Why some conservative Christians like Donald Trump (COMMENTARY)

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Republican 2016 U.S. presidential candidate and businessman Donald Trump leaves the stage at the end of the first official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign in Cleveland, Ohio, August 6, 2015. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Republican 2016 U.S. presidential candidate and businessman Donald Trump leaves the stage at the end of the first official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign in Cleveland, Ohio, August 6, 2015. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Brian Snyder

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(RNS) This is a man who does not know the meaning of the word “shame.” A man who lacks the basic self-awareness to see his own sins and need for redemption.

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  • Larry

    So at best Trump is guilty of making subtext and insinuations of conservatives more obvious than some are comfortable with. Using an airhorn instead of a dog whistle.

    Trump isnt saying anything particularly different from the other candidates content-wise. It is merely the manner of delivery which iis upsetting “delicate” sensibilities.

    Maybe people should take a little time and reflect on what those particular positions really mean. When spoken more plainly, without so much obfuscation and euphemisms.

  • Jack

    Trump’s popularity is proof positive that the political far left doesn’t have a total monopoly on willful blindness and stupidity.

    But this is a good article that explains part of what’s going on.

  • Dan McDonald

    I am so tired of the polarization of our politics. My response – I will vote for the candidate who shows the most respect to his opposition. That is not Donald Trump. We have serious issues in America including infrastructure to come together to fix and getting in a good political jab at others is not the constructive way to approach our national problems.

  • Andy

    “Trump is not a man of character.”

    Not a man character, lol, show me a politician who is and not that Trump is a politician either but honestly Trevin. Politicians make deals. They compromise their values to get something they want. They let others have their high places in exchange for their own to say that they’ve taken the moral high ground on an issue. I got kind of a kick out of Trump at the outset because I think he talks about what people talk about behind closed doors and in the safety of their homes: Once the mask of political correctness comes off. Trump is either an operative for Hillary or the republicans to be able to muster their base to unite is opposition. He’s in it for himself. Someone made a deal with him. We’ll eventually find out who is was.

  • Gibo

    When Peter first meet Jesus Christ he readily admitted he was a bawdy foul mouth fisherman. His first sermon began “We’re not drunk the pubs aren’t open yet”. Later Peter told a person “to go to hell” when they thought they could buy their way into heaven. Peter never purported to be any more than who he REALLY was, a sinner saved by grace. Amazing grace was written by a slave trader. Moses, King David and Paul were all murders…sinners saved by grace.

    Don Trump admits he’s a sinner….its a good start.

  • Paula

    What are “the ridiculous rules of the PC police?”

    How exactly is “political correctness” different than treating people with respect. (You know, gay people, black people, women, queer people.)

  • I think Christians vote for him because he is politically incorrect.

    The enemy of the enemy is a friend.

    You can vote for this guy who is a total jerk and everyone can see it or you can vote for one of the other total jerks that is pretending not to be. “I give to everyone because then they owe me favors later” Trump says, more or less. He is running in reality, not in the pretend facade that politicians pretend we live in.

    Pick your poison though. They are all bad. Some worse than others, but there will be no messiah president.

  • Larry

    Typical Jack. Can’t even admit a fault without flinging poo at people who are not arch conservatives.

    Whatever.

  • Larry

    “Political correctness” is the conservative catchphrase to describe showing annoyance at casual prejudices and undue privilege they typically display.

  • Jack

    Larry, you do it all of the time, but more to the point, it is what it is and I’m not going to bend reality for comity’s sake and deny the obvious.

  • Jack

    Well, Dan, it’s not either/or. If you want the opposite of Trump, it’s Jeb Bush, a gentleman duly committed to Marquis of Queensbury rules. If Jeb becomes the GOP nominee, Hillary’s bunch will eat him alive. He will predictably lose and then spend the rest of his life telling everyone what a principled gentleman he was not to defend himself or his values from the Hunnish onslaught.

    I don’t think the GOP or the country is well-served by either extreme. I don’t want the GOP to nominate someone with no respect for the opposition…nor do I want it to nominate someone with far too much respect for it.

    The GOP needs (1) a fighter who (2) is not a barbarian. The former rules out Bush and the latter rules out Trump.

  • Jack

    No, I don’t see that Trump is admitting anything of the sort.

