Every week, we are treated to another revelation about the alarming attitudes of white evangelical Christians. You would think that a people steeped in the Bible—which commands and exemplifies concern for refugees and others in dire straits—would find President Trump’s closing the door to the world’s neediest refugees repulsive. But white evangelicals support Trump’s exclusionary policy by a whopping 75 percent.
Or take attitudes toward undocumented immigrants. Evangelical Christians believe Jesus died for them while they were lawbreakers. They are a people who know themselves as those who live moment to moment by sheer mercy. You would think these people would try to make at least some allowances for illegal immigrants. It turns out, however, that white evangelical Christians, more than any other religious group, say illegal immigrants should be identified and summarily deported.
Since Trump’s election, social and political scientists in survey after survey have tried to unravel the mystery of the 81 percent of white evangelical Christians who voted for him. While the economy seems to be the main reason, with abortion and religious freedom being crucial as well, too many of them seem to show little mercy to those who are not white Americans.
Supporting hardline immigration policies does not itself a xenophobe make—in fact, there are prudential reasons for limiting immigration. We just don’t find them persuasive. And when the argument for excluding foreigners from our shores amounts to fearmongering or sheer prejudice, a political issue becomes a matter of church discipline. We’re dealing with character issues among fellow believers.
For various reasons, here’s the ...1