I understand the tremendous popularity of Donald Trump in America in 2015.
He is a larger than life reality TV star; he is incredibly rich and not beholden to anyone; he is fearless and speaks his mind; he articulates the frustrations and anger of millions of his countrymen; he gives the impression that he can fix our economy and will put an end to illegal immigration; he is not a Washington insider; he could be a strong leader who could face down our global enemies; he can even be winsome and self-effacing at times.
Yes, I do understand all this to the point that, for some weeks, I wondered to myself if I could get behind Trump as a candidate. And the question still remains, if the presidential race was between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, could I cast a vote for Trump? (I could not possibly vote for Hillary Clinton.)
But let’s not deal in hypotheticals now. The immediate question is: Should evangelical Christians support Donald Trump as the Republican candidate? I do not see how we can if the Word of God is to be our guide and if it’s important to us that a candidate have a solid moral compass and a biblically based worldview – and I mean to be our president, not our spiritual leader, since we are electing a president, not a pastor or priest.
The Scriptures teach that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45), and so Trump’s consistent pattern of reckless speech points to deeper issues which could make him unfit for the office of the presidency.
I’m not just talking about his silly attacks on Megyn Kelly (blood), Carly Fiorina (face), and Marco Rubio (sweat) or his more serious attacks on Mexican immigrants (accusing the many of what the few do) and others. I’m talking about his character assault on Ben Carson, comparing him to a child molester who has pathological problems and, most recently, his apparent mocking of the disability of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski.
Worse still, rather than apologizing for his most recent remarks, he claims he is being unfairly attacked for his comments and alleges that he doesn’t even know what Kovaleski looks like. Is he lying?
Notice that he referred to Kovaleski, who suffers from arthrogryposis, which visibly limits flexibility in his arms, as a “nice reporter,” before saying, “Now the poor guy, you’ve got to see this guy,” flailing his arms as he pretended to be Kovaleski.
Is this the man you want to be our president? The warnings in Proverbs are strong: “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 29:20). And, “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” (Proverbs 29:11).
We need a statesman, not an irresponsible flame thrower, and one can be a strong political leader who is cutting and fearless with words – think of Winston Churchill – without making a fool of oneself.
What of Trump’s claim that, “I have no idea who this reporter, Serge Kovalski is, what he looks like or his level of intelligence,” and, “Despite having one of the all-time great memories, I certainly do not remember him”?
If this is true, why did he refer to him as a “nice reporter” and what did he mean when he said, “Now the poor guy, you've got to see this guy”? And did he merely flail his arms mocking someone who, he claimed, couldn’t quite remember things correctly – this was Trump’s defense – or was he making fun of Kovaleski’s arms? (Watch for yourself and you be the judge as to whether he is telling the truth.)
Kovaleski, for his part, states that, “Donald and I were on a first-name basis for years. I’ve interviewed him in his office. I’ve talked to him at press conferences. All in all, I would say around a dozen times, I’ve interacted with him as a reporter while I was at the Daily News.”
How could Trump have forgotten someone with Kovaleski’s condition?
Trump pointed to the large sums he has given to help people with disabilities, and I don’t doubt that he has, nor do I doubt that he cares about the disabled and handicapped.
But what is undeniable is that he is often irresponsible and reckless in his speech, something that could be utterly disastrous for the president of the United States of America. As noted by Jay Ruderman, an advocate for the disabled, “It is unacceptable for a child to mock another child’s disability on the playground, never mind a presidential candidate mocking someone’s disability as part of a national political discourse.”
Yet there’s something that concerns me even more when it comes to evangelicals supporting Donald Trump and that is the issue of pride, the sin that is often at the root of a host of other sins (Isaiah 14:11-15), the sin which God resists (James 4:6), the sin which leads to destruction (Proverbs 16:18).
Trump seems to have little understanding of what it means to ask God for forgiveness, while his very open, unashamed boastfulness is part and parcel of his persona. Trump and pride seem to walk hand in hand, quite comfortably at that.
So, while I do understand why many Americans are behind Donald Trump and while I do believe he could do some things well as president, I cannot understand how evangelicals can back him, especially when we have a number of solid, God-fearing, capable alternatives.
(For my video commentary on this, with the relevant clips from Trump, click here. The ugly comments from Trump supporters are quite telling.)