Dear American Evangelicals,
We are following the run up to your presidential election with concern and, at times, amazement. As Donald Trump has gone on his way, turning being a rank outsider into political currency, we have been stunned by the numbers of evangelicals who are openly and even enthusiastically supporting him. I include dear personal friends in this. As matters seem to have come to a head (or yet another head?!) I thought I would put in my two pennyworth. You ought to know that our pennies are not worth very much at the moment...
It was not surprising to read a very swift piece from Rachel Held Evans regarding the latest Trumperies. Her reaction was strong, articulate, and very predictable, given her stable. I find it more interesting when conservatives speak out. This piece from Louis Kinsey, Church of Scotland Minister, a strong evangelical voice, is just one insight into how the rest of the Christian world views the tendency for evangelicals in the USA to support Mr Trump. I find it particularly powerful precisely because I have found myself on the opposite side to Louis in some of our recent important domestic political questions! (Please note, therefore, that I am not presuming or de facto coopting his agreement to what follows...)
Most of us, long before this latest revelation - which - let's face it - comes as no surprise at all, does it? be honest now! - were already utterly appalled by the man, for his attitude to women and his attitude to... people. Just the way he speaks about his damned wall ought to be enough in and of itself.
We have no right to speak, of course. Let alone vote, or try to interfere. But, as you guys are quite fond of saying, the USA is the most powerful country in the world; that is true, and the whole world will have to live with the consequences of your vote. Some of you even regard the USA's place in the world as God-given - which at one level, it is. But once you start to use the langauge of "God's man for the job" and the like, you elevate the question beyond the bounds of normal democracy. Once you use that kind of language, you make the question global and ecclesiastical - anyone who truly knows God and loves his word is just as entitled to an opinion about what He is doing in the world today as the United Statesian voters who will decide your election.
We may be able to understand some of your antipathy to Clinton. We are not blind to the issues that trouble you about the Democratic party, or your "Washington elite". We have similar feelings of deep division and discontent here. But when some of you move from (at most) grudging support for the "least worst" candidate in Trump, to embracing him enthusiastically as God's choice, the right man for the hour etc, we are absolutely gobsmacked. We are really left wondering if we are on the same page spiritually at all. I guess we all have blindspots, and the cultural gulf between British and American conservative evangelicals has been a mighty chasm for years, but this time the sense of unity and fellowship is getting very strained indeed.
We love you and are grateful for you. Personally, when I think of US evangelicals I think first of world evangelisation: if the 19th century was the great age of British missions, the 20th was the time of the American missionary, and your commitment, giving, vision and zeal have been amazing. I know many of you through friendships forged in Brazil. But at so many other levels we share so much; preaching and publishing, thinking and interacting - we owe you a great deal. We are family.
And as family, as brothers and sisters, we ask you: please think very hard before you vote for this man. You are concerned about the future of your country, and rightly so. Our nations would appear to be under the judgement of God, and for so many reasons. Our concern is that a President Trump would only add fuel to that particular fire - that he is cause for judgement, not a Saviour from it. Or even that he IS an aspect of the judgement.
We know you have a most unenviable choice of candidates, we know it isn't easy. It is just that many, many of us on the outside think that seeing Mrs Clinton as "least worst" is not rocket science. It is unfortunate that the choice appears to be binary - either Hillary or Donald, either unborn babies or Mexicans. But as someone has put it, if Trump hates so many who are alive, why would anyone think he really loves those who are unborn? He is appealing to the politics of hate, and that cannot have good fruit.
As you approach the election, please be assured of our prayers and love. I hope we can at least hold the family together, even when the world is going to hell in a handcart.
Our Father will, anyway! He knows those who are his. There I can rest!