for dictators as well as for Israels' occupation against the Palestinians? We should note that Grudem favors support for Israel. But one must read that statement in a conservative context to understand what that means. For one can support Israel without supporting the Occupation and Israel's constant confiscation of land and expansion of settlements. 

But conservatives take a tribal approach to supporting Israel and defend that by claiming that Israel is the only democracy in the region. If Grudem had read American-Israeli activist Jeff Halper, he would note that Israel consists of an ethnocracy, not a democracy. An ethnocracy is where democratic processes are used for group based on ethnicity, language, or religion to control government and gain a privileged position in determining the laws of a society.  The reason why one could say that conservatives take a tribal approach to supporting Israel is because they rationalize many of the injustices Israel visits on the Palestinians because it is Israel that is performing the injustices. That is what happens when loyalty to a group becomes too high.

In addition, Grudem expresses a concern with securing our nation's borders. At the same time, like the threat of Islamic terrorism, we should note what Grudem does not seem to be aware of. That a significant number of our problems with immigration start with our foreign policies that cause people to have to leave their own homeland.  In fact, 2 of the top 3 nations from which illegal immigrants come are from nations that have had coups that had American support either during or after the coup. Those nations are Guatemala and Honduras. The third nation, Mexico, was part of NAFTA and NAFTA was responsible for much job volatility depending on the economic sector. Where is Grudem's concern for such foreign policies?

We could go on here, but the point should have been made by now. That Grudem ambiguous withdraw of support for Trump is limited by his ties to conservative politics. And he strongly ties his conservative political convictions to evangelicalism. And his strong ties to conservative politics suggests that Grudem's access to news is well filtered and thus he demonstrates self-imposed limitations on understanding the world around him. That limited view is thus associated with Evangelicalism and brings dishonor to the Gospel. So regardless of his condemnation of Trump, Grudem's political views hurt the reputation of the Gospel.



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