Throughout the last several months, the presidential debates have taken on a new dimension, one that has evolved to resemble reality TV. One candidate in particular, Donald Trump, has managed to capture the attention of America and surprisingly, retain widespread support.
The reason behind his political success has perplexed many. Even more perplexing is the fact that Trump, a man whom many consider to be offensive, greedy, arrogant, sexist, and a man who kindles violence, is being credited with the support of Evangelical Christians.
Trump has gained the support of key Evangelical leaders Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, and more Evangelical votes than his Evangelical opponent Ted Cruz.
Christianity, a religion that revolves around love, joy, faith, kindness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22), does not seemingly describe Donald Trump. An article from the Daily News accurately described Trump, in that “if forced to create someone who is the opposite of Jesus Christ, that person would look a lot like Donald Trump.” An anonymous M-A student agreed that, “Donald Trump is about as far from Christianity as anyone can be. He preaches hate and contempt for other human beings, which is the antithesis of what Jesus Christ stood for.”
In the last few months alone, Trump has attacked Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers, mocked invalids and those who don’t agree with him, proposed to alienate all Muslims from the U.S. and promised to attack the families of terrorists. If elected, he would be the first American president to own a casino containing a strip bar, alongside the very first First Lady who has exposed her nude self to the public.
M-A sophomore Holly Newman “does not think Donald Trump’s ideology is an accurate representation of Christianity, or any religion for that matter. Regardless of which God you believe in, religion is about love. Love for your neighbor, love for your opponent, and love for yourself. Christians who use their religion to justify the criminalization of minority groups identify with Donald Trump’s xenophobic policies; however, Christians who love others as their kin are able to see the error inherent to Trump’s credo.
These are only a fraction of the reasons why one might question a Christian’s support of Trump, especially after Christians led the moral charge against President Bill Clinton following his affair while in office and largely led the moral brigade in the fight against abortion. However, when it comes to their support of Trump, they have disregarded morality with the excuse of electing a president and not a pastor.
A possible reason behind their change in attitude lies in Trump’s ‘strength’ and dominance— few political leaders have managed to assert such authority. Trump is playing into the fears of Americans: fears of immigrants, terrorists, overseas unemployment, and a cultural shift away from ‘white’ Evangelical beliefs.
A recent survey by Matthew C. MacWilliams from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst revealed that the most telling indication of a Trump supporter is if they have ‘authoritarian’ tendencies. Authoritarians seek a leader who prioritizes order over personal freedoms and liberties. In 2006, a Baylor study depicted Evangelicals with a disproportionate level of authoritarian personality types.
Although I do not agree with the Evangelical support of Trump, fears of border safety, loss of jobs, and loss of culture culminate in an authoritarian mindset that does sheds some light as to why many abandon morality in a leader. They are looking for a leader who will lead them back to the good old days. Funny, I always thought a leader was supposed to lead us forward, not backwards.