Is the Republican Option Still Viable for Christians?
December 10, 2015
10 comments 323 views
There used to be a notion that conservative-minded Christians—especially Christian Reformed folks—invariably voted Republican. Now we don't discuss politics much at meetings of Synod. Our political preferences are generally kept to ourselves.
Given the current debate among those seeking the Republican nomination for President in 2016, and given the extraordinary popularity of Donald Trump, one wonders if the Republican Party has lost its way. When Trump declares that all Muslims should be banned from entering America, and the implication that those who live here should return from whence they came—and that Mexicans should do the same—those attitudes are anything but Christian.
Instead of espousing the notion that we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves, Trump would be inclined to refer to loving our 'white' neighbors as we love ourselves.
Synod's determination to continue the Muslim-Christian dialogue would be difficult under a Trump presidency because there wouldn't be many Muslims with which to engage.
His response to mass murders on school campuses, in movie theaters, and at public gatherings is not to ban guns but to put guns in the hands of 'good' people so that they can kill 'bad' people. Clearly not a biblical principle. America's greatest fear should not be Islamic terrorists but our own gun-totting neighbors. America has the highest per capita rate of gun-related murders of any nation on earth.
What is most amazing is that there is no significant denunciation of Trump's comments by the Republican Party. The Republicans want to win next year's election...and as long as Trump's fascist comments are popular with a significant number of Americans, the party will go along for the ride.
Republican values used to be akin to Christian values. That is no longer the case. Unless there is a significant shift in those values over the next few months, I think it would merit significant discussion time at next summer's Synod meeting. What kinds of values should shape our society—on both sides of the border? At what point should the church speak out when political parties advocate notions that are clearly unbiblical? Given Synod's reluctance to deal with partisan politics, that discussion is unlikely to happen. But the discussion could and should take place within the pages of The Banner.
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I agree, and the discussion should go beyond the comments made by Mr. Trump.
This author says, "What is most amazing is that there is no significant denunciation of Trump's comments by the Republican Party." Huh, what? I can't recall a political party that has more denunciated its own primariy season leader than the Republican Party has done this year in dununciating Trump and Trump's actions/statements, even though the Republican Party knows it risks alienate its own who support Trump by doing so.
Donald Trust does not equal Republican Party, even if this author suggests it is the case. Had there been a better opportunity in the Democratic Party to get elected, Trump would have run as a Democrat. Indeed, Trump has quite easily slipped from party to party -- and candidate to candidate -- in the past, and will continue to do so in the future, a fact not lost on Republican Party leaders and others who actually know what the phrase "political theory" means and can articulate their perspective about what government should or should not do.
Contrary to the advice in this article, The Banner should editorially stay out of the 2016 presidential race. Why? Beyond the generic sphere sovereignty arguments, because the editor and editorial board have less expertise than is needed to constructively take such positions.
Certainly, the institutional church (including Banner editor and ed board) can take a position against being crass, against calling names, against demagoguery, against racism, against hating, against dishonesty, against all sorts of things that it might decide it sees in this election, but it should not try to definitively describe the nuances of the make up of the Republican Party, nor the Democratic Party for that matter, nor any of the candidates, let alone endorse or oppose any.
It's been three months since that initial posting and much has happened since then. There has been a growing endorsement of Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. Hillory Clinton is almost assured to receive the Democratic Party nomination.
While I agree that synod should not get into a partisan debate, there is considerable merit in having synod talk about the 'state of the union'; that is, the state of American society. What is sparking the anger?
As Mercatornet editor Michael Cook recently wrote, "about 40 per cent of American children are born out of wedlock ... 55 per cent of teenagers live in families where their biological parents have rejected each other. Broken homes are associated with poverty, personal instability, and poor employment prospects. In this year's election campaign, this might encourage people to vote for an anti-establishment figure like Mr. Trump."
American society seems broken. The notion of 'the family' is disintegrating. If ever there was a time for the church -- in our case, Synod -- to discuss the issue, it is now. And it shouldn't be a discussion on which candidate or which party to support -- though it may come to that; it should be a discussion on how the church should respond to the desperate cry for help from millions of American families who seem hopeless and disenfranchised.
While it may be wise for the church to stay out of the partisan debates, the church does have a significant message of hope to bring to a broken society ... and it indeed is broken.
Keith: I heartily agree with your suggestion as to what the institutional church (synod or otherwise) may and should talk about (e.g., state of American society, anger, increasing percentage of children born out of wedlock, etc).
There is a fine but yet very real line between the institutional church talking, and then proclaiming, about societal issues, and the institutional church usurping sphere authority of others by becoming a political megaphone for a certain member segment's political perspective.
Where was the Republican Party and where were the Republican candidates in the months following Mr. Trump's entry into the campaign on June 16, 2015? Where were they in July, August, September, October, November, December? Where was the "courageous," "principled" Sen. Ted Cruz during those months? Waiting for the Trump phenomenon to fizzle so he could pick up votes from the Trump supporters? An example of leading from behind?
