Prominent evangelical leader calls ‘absolute marriage of politics and faith’ in US
A prominent evangelical Christian leader from the UK has denounced the “absolute marriage of politics and faith” in the United States, pointing to the tensions it has caused under the leadership of former President Donald Trump.
White evangelical Christians were a key support base for Trump in 2016, with religious demographics supporting the president holding steady throughout his tenure in the White House. Exit polls in 2016 showed around 8 in 10 white evangelical Christians supported the former president’s first election. This trend repeated itself in 2020, with exit polls showing between 76% and 81% backing Trump. Some prominent evangelical Christian leaders in the United States have also promoted the former president’s unfounded allegations of widespread voter fraud and voiced support for Republicans who oppose President Joe Biden’s victory.
Gavin Calver, CEO of the Evangelical Alliance in the UK, spoke about the tensions this has caused for Christians like him across the Atlantic in an interview published by Christianity today Tuesday.
“The problem was that this word evangelical was tied to something over which we had very little influence and no control. In the media they were talking about evangelical Christians doing X, Y and Z like in the United States. By association, it felt like we were the same people with the same ideology and the same everything,” Calver said.
“What Trump stood for by association the media caricatured us and, with the greatest respect, often wasn’t,” he explained.
Calver pointed out that there is a close connection between religion and politics in the United States that does not exist in the same way in the United Kingdom.
“Politics is important, but it is at no time some sort of demigod in our society here in the UK. The outright marriage of politics and faith has not helped to have rational conversations” , he warned.
In additional comments emailed to NewsweekCalver pointed out that the relationship between politics and religion in the United States has been “extremely problematic”.
“Politics and faith will always be linked on some level. However, the marriage of the two so closely in recent times in the United States has been extremely problematic for all of us. Bad political decisions being rigorously defended by many Christian leaders, which I have respect for, was painful to watch,” Calver said.
“Christians should pray for and support leaders, but they should also take a stand against what is wrong. I will always be passionate about the need for evangelical Christians to fully engage in public life. However, in the end , the primary loyalty of the church must be to Jesus and not blindly given to any personality or national leader,” he said.
Many evangelical Christians in the United States have backed Trump largely because of their staunch opposition to abortion, as well as their support for installing conservative judges throughout the federal court system and their anti-LGBTQ views. . The former president allied himself with evangelical leaders during his 2016 campaign, promising to push through many of their priorities.
Prominent Democrats have also used religion to condemn Trump. During his presidential campaign, Pete Buttigieg, who is now Biden’s nominee for transportation secretary, took aim at Trump’s “porn star presidency.”
“My understanding of the scriptures is that it’s about protecting the stranger, the prisoner and the poor and this idea of welcoming,” Buttigieg said during a CNN town hall in March 2019. “That’s what that I receive in the Gospel when I am at Church.” He criticized then-Vice President Mike Pence, an evangelical conservative, for aligning himself with Trump.
“How could he afford to be the cheerleader for the porn star presidency? Buttigieg said. “Did he stop believing in scripture when he started believing in Donald Trump? I don’t know, I don’t know.”
This story has been updated with additional comments from Gavin Calver.