  • The Great God Pan

    There’s not much of a mystery to uncover here. Conservative Christian voters like conservative Christian candidates, and care more about that tribal identification than issues of character.

    And yes, Trump is Christian. That has been reported right here at RNS.

  • Jack

    Pan, that’s not it. Try reading the article. The author pretty much explained it.

  • reposted comment from Onion AV Club

    http://www.avclub.com/article/republican-presidential-debate-dog-show-223600

    “The difference between the GOP debate and a dog show is that you lose points for sh!@#ing all over the stage in a dog show”

  • Eric

    “So why do some conservative Christians admire him? The one aspect that draws people to Trump is his fearlessness when it comes to offending the sensibilities of the cultural elite. We shouldn’t underestimate just how attractive his unguarded rhetoric is to conservatives who feel increasingly shut out of important conversations.”

    This is true, but this is only half true:

    “The support for Trump among some of the religious voters in our nation surprises me because Trump is not a man of character.”

    In light of the first quote, support for Trump should *not* be surprising. In fact, it flows directly from the point about Trump’s lack of character: so-called conservative or religious voters are not people of character, either.

  • All manner of people “worship”the”Allmighty Dollar” so your comments have no valid context and frankly make little sense.As a fairly conservative Christian myself,I cannot foresee the unlikely election of Mr.Trump benefitting my bank account in the least,unless you nknow something Idon’t.As one of “the blacks”(As Trump so helpfully described African-Americans),I’ve lived underneath the so-called ” Poverty Line” virtually my entire life,and no presidential election has EVER made any discernable difference inre my economic situation.I’m not complaining,mind you; I’ve always been a simple person,and I’ve my needs met by Almighty God all my life.So…while I find the idea of Donald Trump as president absolutely ludicrous,don’t try to throw me under your blanket…I need Donald Trump to be president like I need two navels.

  • Are you a reformed alcoholic,Rionni? ‘Csuse you sure bring up drunkeness a lot.Why is that?

  • Oh,please,”great god Pan”!! Donald Trump is as much a”christian”as Osama Bin Laden was!.What the what are you talking about? Authentic Christians are made by Almighty God,not by their own claims.Get educated before you hold forth on a subject you’ve just proven you know NOTHING about!!

  • Are you in position to be the judge of other people’s characters,Eric? Somehow,I kinda doubt that,so dial it back a notch O.K?

  • Rionni

    Mr. Ringo- I bring it up because I meet person after person that claims
    to be Christian yet they still get drunk,be mean,gossip,gamble and are
    still sleeping around/having premarital sex cause those sins hardly get
    confronted because gay marriage/abortion get so much of a/the focus.

  • dan – I don’t know if I support him yet but John Kasich certainly seems to fit this bill – and someone who truly seems genuinely committed to trying to live out his faith in his political work.

  • Trevin,

    I’ve been an admirer of your writing and thought for some time, but I’m disappointed that you didn’t explicitly name that Trump’s “breath of fresh air” appeals to xenophobia and racism, or at least racial uneasiness, among white voters.

    This is the real reason so many “conservative Christians” are taken to him.

  • mike

    When you filter your religion through your politics, you can’t scrutinize your politics from the position of your religion because your religion is not in a position of authority over your politics.

    Thus, what these “christians” have done to Christianity makes it a false gospel called “civil religion.” It’s sacrilegious and a cult.

  • Eric

    If you call yourself a Christian and you support Trump, especially for the reasons described in the article, then you lack character. Period.

  • Larry

    “Authentic Christians” being anyone who you want to claim as your own. 🙂

    We all know how that game is played.

  • calvin

    And of course they love that he has money. Amazing how much latitude is given to the wealthy in all matters; primarily I believe because so many of us think we will one day be wealthy also.(storyline ALERT_ we won’t) He has no class, no substance and no details for all his bombastic comments. So when he says he will build the wall and make Mexico pay for it , will any of the illiterate reporters actually ask him to tell us exactly how you will pull that off. Or maybe in any field of the actual governance of our country- tell us exactly how you will do it. Instead we are to accept that he will be the best jobs President in the history of this country. God help this country if we should ever elect such a useless arrogant pompous ass as is this guy. What a wonderful education our children would obtain on how to treat people, how not to call people names, and how to work with other people to get things done for the greater good. But you “animal house” folks keep on worshipping this…

  • alison

    Exactly, the worship of capitalism.

