Reading "A Declaration by American Evangelicals Concerning Donald Trump" reminded me of the truth that what a document doesn't say is often as important as what it does.
A survey of the initial signers reveals that its most famous signers have long been on the Progressive wing of American Protestantism: Tony Campolo, Rich Cizik, Claiborne, Wes Granberg-Michaelson, Rachel Held Evans, Jo Anne Lyon, McLaren, David Neff, Ron Sider (of Evangelicals for Social Action), and Jim Wallis (of Sojourners). A more candid title would have been "A Declaration by American Progressive Evangelicals Concerning Donald Trump."
The letter's specific objections to Trump begin in paragraph 8 by saying "Trump has given voice to a movement that affirms racist elements in white culture-both explicit and implicit." That's undoubtedly true. But it is equally true that Hillary Clinton has given voice to a movement that affirms racist elements in black culture-both explicit and implicit. It objects to Trump's questioning President Obama's fulfilling the Constitutional qualification for the Presidency of being a natural-born American citizen but falsely assumes that questioning that was racist. It overgeneralizes when it says Trump demonizes Mexicans, immigrants, and Muslims, neglecting that he has qualified (albeit not prominently) such statements to apply specifically to criminal elements. It criticizes Trump for not explicitly confronting white supremacists among his supporters, but it fails to criticize Clinton for not explicitly confronting the Black Lives Matter movement among her supporters.
It continues in paragraph 9 by objecting, rightly, to Trump's fueling white xenophobia and religious intolerance but fails to mention Clinton's fueling black reverse racism and her intolerance of orthodox Christianity (when, e.g., she insists that religious objections to abortion on demand right up to the moment before birth will have to change). It condemns Trump's mocking of women and marriage vows but fails to condemn Clinton's attempts to destroy the reputations of women whom her husband sexually abused. It criticizes Trump's materialism while ignoring Clinton's abuse of the non-profit status of the Clinton Foundation and her influence as Secretary of State for her own enrichment.In paragraph 10 it denounces racism as "America's original sin" and its "brazen use to win elections" while ignoring the fact that Democrats/Progressives, including the Clinton campaign, have appealed to black Americans on racial grounds for decades. Of what other American racial group can one confidently predict that over 90% will vote for one party in a Presidential election-not to mention that, however well-intended, Progressive policies have led to the breakdown of African-American families and consequently to the high rates of single parents (mostly women) and absentee fathers that lead to educational and vocational failure that keep black Americans dependent on the state and therefore faithful Democratic voters?
Interestingly, in paragraph 13 the letter says, "We ... will not tolerate the racial, religious, and gender bigotry" that Trump represents. What, precisely, does this mean? The essence of toleration is not to permit the coexistence only of ideas with which one agrees but also of those with which one disagrees. I despise racial, religious, and gender bigotry as contrary to the Biblical doctrine that all human beings are created in the image of God. But to live in a free society is to tolerate even ideas we despise. The letter's language expresses Progressives' determination not to out-argue but to silence those who disagree.
The same paragraph's tepid "Whether we support Mr. Trump's political opponent is not the question here. Hillary Clinton is both supported and distrusted by a variety of Christian voters" is a fig leaf that fails to cover the nakedness of a brazenly biased critique of Trump's real and serious failings wedded to a brazen disregard of Clinton's-chief among which would be her support not only for abortion on demand up to the moment of birth but also of requiring all Americans to contribute to it through tax funding; her abuse of power as Secretary of State through pay-to-play with donors to the Clinton Foundation; her Foundation's exploitation of the Haitian poor by funneling money donated for their relief after the earthquake through the Haiti Reconstruction Fund back into the Foundation itself; her seriously compromising national security by sending classified information over a private email server, actions that would have landed anyone else in prison; her committing perjury in testimony to the FBI and to Congress about the emails; and her religious intolerance, exhibited in her saying, while addressing opposition to abortion, "deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed."
Had the letter been evenhanded, equally criticizing both Trump and Clinton for their respective serious moral failings, it would have been something any evangelical could embrace. As it stands, it is a thinly veiled Progressivist campaign piece for Clinton. No evangelical-or anyone else-should be deceived.