Evangelicals overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump, 80-15% according to exit polls, helping to put him inside the White House. That’s the most they have voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 2004, when they overwhelmingly chose George W. Bush by a margin of 78-21 percent.
But after seven months in office, there are signs of a “come-to-Jesus” moment among some Christian conservatives.
“Mega Church” leader, and member of Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board, A.R. Bernard, recently became the first member to quit the board.
“ … I agreed to serve on the President’s Evangelical Advisory Board. However, it became obvious that there was a deepening conflict in values between myself and the administration,” wrote the pastor this Friday.
This was followed by yesterday’s shocking announcement that some graduates of Liberty University, one of the nation’s most influential evangelical Christian institutions, are preparing to return their diplomas.
The Lynchburg, Virginia school, founded by the Moral Majority’s Jerry Falwell, is now run by his son, Jerry Falwell Jr., a staunch supporter of Donald Trump.
The graduates are protesting Falwell’s ongoing support for Trump. They began organizing after Trump’s divisive remarks about the deadly white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Va.
Chris Gaumer, a former Student Government Association president and 2006 graduate, said it was an easy decision.
“I’m sending my diploma back because the president of the United States is defending Nazis and white supremacists,” Gaumer said. “And in defending the president’s comments, Jerry Falwell Jr. is making himself and, it seems to me, the university he represents, complicit.”
For Doug Johnson Hatlem, a 1999 graduate now working as a Mennonite pastor in Ontario, Canada, Charlottesville feels like a tipping point for many alumni who have been worried about the university’s association with Trump.
“It really is a watershed moment to have people openly chanting Nazi chants … holding white supremacist signs, and carrying weapons along with all of that, and killing somebody, injuring many in the process,” he said. “For there not to be an unconditional condemnation of that kind of action and behavior is just completely anathema.”
Are these isolated events among Christian conservatives or the beginning of something much bigger … the asking for forgiveness and repentance?
Time will tell.
Photo | esquire.com