  • Larry

    We all vote in accordance with our interests. One should be more worried about civility and agreement than discord. Contention means ideas are being considered and subjected to the need to support them. Dissent and argument are expressions of free speech and open debate. If you want gentility in politics, go to a dictatorship. There is only one point of view and everyone agrees with it in public.

    When it comes to certain subjects, one cannot simply sit on the sidelines with polite respect to one’s opponent. For example there is no such thing as a polite civil discussion on civil liberties. Too much is at stake for those involved.

    “So you think that …”

    Calvin, who is this addressed to? You are arguing against a point nobody has made.

  • Jack

    Nice try, Larry, in raising the “no-true-Scot” objection, but that only works when Christians are defined by behavior.

    Not so with doctrine:

    Trump can easily be disqualified from being a Christian by the simple fact that his own words show that he doesn’t understand what sin is or how deep it reaches us all as human beings, and thus how it required the Son of God to suffer a horrifying, miserable death to make salvation available.

    That’s the Gospel, and it doesn’t appear that Trump believes a single word of it.

  • Jack

    Not really, Gibo. He’s like the person who admits he’s ill but insists it’s indigestion rather than cancer.

  • Jack

    Paula, political correctness refers to an unending battery of do’s and don’t that put a stranglehold on freedom of expression, forcing even the most tolerant and open-minded people to monitor their own words as one would when living under a dictatorship.

  • Eric

    Jack, just how good does that kool-aid taste?

  • Eric

    Jack, please stop using words you don’t understand. Like the “no true Scotsman” fallacy.

  • Jack

    I wouldn’t know, Eric, since it’s yours and you’ve managed to imbibe it all in one gulp.

  • Jack

    Eric, Larry is claiming to have spotted an example of the “no-true-Scot” fallacy at work when he really hasn’t.

  • Jack

    Spoken like a die-hard lefty, Eric. Anyone who dares to disagree with you guys just has to be a bad person. The idea that principled people can be on either side of the political or ideological divide is anathema to people like you.

  • Ben in oakland

    What you were: “political correctness” other people would probably call the court of public opinion. You’re still free to say whatever you wish in this country: however, if you were going to express racist, anti Semitic, or homophobic comments, and do so in a public forum, don’t be surprised if people come down on you for being a racist, and anti-Semite, or homobigot.

    You can still say racist things: Trump certainly has. People don’t do too much of the anti-Semite thing anymore, though as late as 1977, F. Bailey Smith, president of the Southern Baptist convention, declared “God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew.” And you can pretty much count on Homo bigotry coming from religious conservatives, without too much low back, even from their fellow Bible believers, who are happy to quote the “good parts” of Corinthians, but not the part that applies to them.

    But mostly, people don’t want to listen to crap about their friends and family, and will tell you so.

  • Fran

    Mike,

    I’m a Christian so I don’t vote. I don’t vote because I am a theocrat, who supports God’s literal rule over man “instead” of man over man. So politics has “nothing” to do with my religion since I have nothing to do with it.

    I accept the present rule of man at this time (and don’t try to change or overthrow it) as I know God’s kingdom or heavenly government will soon put an end to all human governments, replace them, (Daniel 2:44), and rule instead over man. The time left for man to dominate over man, mostly to his injury, is short. And what a relief that is to me!

    God’s government will rule with perfect love, righteousness and justice, so unheard of by any of man’s governments today (Isaiah 11:1-9). That’s where my vote goes and stays.

    Things will only get worse with man’s governments as time goes by (wait and see)… they are like the Titatanic that hit the iceberg. It’s only a matter of time before they go down, and no one will or can save them.

  • Larry

    The people who moan the loudest about “political correctness” are usually trying to make excuses for casually offensive and usually malicious statements. People who ask for tolerance on their boorish and prejudiced behavior.

    Usually typified by the nonsense, “why won’t you tolerate my intolerance” or “you are persecuting me by not letting me persecute others”.

  • Larry

    A blind person can spot it being used here. You use it on a regular basis. All you are demonstrating is the excuses one gives when their prior excuses are not taken seriously. The usual disavowal nonsense works towards feeling better about negative associations, but nobody buys it. It is one of the most obvious lies fundies love to use.

    Like many terms you employ and reference, you have no clue what you are talking about.

