Max Lucado is a pastor in San Antonio and a bestselling author of 32 books, including the most recent Glory Days. In a 2004 piece, Christianity Today dubbed Lucado “America’s Pastor,” alluding to his broad appeal to mainstream Americans. Part of that appeal can be attributed to his approach to politics: typically, he stays out of it. He never endorsed or opposed a presidential candidate. Then Trump happened.
In a recent blog post, Lucado chose to speak out against what he calls Trump’s “antics,” insisting that, “such insensitivities wouldn’t even be acceptable even for a middle school student body election.”
We talked to Lucado about his motivation for speaking up and how Trump has changed his attitude toward pastoral involvement in politics.
Prior to you publishing your post, “Decency for President” this week, how would you describe your typical approach to politics as a pastor?
I don’t even put a candidate’s bumper sticker on my car. People don’t attend church to hear my views on a presidential candidate.
In this case, it’s not so much a question about particular policies or strategies about government or even particular opinions. It’s a case of public derision of people. It’s belittling people publicly. It would be none of my business, I would have absolutely no right to speak up except that he repeatedly brandishes the Bible and calls himself a Christian.
I wrote this article and sent it to the Trump team in hopes that they would respond. But they never did. I cannot imagine what their world must be like. Who knows? It probably got lost in some email basket out there. But I tried because I felt that that would be more appropriate to do.
It’s a high stakes thing from my perspective because people make decisions about Christ on the basis of Christians and how we behave. If he’s going to call himself a Christian one day and call someone a bimbo the next or make fun of somebody’s menstrual cycle, it’s just beyond reason to me.
So the tipping point for you came when Trump made outright claims of being a Christian and associated himself with evangelicals?
Yes. There was one occasion he held up a Bible. On another occasion, at Liberty University, he read from Scripture. On multiple occasions he’s said “Of course I’m a Christian.” There was a time in Iowa when he said “I’m a Christian,” and somebody asked about forgiveness and he said “I’ve never asked God for forgiveness.”
I can’t imagine that. I’m just shaking my head going “How does that work?” Does a swimmer say “I’ve never gotten wet?” Does a musician say “I’ve never sung a song?” How does a person claim to be a Christian and never need to ask for forgiveness?
Is it fair to say that you wrote this without thinking through what the fallout might be?
There is no strategy to this. It is what it is. It’s a statement. I have a webpage as you probably know and most of the things I write about are Christian life. The post that preceded this was about living a life of contagious joy. I don’t get into controversy well. I certainly don’t enjoy it this much.