The Church’s Mixed Reaction to Trump, and What It Says About Us

You shouldn’t need me to tell you that Donald Trump’s election as US President last November was met with a range of different reactions. While I’m sure some folks were whooping, clapping and patting each other on the back, most people I knew grimaced and hoped for the best. There were thinly-veiled references to the sorry state of America and the whole Western world all over the place. And as usual on the internet, the reaction from the blogosphere was far more heated.

I’ve lost count of how many blog posts I’ve read denouncing Trump, his presidency and his policies. Many of these were little more than A4-length rants about how this orange-skinned man-child supposedly has no place in the White House and how those who supported him are all morally bankrupt. And what got to me the most was, a lot of them were from Christian sources. Although I would never call myself a Trump supporter, I have to believe there are better ways of voicing our opposition than this.

I suppose I can understand why so many Christians reacted like this. Desperate not to be associated with Trump and his supporters (who infamously included most white evangelicals and Catholics in America), we took it upon ourselves to condemn them and point out how little their beliefs synthesised with Scripture. The hope was that the rest of the world, whose negative ideas of Christianity were only being fuelled by what Trump was saying, would take notice and say ‘Hey, maybe it’s not like that at all!’

Of course, anger towards injustice can be a good thing: it shows you have a heart for those being treated unjustly (for more on this, see this post). But I do think we need to be careful how far we go with all this.

There are several messages that it sends when we start to act like this towards our leaders and governments. It suggests we don’t take Jesus’ command to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44) entirely seriously, or that we only think it applies when they aren’t hurting anyone. It suggests that God’s way doesn’t really change the way we think and act (Romans 12:2), since our reactions don’t look much different from anyone else’s. And it suggests that simply showing anger at the unjust actions of our governments and being done with it is a better way of dealing with them than actually getting behind the things they wish to take down. Unfocused fury doesn’t generally lead to change; passionate action does.

I’ll leave you with these thoughts from Ephesians 6:12 – “Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world.” I’m convinced that Satan, just like Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars saga, is thrilled when we let our anger control us, because this takes us one step further away from God. So when we see things like this, instead of allowing our rage to take the wheel, let’s try to maintain the inner strength to stand with those who are weak, yet treat the ruling bodies with the right attitude as well – praying that they will come to recognise their sins and ‘see the light’ eventually.

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