  • Larry

    Like you know what a “die hard lefty” really is. Give us all a break. You use terms to allegedly describe ones political position, but are so ignorant as to their actual meaning. Yes jack, bad people exist. Yes jack, not all issues can be discussed with genteel politeness and comfortable distance.

  • Larry

    Trumps biggest mistake so far has been attacking Fox News’s resident NILF (Newscaster I-L-F), Megyn Kelly. She has quite a fan base among their audience. I always thought she was a blithering ditz, but now she looks sympathetic. It makes the man with the dead weasel hairpiece look like a bully.

  • Jack

    No, Ben, political correctness goes far beyond the basic rules of human civility. It goes well beyond the realization of all decent people that while virtually all expression is constitutionally protected, some of it is vile and deserves to be called out as such.

    What political correctness does is, as the phrase suggests, enforce the notion that only one set of political opinions should be tolerated on key issues, and that those holding contrary opinions are bad people who deserve to be bullied into silence or submission or otherwise marginalized by all means possible.

  • Jack

    Nice try, Larry, but opponents of political correctness span the spectrum. One of its first opponents was JFK staffer, RFK biographer, and Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) co-founder Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Schlesinger, a man with impeccably liberal Democratic credentials, warned that political correctness was a new McCarthyism, this time on the left, not the right.

    Schlesinger was one of the popularizers of the traditional liberal sentiment that “I abhor what you’re saying, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

  • Jack

    Larry, even you know that what you just posted is empty rhetoric that says and proves nothing. Again, “no-good-Scotsman” accusations only work when behavior is the criterion used to discern who’s who. They don’t work when the criteria are beliefs and doctrines.

    And the reason should be obvious. If I say I’m a committed vegan and I do an ad for Perdue, one does not fall into the “no-good-Scotsman” fallacy by countering my claim, because the very definition of committed vegan precludes my promoting consumption of chickens.

    That’s the problem with Trump’s calling himself a Christian. Based on any objective, doctrinal definition of Christianity, it’s clear from his words that he does not assent to such doctrines. He thinks he’s basically an okay guy who occasionally messes up. That is logically incompatible with the Christian teaching that says that even the best people are hopelessly out of kilter with God absent repentance.

  • Jack

    Bad people exist, Larry, but they may be found across the ideological spectrum. It is the modern, peculiarly leftist view that anyone who isn’t left must be a bad person that is the problem. And it’s clear from your many posts over time that you actually believe that — or at least pretend to believe it as a tactic designed to throw ideological foes on the defensive.

  • nick

    Larry everything that Trump has said is a mistake since he announced his running for president.

  • Ben in oakland

    What do you have against dead weasels, Larry?

    In any case, it’s not a hairpiece, it’s a comb-over. And probably the worst comb over the world has ever seen.

  • Larry

    I am sure google can turn up plenty of examples of worse combovers. But none of them had reality TV shows or are running for president.

  • Larry

    Name dropping is not an actual argument.

    In practice the term, “political correctness” is almost exclusively used by conservatives as an excuse to give casual offense to others. One plays up their prejudice to a sympathetic audience under the guise of “combating political correctness” when in reality they are just pandering to the base instincts of the given crowd.

  • Jack

    Nice try, Larry, but yes, given your clumsy attempt to dismiss opponents of political correctness as boors and bigots, it is both relevant and effective to mention the names of liberals, none of them boors or bigots, who warned against the rise of political correctness, calling it left-wing McCarthyism.

  • Larry

    Except in this case, that is exactly what happened. Trump said something foolish, offensive and cretinous and he fobbed it off as being “anti-PC”. Facts are very inconvenient for your point here.

    In virtually every example of people being “anti-PC” you see attempts to excuse or hand wave criticism over clearly offensive and boorish statements. A way to make casual prejudice acceptable in public.

    “Left Wing McCarthyism” is one of those things oft discussed about, but extremely rare in real life (and usually fictional). Something used to deflect criticism of more pervasive and obvious faults. Like complaints of persecution among American Christians. Something done to excuse or as cover for their more common efforts to persecute others.
    http://elielcruz.religionnews.com/2015/08/12/russell-moore-equality-act-is-a-threat-to-religious-freedom/

  • Larry

    There is an interesting theory that Trump is either an agent of:
    1) Hilary Clinton to produce an eminently unelectable GOP primary winner or

    2) an agent of Christian Fundamentalists to make their candidates appear more reasonable and sane than reality would suggest.

