by John Ellis
Jerry Garcia once opined that, “choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.” While there is much truth in his statement, it has rightfully earned the pejorative of platitude because it’s incredibly difficult to actually apply. I mean, saying it is easy; doing it, not so much.
For one thing, and specifically from a human standpoint, what constitutes “evil” is often a moving target. For example, disagreeing with Obamacare doesn’t require tagging the health care plan as evil. Likewise, being committed to free market theories does not mean that the individual hates poor people. But, since the 2016 Presidential Election is barreling straight towards a Donald Trump shaped sink-hole, I’m scared that many in our country have skipped the quandary articulated by Garcia and have, instead, decided to willfully dive head-first into a black hole of obvious and actual evil.
For me, one of the most disturbing aspects of the possible ascension of Trump to the Presidency is that many who are considered part of my tribe are the ones marching in lock step to the wicked siren call of our modern day Pied Piper. According to many of the latest polls, over 30% of Evangelicals support Donald Trump. I am an Evangelical, and it baffles me how any professing follower of King Jesus can, on any level, support Trump.
Trump’s evil has been well-documented by media outlets ranging from the outright liberal (Salon), the “mainstream” (CNN and Fox), the downright pointless (Buzzfeed), and the outright conservative (National Review). His nonsensical assertions about Christianity are well-known; his number of bankruptcies has been deconstructed ad-nausaem; his vulgarity, racism, and misogyny are on full display pretty much every time he opens his mouth; his proposed economic policies have been ably demonstrated to be nonsensical at best, by both conservative and liberal economists alike; his integrity was obviously sacrificed on the altar of opportunism long ago. And, what’s more, his bull-in-a-China-shop approach and rhetoric are self-evidently beyond inappropriate and firmly in the land of dangerously counterproductive in regards to being the potential leader of the free world. However, not only am I unqualified to add anything to the conversation about how Trump is an inevitable political and economic train wreck for this country, the voices legitimately crying “wolf” are so loud and prevalent as to render my thoughts unnecessary. I do, however, feel compelled to speak to fellow subjects of King Jesus about their support of evil. To that end, I have written an open letter to Evangelicals who support Trump:
Dear Evangelical Who Supports Donald Trump,
First, allow me to say that I am grateful that King Jesus has called me to labor alongside of you in this day and age. Like you, I look around at the shifting and relativistic morality of this epoch and am deeply troubled. I applaud you for taking a stand against things like the murder of babies (abortion), same sex marriage, and the oppression of the poor and afflicted. With those stands, you are representing King Jesus admirably. And I look forward to the day we meet, feast together, and give praise for our salvation in Christ Jesus at the table of our King upon His return. Our King has called us to serve Him in a time that is increasingly more at odds with who He is and what He expects, and your bravery and commitment to Him in the face of growing evil is an encouragement to me. Which is why I’m so confused and, frankly, troubled about your support for a man like Donald Trump.
The Apostle Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, admonished us to remain committed to King Jesus as “sojourners and exiles”.We are, without question, on one level, strangers in a strange land. However, we have been called to spread the Gospel of our King and live lives that glorify God. This means, on another level, we are King Jesus’ ambassadors in this strange land. Our words, actions, and decisions reflect on our King. Which is why, like so many of you, I will never, by God’s grace, vote for a candidate that supports the murder of babies and/or same-sex marriage. I will never, by God’s grace, use my vote or my voice to even insinuate that King Jesus supports those evils. I don’t care if every other policy of a politician matches my own, if that politician supports abortion and/or same-sex marriage, I will not vote for him or her. But this is also why, as a subject and ambassador of King Jesus, I can never, by word or deed, demonstrate support for a man like Donald Trump.
As Evangelicals, we claim to be pro-family. That’s a good and just thing. So why do you support a man who made (and continues to make) his fortune in an industry that has broken the backs and hearts of so many families?
The gambling industry has long been decried by Evangelicals as being an evil that decimates people and families. Has something changed? Is the casino industry morally neutral now? Have we followers of King Jesus been wrong about the casino industry this whole time? I mean, if I were asked those questions, I would unhesitatingly respond, “No.”
