Russell Moore recently wrote a piece whose title I resonate with: “Why this election makes me hate the word ‘evangelical.’” As he notes, the word has become nearly meaningless in this election year. Most journalists, who should know better, use the word to mean only one segment of evangelicalism: those who are white and Republican. This is annoying, because evangelicalism has traditionally been a many splendored thing. And because evangelicalism has not been primarily about politics.
But precisely because it is a movement made up of many races and ethnicities, many worship styles, and many political persuasions, it hasn’t taken much for one group of evangelicals to become embarrassed at the unseemly views and behavior of other evangelicals.
Some evangelicals just shake their heads in despair when fellow evangelicals want to build a wall to keep out Mexicans, say we should all carry guns to defend ourselves, or insist that Donald Trump is America’s best hope. They are so embarrassed, they go out their way to say, “I’m not that type of evangelical.” Or they write blog posts and columns fervently arguing why evangelicals should not vote for Trump.
In part, they are trying to communicate to the larger world that not all evangelicals support Trump. Some really do assume Trump represents a mortal danger—more on that in a bit. But I’ve read enough posts over the past few weeks to suggest that some, at least in part, want to put some distance between themselves and these crazy relatives.
To put my cards on the table: I tend to identify with these evangelicals and their desire to change our identity: “If that’s what many evangelicals believe, and if that’s ...1