An appropriate and potentially fruitful way The Banner and Synod could address the current situation would be to engage in a discussion of the consequences of blind partisanship and knee-jerk allegiance to a single political ideology and a world-view informed solely by opinionators from one end of the spectrum and one cable "news" channel. It should be a source of concern for Christians that so many of their fellow believers rely solely on such a narrow range. I don't recall any campaign since the 1950's that was so disdainful of fact-checking and so ready to wallow in "truthiness" and escalating divisiveness.
What is to prevent the prevailing ethic of obstructionism, anger, and demonizing the opposition from carrying over into 2017 and beyond, regardless which party prevails in November?
Sorry Gerrit but I think you are way off-base in your perspective about the Trump phenomena. First, Republicans were opposing Trump when you say they weren't, although of course it became more as time passed, but that's nothing more than normal -- and responsible -- human behavior. You don't make a big fuss about something that will slide away on its own. It was reasonable to believe that Trump would gain no traction at all and fall to the wayside early. Indeed, it was unreasonable to think otherwise.
Yes, the Republican campaign has been beyond abhorrent but also beyond precedent. But all of it -- all of it -- has to do with one candidate who could as well have run as a Democrat, whose history strongly suggests he has no political party affiliation -- or political theory perspective -- of any kind.
Your response suggests you are a bit of a victim of what you what the denomination to rant against, that is, partisanship (noting your reference to "opinionators from one end of the spectrum and one cable 'news' channel"). If you want to "prevent the prevailing ethic of obstructionism, anger, and demonizing the opposition ...," you could start by not demonizing Republicans -- or Fox News for that matter -- as you do here. The brushes you are using are far too broad (aka "partisan").
Doug, where is your evidence for Republican statements of "opposition" to Trump during the months of June to December? What led you or others to believe that the Trump phenomenon would "slide away on its own" when poll after poll showed substantial support for his candidacy?
I agree with your observations concerning the Republican campaign being "abhorrent."
Personally I am an independent voter who has supported and voted for candidates from both parties over the years. Your suggestion that I am "demonizing Republicans" is simply off-base. My GOP friends would find your suggestion amusing. Please note that my comments addressed partisanship per se, not applied to one particular party You apparently read GOP into it, and assume that I was referring only to sole reliance on certain sources of information. My comments apply to MSNBC as well as Fox News. Opinionators approach their subjects in many and varied ways, and neither party has a monopoly on demonization.
I hope and pray that we can discuss characteristics of the political scene (serious discussion, not "ranting") without resorting to untested assumptions concerning our fellow discussant.
In his entire campaign, Trump vilified his opponents, some of whom later refused to vote for him in the Presidential election. (ie. the Bush family). Many Rep were talking of voting against their party. In the end, Trump convinced most that he wanted to unite the party, that bygones are bygones, and he even appointed some of his most vociferous opponents to cabinet posts. You forget that if both parties simply spout the same lines, there is no reason to have two or three parties at all. It remains to be seen if Trump's vision will work out, but many christians were convinced that with all its foibles, it was still a better option than the alternative.
In all of this we are forgetting a few things. Trump appealed to people on a whole bunch of populist ideas and concerns. He fought his campaign not on the basis of California liberalism, but on mid-west conservatism. But for years, politicians have been ignoring the plight of the unborn who are murdered at will. It is a more significant issue than terrorism since the number of human beings, black, white, hispanic, who are destroyed by abortion is vastly greater than any other deliberate cause of death. So if judges are appointed who can respect life, who can put limits to this carnage, then christians and muslims and other decent human beings ought to support that. And Trump's withdrawal of support for Planned Parenthood alone would give him a tremendous amount of room to make mistakes in other areas. In addition, although Trump's personal life is by no means ideal with his divorces etc., nevertheless if he supports traditional marriage and family values, especially in his later life, or at least politically, then that is a very important consideration.
He has stated a very definitive support for legal hispanic immigrants, as well as for blacks and other minorities. His own wife is an immigrant, which speaks as loudly as any thing he has said. It is possible that if a convincing argument is made regarding harmlessness of vetted immigrants that he will reduce or reverse his strong stance on that issue. But remember that he is a politician trying to keep his promises made on the campaign trail, not a politican who was intentionally lying the whole time.
He will have difficulty with the health care issue also, but that is a whole 'nuther matter.
Today I heard something about the USA supreme court redefining marriage. And in the process, innocent Christians are being persecuted, fined and prosecuted for exercising their religious freedom. Are the democrats doing anything to reverse that? To protect these issues of conscience? Are they speaking out against it? Are they promoting judges who take a more reasonable view of the US constitution?
If not, are Democrats still a viable option for Christians? Shouldn't they support politicians who at least honor God with their lips, rather than deny his claims to His very face?
And compare their stand on abortion, the murder, desecreation and genocide of innocent preborn human beings. Does not this also call into question any support by Christians of a Democrat party that promotes and funds institutions such as PLanned Parenthood, whose main business and funding stream is for abortion?
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