In 2013, the Institute for American Values released a study detailing the growing harmful effects of the casino industry. The impact that casinos have on communities and families is chillingly revolting. Quoting a long section of the IAV’s report, “Clinical and other observational studies confirm what common sense tells us: problem gamblers hurt their families as well as themselves. The compulsion to gamble leads to financial hardships: burdensome debt, loan defaults, and fraud; excessive payday borrowing; bankruptcy; loss of a business or home; and sometimes total destitution. Gambling destroys bonds of trust. Problem gamblers hide and lie about their gambling debts. They borrow or steal from family members, including children. They spend their time at the casino rather than at home”.
Considering that the casino industry is dependent on “problem gamblers,” it’s next to impossible for Evangelicals to argue that our long-standing position is wrong. Furthermore, the casino industry is run by evil people who worship the false idol of mammon. Trampling the lives of individuals, families, and communities, men like Donald Trump have built their fortunes on the scourged backs of the poor and oppressed. As a follower of King Jesus, why would you support an evil and oppressive man like Trump, and, by proxy, claim that King Jesus supports Trump?
(edit: after writing this article, I found out that Trump owns strip clubs. So, there’s that, too.)
King Jesus has not called us to make American great; He has called us to represent Him and to spread His Gospel (I recognize that those things are not, by necessity, always mutually exclusive). Setting aside the discussion about whether or not Trump can make America great, a man characterized by profaneness and callous disregard for others forfeits all claims of support from followers of King Jesus. There is nothing about Donald Trump that remotely resembles Galatians 5:22-25. In fact, Galatians 5:19-21 describes Trump almost perfectly – “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.”
When you listen to Trump speak, how do you justify his profaneness, his gleeful cruelty towards others, and his willingness to blatantly lie? Recently, Trump boasted that he could murder somebody and he still wouldn’t lose any voters. What part of Donald Trump’s personality and life makes you think that King Jesus is ok with you supporting Trump?
Claiming that Trump’s brand of profaneness is what’s needed to right the ship, so to speak, is a pragmatism that is willing to trade the commands and concerns of King Jesus for a comfort and security that is delivered by someone characterized by Galatians 5:19-21. As an ambassador of King Jesus, why would you claim that, at the expense of His own concerns, He supports an individual that is characterized by the works of the flesh?
Look, I understand. Referencing the Jerry Garcia quote from above, I’m not claiming that any candidate meets the standards of King Jesus. I mean, none of them do. To be fair, apart from our Creator God viewing us in Christ, you and I do not either. And, for the record, I don’t believe that a politician has to be a Christian in order to demonstrate a concern for righteousness. Integrity in the pursuit of righteousness is important, and non-Christians, reflecting that they too are made in the Image of God, have, throughout history, demonstrated the ability to govern wisely and justly with an admirable level of integrity. That being said, if you’re concerned, as I am, about the seeming lack of integrity in the Republican Party, why do you believe that the answer is embracing a candidate that takes the lack of integrity to a whole new depraved level? In other words, I don’t have an answer about whom you should vote for. I do, however, believe that supporting/voting for Donald Trump is so blatantly in opposition to King Jesus as to be supporting obvious evil.
As followers of King Jesus, we are called to faithfully represent Him. Doing otherwise hinders our effectiveness in the preaching of the Gospel – which is our main mission on this earth. Your support for Donald Trump is an impediment to your ability to preach the Gospel. In other words, supporting Trump is doing the Devil’s work of hindering the Gospel. When you stand before King Jesus one day, how are you going to explain that?
Your Fellow Subject of King Jesus,
 Not being a political pundit nor having anything beyond a layperson’s understanding of economic theory.
 And qualified.
 I Peter 2:11, ESV.
 I do not consider the phrase “single issue voter” a pejorative.
 According to the IAV’s report, upwards of 60% of the casino industry’s revenue comes from problem gamblers.
 I want to stress, again, characterized.