As the people of Great Britain recover from last weeks shock Brexit vote, it is well to remember our cousins across the Pond have their own worries. Bar something unexpected they will be soon be facing the decision whether to endorse Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton for US President, who are evidently ideologically poles apart. For some it is Hobson’s choice as to who is the lesser of two evils.
While I take a particular interest as to what goes on here in the UK because I am more likely to be affected and whether I like it or not am caught up with what goes on, I also take an interest in what happens in the USA. I have been following closely the primary elections and blogging about what I see and, moreover, I subscribe to the adage: “when America coughs Britain catches a cold”.
I am mindful religion plays a much more significant part in American politics that in the UK. Not only does what religious folk think have a bearing on political outcomes but it is quite evident that US politicians go out of their way to ingratiate themselves with religious folk, and of particular interest here is the Evangelical constituency. As an insider, so to speak, I think I know how Evangelicals think, but even I have come to realize that Evangelicals, let known non-Evangelical Christians, frequently do NOT sing from the same hymn sheet. While my gut feeling is the Evangelicals, especially the more fundamentalist leaning, are more likely to support candidates from the right, it really is not that simple!
I have just read two articles: “James Dobson and The Christian Right Sleep With the Enemy” and “Dr. James Dobson: Donald Trump Has Accepted Christ”. It is not my intention to dissect what the two articles say but rather point out these reveal an “interesting” new twist in Trump’s journey to the White House (should it ever happen) as well as introduce a new character into the story – Dr. Dobson. I have to confess, I am a great admirer of James Dobson, an influential Christian leader who has contributed significantly to championing wholesome family life and to my understanding of the present day culture wars. When he speaks my ears prick up.
It seems, unsurprisingly, that Trump has managed to get together with a number of Evangelical leaders and have had talks with them, no doubt trying to persuade them at the same time that he should be the person they ought to support come election time. Enter James Dobson in the post match analysis. According to the second of our reports (the first was a lot more skeptical): “Dr. James Dobson, who was among the more than 900 evangelical faith leaders who met with the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting in New York City, says it happened fairly recently. He also said he knew who led the businessman to Christ. “I don’t know when it was, but it has not been long,” Dobson told Godfactor’s Michael Anthony in an exclusive interview. “I believe he really made a commitment, but he’s a baby Christian. We all need to be praying for him, especially if there’s a possibility of him being our next chief executive officer.” “I think that he’s open,” he added. “He doesn’t know our language, he really doesn’t, and he refers a lot to religion and not much to faith and belief.”” All this got me thinking – how do I respond?
Returning to the first report, it is pretty scathing, beginning: “To paraphrase P.T. Barnum, “There’s a sucker born again every minute.” This week, according to a roomful of dewy-eyed pastors and fawning televangelists who met behind closed doors with GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump, he has accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and is apparently now suitable for Christians and church leaders to fully and passionately support. Never mind that Trump has made no such claims himself, nor given any indication by word or deed that would lead anyone to believe such outrageous proclamations. And disregard Trump’s growing legacy of ignorant rants against Muslims, Mexicans, women, immigrants, and almost any groups who aren’t wealthy or white—or both.” So here is what I think …
Here in the UK, Trump tends to be an object or revilement, listening to those who voice an opinion. It is difficult to find people who compliment him, I suspect partly because it is uncool to do so. My own opinion has already been offered and this based on Trump’s words and deeds. I don’t trust the man and find some of his opinions offensive (although the same is true with Clinton), but then I could be wrong. After all, Trump often is saying what people are thinking and may well overstate a point in order to push his message home. And is this recent conversion the beginning of a new Donald Trump? Mercifully, I am not called to offer an opinion, although no doubt a few of my American followers of this blog will be. It does bother me that Christians are too often duped, when what is called for is wise discernment, yet to be gracious. I don’t propose to take sides; as I point out to my fellow Christians: God is neither left or right (He is God) and we must trust in Him alone as well as call upon him for this great nation facing this huge decision.
Postscript: It has been 3 months since I wrote this article and a lot has happened and more of my blogs have followed. I still do not feel compelled to support either of the two very flawed candidates, but in his recent interview titled “James Dobson: Why I Am Voting for Donald Trump” Dr. Dobson gives compelling reasons why he prefers Trump over Clinton. Some of my friends I know will strongly disagree, but his points are at least worth considering.