Why I will not, indeed cannot, vote for or support Donald Trump
Some of my Christian friends in the US and South Africa are very pro Trump and are surprised that I, a Christian, oppose him. And I do oppose him. Not because I belong to a different political party and am being loyal to that party. My party affiliation has nothing to do with my opposition to Trump. My Christian beliefs have everything to do with why I cannot support or vote for Donald Trump.
I believe I’ve been called to live a life with the goal of becoming more and more like Jesus, bit by bit, day by day. Trump’s lifestyle is the antithesis of the way of Jesus, not only that, there are some startling similarities between Trump and descriptions of the anti-Christ.
First, for many Christians, Trump’s glaring moral failures are overlooked because, they tell me, Trump is ‘pro-life,’ meaning Trump is against abortion and will promote anti-abortion policies and politicians. And that’s a fact. Trump has taken an aggressive stance in promoting anti-abortion policies. However, being against abortion doesn’t make a person pro-life. Trump isn’t pro-life. Just witness the treatment of immigrants at the US/Mexico border. More and more children, along with adults are dying thanks to Trump’s immigration policies. True, there are far fewer deaths at the border than through abortion. But if we’re truly pro-life, one avoidable death matters or should matter to us. I’m also concerned that so many who claim to be Christian have made abortion a central moral issue for Christianity. I’m not arguing for or against the morality of abortion, only against making it a central issue. When I read Scripture, all of it, not just my favorite bits, the central moral and ethical issue that is of deep concern to our God is justice for the poorest of the poor (the widow, the orphan, and yes, the alien). God is a lover of justice (Ps 99:4); delights in steadfast love, justice and righteousness (Jer 9:24). The Christian church should be standing up for justice for all people, especially the poor, the immigrant (the alien, regardless of status), the oppressed, those who can’t stand up for themselves, not merely the unborn child.
Second, Trump’s hallmark claims are the antithesis of the demands Jesus makes of his disciples. Jesus said, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Mt 20:16). He also said, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all” (Mk 9:35). He also said, “The greatest among you will be your servant” (Mt 23:11). Trump says, “America first,” and “Make America great,” little realizing that this means becoming last and servant to all in Jesus’ kingdom, regardless of ethnicity, gender orientation, language, immigrant status, etc. I do not believe nor do I read in the Gospels that Jesus called us to be first and the greatest, either as individuals or as a nation.
Third, Jesus expects obedience to the law of love. In answer to the question about the greatest commandment, Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6: (“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all mind, and with all your strength”) and Leviticus 19 (“You shall love your neighbor as yourself”). This means that Jesus, who is God-With-Us, demands our total devotion. We’re to have no other gods before him, be those gods a spouse, a material possession, a sport, a pastor or a politician or Donald Trump. Our neighbor isn’t merely the one who lives on our block or the one who looks and acts like us. In Jesus’ teaching, our neighbor is the stranger, the alien, the legal and illegal immigrant, the poor, the oppressed, anyone who needs mercy and compassion. Trump expects complete devotion to himself and ridicules those who refuse to give it (he calls them ‘never-Trumpers’ or degrades them in a presidential tweet of hate-filled words). Trump expects us to despise our neighbors by building walls to keep the poor, the oppressed, the needy beyond our sight. This has nothing to do with the good news of Jesus. We are to love the alien among us (Lev 19:33-34 and many more). There is a curse on those who deprive the alien, the widow, the orphan of justice (Deut 22.19). Israel’s prophets continually advocated justice for the poor, the widow, the orphan and the alien. So should we who call ourselves Christian. Trump, the man the religious right has made their political hero, publicly (at the 2020 National Prayer Breakfast) mocked Jesus’ demand to love our enemies, an injunction that is all over the Bible, not only in Jesus’ teaching. Sadly, the religious right in his audience joined in the laughter suggesting their agreement with him. We become like what we worship and adore.
Fourth, many of Trump’s practices have similarities with the practices of the anti-Christ as described in Scripture. Repeatedly we’re warned that the anti-Christ and his minions will be boastful and arrogant. Daniel, in a vision described in Dan 7, states that the anti-Christ will possess a mouth that speaks arrogantly, causing Daniel to watch him because of the arrogant words he was speaking. Daniel also warned (comforting the oppressed) that “his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and totally destroyed” (v26). In Daniel 11 the anti-Christ is described as “a contemptible person on whom royal majesty had not been conferred; he shall come in without warning and obtain the kingdom through intrigue” (11:21). After Trump’s election in 2016 people today still marvel that he was able to win and “become strong with a small party” (11:23). Some see this as a miracle and a sign that Trump is God’s chosen one. But we should be careful about that. Many, including evangelical leaders, will see the anti-Christ as God’s chosen one too. Again, the warning to us and all Trumpians is that all his plans and strongholds will be only for a time (v24). The writer of Revelation has Daniel’s words in mind when he described the anti-Christ (or the beast) as having “a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words” yet “in amazement the whole earth followed the beast” (Rev 13:3-5). Trump daily utters and tweets haughty and blasphemous words (violent and obscene language) about his enemies (meaning anyone who disagrees or opposes him) and amazingly he too has followers, those who adore him, from around the world. However, anti-Christ (and also Trump) will only be allowed to exercise authority for a limited period (42 months).
As a Christian, struggling to live up to the name Christian (a little Christ) I seek to live the way of Jesus. He appointed his disciples (which includes Christians today) to be with him (live in fellowship with Jesus so that he rubs off on us), to go and proclaim the good news (that Jesus came to set all creation free; anything that oppresses another isn’t of Jesus), and to cast out demons (meaning, confront evil in the world) (see Mark 3:13-19 and my devotion on it in Journey to Jesus by Jackie Smallbones). As a Christian, I’m under an obligation to confront all evil, including the evil in the current President of the United States. Therefore, I cannot and will not vote for Trump in the November elections. Others will disagree with me and vote for him and continue to live the Christian way the best they can. My goal isn’t to persuade you but to encourage you to read your Bible too. I therefore urge you to spend 100 days reading Mark’s Gospel using my devotional book as your guide: Journey to Jesus with Mark’s Gospel as Guide, available at: https://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?keyWords=Journey+to+Jesus&type=
With Bartimaeus I continue to pray for myself and Christ’s Church, “Lord, that I may see” (Mark 10:46-52) and see clearly, 20/20 vision in this year of our Lord 2020.