More than ever, the 2016 presidential election has troubled and divided evangelicals. Many have long supported the Republican Party but find it impossible to vote for a candidate who seems to glory in his moral flaws. According to others, his stated social views and promise to nominate conservatives to the Supreme Court make it imperative to support him.
I recently saw the discussion play out at a dinner with evangelical leaders. After the main course, the hostess said, “Okay, everybody, who are you voting for and why?”
The first to weigh in said something along these lines: “I cannot vote for Donald Trump. The argument that he’s ‘flawed-but-acceptable’ implies he’s a normal candidate, but he isn’t. He’s morally reprehensible. He boasts of his sexual conquests, and regularly makes sexist and racially charged remarks. He (partially) owns gambling casinos with in-house strip clubs, so he profits from addiction and vice. He’s inexperienced and willfully ignorant of foreign policy. He voluntarily repudiates treaties as fundamental as NATO, and admires dictators like Putin. His domestic positions are sound, but he took the opposite view on almost everything a few years ago, so no one knows what he really believes. Beyond all that, he’s erratic, belligerent, and too unhinged to control nuclear codes.”
Someone else disagreed: “Even if everything you say is true, a point I don’t concede, Hillary Clinton is worse. She’s the most pro-choice candidate in America’s history, a congenital liar, financially corrupt, and guilty of the self-righteousness that makes healthy self-doubt impossible. She’s committed to the ongoing destruction of the family as God defines it, and is so wedded to Wall Street that she cannot govern for the people. Under her, taxes will rise, government will grow, and the Supreme Court will become more liberal. Except for her feminism, she’s a raw pragmatist. She will continue Obama’s assault on the American system of government by ruling through presidential regulations that supplant the role of Congress.”
A third person said, “I agree with the analysis of both candidates, which is why I won’t vote for either. I’ll either abstain or vote for a third-party candidate.”
- Must Christians Vote? Part II—How Factions Affect Conscience by Joe Carter
- Must Christians Vote? Part III—Character in the Context of Factions by Joe Carter
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