A large segment of evangelicals look at Donald Trump and his followers and want to run in the opposite direction. The problem is that a lot of Trump’s followers are their brothers and sisters in Christ. Politico reported yesterday on an NBC News/Survey Monkey poll that 37 percent of white evangelical Republicans support his candidacy. Yesterday, Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, endorsed Trump, and Dallas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress spoke highly of him; this following Franklin Graham’s endorsement of Trump’s immigration views in December. Such evangelical support makes that first group of evangelicals really nervous.
That’s understandable given many things Trump says and supports. Like banning all Muslims from coming to America. Like shooting the families of terrorists. Like suggesting that if he himself shot someone, his fans would still rise up and rally around him.
Donald Trump sometimes acts like he’s a messiah—Ted Cruz calls it his “messiah complex.” But Trump is only a demagogue. This is not meant as a critique as much as a fact: A demagogue is “a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.” Trump does in fact appeal to popular desires, some of which are prejudices, and he tends to scorn rational argument, even eschewing debates now.
But in large measure, Trump’s detractors are eschewing rational argument as well. Instead of presenting an argument why banning all Muslims is bad policy (why it doesn’t make demographic sense, why it will likely make terrorism worse, and so on), most just exclaim, “Unbelievable!” and “that’s Hitleresque.” ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more