How Trump Tempts Us

Politics is not about one thing, but many things held in tension.
How Trump Tempts Us
Image: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Three devout Christians made statements last week that point to the challenge for evangelicals as we step into the muddy waters of another electoral season.

The first comes from Pope Francis. Responding to Donald Trump’s views on illegal immigration from our southern border, he said that anyone who wants to build a wall is not “Christian.”

I didn’t think the Pope was judging Trump’s relationship to God (he’s said on other occasions, “Who am I to judge?”). I think he was making a moral pronouncement about “the wall”: He was saying it would be unchristian—or immoral—to build such a wall.

I trust we never get to a point where morality and policy are completely divorced. But in this instance, as in so many, it’s difficult to determine what in fact is the “Christian” position. Despite the ugly rhetoric, Trump and friends are deeply concerned about the security of US citizens. This is a moral concern, a Christian concern—we want to protect the lives and jobs of our fellow citizens. I don’t happen to think building a wall is the best way to achieve security, nor the best way to live up to our national ideas of welcoming the “tired,” “poor,” and “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” My Christian faith informs my judgment. But it would be self-righteous to say that mine is “the Christian position” and that any other is not “Christian.”

Many political solutions are rife with moral ambiguity. The security barrier that separates Israel from the West Bank is a deeply troubling phenomenon: it divides people, brings unnecessary hardship to those who must cross it daily to work, ...

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