    Both are a bit silly. But it makes one think.

  • Shawnie5

    ‘it is the modern, peculiarly leftist view that anyone who isn’t left must be a bad person that is the problem. And it’s clear from your many posts over time that you actually believe that’

    True…and when reality does not fit the belief then it is time to tell us what we “really think,” or pull out the “you are lying” or “I don’t take you seriously” pill to alleviate the intolerable cognitive dissonance.

    The world is an uncomfortable place for those who desperately need the simple answers that bigotry provides.

  • Glenn Hawkins

    Larry,
    I totally disagree. Not saying anything particularly different than the other candidates content-wise? Have you been paying attention? Let’s begin with Ted Cruz who is an apologetic Christian. He has proven himself by standing tall and against the establishment by his filibusters. He has a passion to clean and fumigate the present system, not merely expose it. He also said in his announcement speech that he recently paid off his school loans–not exactly one who is even in a position to buy anybody’s influence. Marco Rubio is pro-baby, even re: the “emotional hard cases” of rape, incest and life of the mother. Ben Carson has truly substantive ideas about our foreign policy. So, please don’t lump everybody into the same “Trump camp.” Pay attention!

  • Glenn Hawkins

    re: Ted Cruz. He is an unapologetic Christian.

  • Trump is a Democrat running on a Republican ticket using ideals he hi-jacked from Santorum.. and trump is an arrogant conceded self centered boasting foul mouth Anti-God Anti- American who supported obama’s death decree on the unborn and supports universal heath-care supports amnesty .. trump says he identifies more with the democrats and claims that the economy does better under democrats and I know he believes it because he supported and funded obama , hillary, holder , reid and pelosi

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  • stinez

    Totally agree!!! I have been saying this ever since Trump stomped his way into the political arena. Right now, all the Bible-thumping, Rebel flag bearing, segregation-seeking “conservatives” of the South are all for anyone who appeases their bigoted minds. Trump would have aligned himself with Jim Crow, right along with most of these “conservatives” backing him now.

  • Larry

    http://www.theonion.com/graphic/how-trump-continues-lead-polls-51178

    Here are some reasons Trump stays so popular with his supporters:

    -Highly relatable lack of qualifications for holding government office

    -Americans’ appreciation for classic underdog story of man who started with only several hundred million dollars and went on to make several billion dollars

    -Only candidate to publicly state willingness to make America great again

    -Exploits other Republican candidates’ weaknesses by allowing them to open their mouths and speak on issues

    -Very, very handsome

    -Voters eager to see presidential library with three infinity pools and rooftop driving range

    -Bolstered by impassioned endorsement from Donald Trump

    -Eccentric, megalomaniac billionaire still more relatable to average American than anyone willing to dedicate life to politics

    -Appeals to widespread desire to see nation implode sooner rather than later

  • Stanley Kristiansen

    It should not be a suprise that this has happned. The evangelical movement is a movement that looks to a fabled “better” past. This is what Mr. TRUMP PROMISES a return to greatness, he offers this in black and white terms offering no real practical solutions but instead appealing to the deep rooted imaginary thinking that religiosity cultivates.

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  • Kathleen Wright

    po·lit·i·cal cor·rect·ness
    noun
    the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.

  • Kathleen Wright

    So he should be President because he had a reality TV Show?

  • Guest

    The man lies time and again. U are not following all of his flip flops.

  • Go

    The hypocriters who trashed Obama saying he is not being a Christian have no problem with Trump’s serial marriages and his confession he has never repented to God for anything because he lives such a righteous life. Too Funny! What a liar when some of us remember his public affair with second wife Marla Maples who went on Oprah and confessed to the affair.

  • Goldie

    OMG when asked about foreign policy all Trump could say was he will put together the best foreign policy team there is. So funny. No substance or strategy at all and he is still leading among the circus clowns and the clown fans.

  • Goldie

    Don’t forget the Christians so concerned about Obama not being a real Christian gave Trump a pass on his statement he never apologized to God. If he never repented to God for his sins he is not a Christian period end of story!

  • Goldie

    Right you are! How can we tell our kids not to bully others when Trump is leading in the polls for being a big bully?