A common charge leveled at evangelical Christians by the Left today is that they’re willing to sacrifice their most cherished religious principles just to attain political power. And the charge comes at them not only from the Left, but also from certain conservative writers, and even prominent Christian pastors. The underlying idea behind this claim is that President Trump, and by extension the entire Republican Party, is immoral and any support for him must come at the expense of Christian values.
Viewing our current political moment through this prism misses a vital point, however: what other choice do Christians have?
The Party of No Religion
Democrats have been open about their hostility to Christianity. For years, they have been harassing anyone who has different views on the traditional family, calling Christians who want to limit abortion woman-hating bigots, and suing to oblivion anyone who dares support traditional marriage. And as if that wasn’t enough, there are some on the Left calling for churches to be taxed if they believe marriage is between a man and a woman.
Considering the constant assault against their values that Christians face politically, culturally, and socially, it’s no surprise that many of them flock to Trump. Many have no illusions about Trump’s own relative religiosity nor do they hold that Trump is some sort of morally impeccable Messiah. Rather, they see him for what he is: a president who, for either political expediency or his own beliefs, has been a consistent defender of their rights.
Trump, for example, has been a consistent champion of the pro-life movement, and the first president in history to address the largest annual pro-life protest in the nation, the March for Life. He has also made religious freedom a focus of his administration, both globally and domestically, issued a broad executive order requiring executive agencies to “vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom,” and his Department of Justice has been a steady defender of victims in religious liberty cases. At a time when the Left insists that religious liberty is “poisonous, anti-LGBTQ bigotry,” Trump’s victories are refreshing.
Perhaps if we were discussing the Democratic Party of the 1940s or 1950s, this wouldn’t be such a black-and-white issue. In those halcyon days when Democrats weren’t insisting that refusing to bake a gay wedding cake makes you a Nazi, you could have made a case that a Christian could vote for either party. But where are the moderate Democrats now?
No More Pro-Life Democrats
Just consider the pro-life movement. Representative Dan Lipinski of Illinois, one of the last pro-life Democrats in Congress, was defeated by a primary opponent who is a pro-abortion extremist. Lipinski’s loss isn’t just an anecdote: earlier this year, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) claimed that “being pro-choice is an essential part of being a Democrat,” and DNC Chairman Tom Perez has previously said that pro-lifers have no place in the Democratic Party. So much for “safe, legal, and rare.”
Nor is this just an evangelical issue, as Catholics have served as a frequent target for the Left. Remember when the Little Sisters of the Poor were forced to provide abortifacients to employees? Or when Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) grilled a judicial nominee for his membership in the Knights of Columbus? Or when Senator Dianne Feinstein infamously called into question Amy Coney Barrett’s eligibility to be a federal judge because of her devout Catholicism?
All of these offenses are too much to ignore, especially for the Christian community. Yet sadly, some well-wishing Christian pastors have tried appeasing the Left in multiple ways. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, has been a consistent and vocal opponent of Trump, and J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, has warned Christians against becoming “stooges of any political party” (you can safely assume he didn’t mean the Democratic Party).
This attempted appeasement of the Left has even watered down issues that Christians have cared about for decades, such as the fight against abortion. How many times have we heard people say: “How can you be pro-life and support putting immigrants in cages?” Or “how can you be pro-life and not support more gun regulations?” The impact of this “Seamless Garment” philosophy is always the same: watering down the commitment to protect unborn babies.
What other impact can it have? Whenever people make this argument, they’re basically saying: “you can’t be pro-life unless you adopt a leftist viewpoint on every single other socio-economic issue.” Imagine if we turned this argument on its head and asked a Democrat: “How can you call yourself an environmentalist while you still drive a car and eat a meat-based diet? How can we have true environmentalism until we get rid of every single cow on the planet?”
A Leftist World Without Christianity
What’s most tragic about Christian leaders’ naïveté is that they don’t realize the Left is using them as a mere cudgel against Trump.
Suppose Biden wins in November and Trump is out of office: does anyone but a fool actually think the Left will continue caring what the Christian Right thinks? Does Russell Moore think the New York Times will continue publishing him once he’s outlived his usefulness as an anti-Trump tool? Does he really believe they will not call him a hateful, dangerous bigot for believing in Biblical marriage?
The Left rejoices every time it hears a religious leader say that Christians should stay out of politics. But Christians can’t afford to stick their heads in the sand, or we’ll wake up one day and find that the Left doesn’t give a damn how much we condemned Trump, and how much we supported a “Seamless Garment” theology. Christianity’s most central tenets cannot exist in the new world the Left is trying to forge.
Fact is, the Left increasingly is embracing socialism, an openly anti-Christian ideology. Whereas socialism was still and justly stigmatized only 10 years ago, calls for socialism today are becoming increasingly more common. Not only did Karl Marx infamously refer to religion as “the opiate of the masses,” anti-religiosity is built into socialism’s very fabric. It is a materialistic and utopian ideology that insists that, since there is no afterlife, humanity has to make a paradise here and now and damn the consequences. For the results, look no further than Communism’s death toll of 100 million people.
Democrats’ increasing and frightening anti-Christian bigotry, the growing popularity of socialism, and the aggressive attacks on beliefs that Christians have treasured for millennia should all serve as a wakeup call to Christians, both Protestants and Catholics alike. Yes, the Republican Party is not perfect. No political party is, or ever will be. And yes, it’s understandable that many Christians don’t want to be seen as belonging exclusively to one party. But these days, what other choice do we have?