Earlier today, The Atlantic published a long piece about Vice President Mike Pence. The subtitle of the article poses a question that is deeply reflective of its many words - “Will the religious right be rewarded for their embrace of Donald Trump?”
The article cites a survey from 2011 stating that 30 percent of white evangelicals would never consider voting for a guy like Trump if scandals erupted in that candidate’s personal life. It then points out how overwhelmingly Christians voted for Trump (81 percent). The article, and many lately, have painted Christians as hypocrites for their votes for Trump as well as their support of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.
Yours truly is a conservative evangelical who voted for Ted Cruz in the primary, but voted for Trump in the general election. I cannot speak for anyone except myself. As for me, I hated the things Trump said in that Access Hollywood tape. I supported Christian leaders like Max Lucado and John Piper for pointing out Trump’s serious flaws of character. I was in agony after leaving the polling place and casting my ballot for him. I personally saw writing in, with polls leaning toward Clinton before the election, as a vote for her.
I voted for Trump for one reason alone.
Both of my sisters-in-law are pregnant right now. One is due this month, the other in March. I fully believe, within their wombs, reside two human beings created in the image of God. I cannot support a candidate, or a political party or movement, that refers to those human beings as tissue whose body parts can be harvested and sold.
You see, the “embracing” of Donald Trump by conservative evangelicals does not mean they support the things he has said or done. They voted for him in spite of those things. They found, as Van Jones pointed out, his comments about women to be “distasteful but not disqualifying.” They voted for Trump because, as one local Indiana commentator put it, they’d rather “pitch a tent near a toxic waste dump than vote for Hillary Clinton.” They voted for him because they were sick of cake bakeries, pizza parlors, and businesses like Chick-Fil-A getting sued or threatened because of their stances on gay marriage. They voted for him because they were dissatisfied with the Republican establishment, which is less popular than Trump himself, and has failed on its biggest promise - repealing Obamacare. Conservative evangelicals, too, are pro-life, a key issue they vote on - while Democrats favor abortion. That singular issue captures so many votes, including mine.
Had the Democrats put up a pro-life candidate, I would’ve gladly cast my ballot for him or her.
As would several Alabamians. Moore is currently up five or six points in his Senate race against Doug Jones. The fact that this race is close at all in a strong red state speaks the truth. If Moore wins, it won’t be because evangelicals embrace sexual assault against children. It will be because, as we saw in this last election, Democrats put forth a candidate that does not embrace very many - if any - conservative principles. How can you expect a significant size of our country's population to vote for your way of thinking if your policies are directly opposed to their values? How can you expect them to vote for you when you insult and demean them?
One of the things we have to stop doing is judging entire groups of people based on a decision they make at the ballot box. A vote is a preference between two imperfect and flawed people. The candidates in last year’s election were two of the worst we’ve ever nominated.
Perhaps we would be better off if we spent more time talking and understanding, rather than accusing and stigmatizing.