As hardcore Christian evangelical leaders continue to embrace President Donald Trump, younger churchgoers are having a harder time reconciling the words of the Bible with less-than-Christian actions of the Republican Party which supports him.
According to Newsweek, exhortations from the pulpits to support Republican positions on war and immigration are causing an exodus of some of the same young Christian voters who helped Trump get elected.
As Blake Chastain, 35, who left the church and created the podcast “Exvangelical” explained his departure: “Conservative Christianity was at odds with the teachings in the Bible.”
The reports states that the flood of young believers who are abandoning the church could be disastrous for Republicans who have become used to depending upon conservative Christian leaders to turn out votes for them.
In fact, data reveals that the effects of abandonment likely impacted the 2018 midterms.
“In the 2018 midterms, exit polls showed, white evangelicals backed Republicans by 75 to 22 percent, while the rest of the voting population favored Democrats 66 to 32 percent,” Newsweek’s Nina Burleigh writes.” But evangelicals were slightly less likely to support House Republicans in 2018 than they were to support Trump in 2016—which may have contributed to the Democrats’ pickup of House seats. Trump’s support actually declined more among white evangelical men than women. The 11-point gender gap between evangelical men and women from 2016 shrank to 6 in the midterms.”
According to Chastain, who once dreamed of joining a seminary, younger Christians are increasingly appalled at continuing attacks at marginalized communities — which they view as being uncharitable compared to the words of Jesus.
“Even people like me, a white male with a lot of societal privilege, can see that evangelical leaders are completely happy to join forces with white nationalist politicians and leaders and to give them the benefit of the doubt while they are attacking marginalized communities,” says Chastain. “And that’s just blatantly hypocritical.”
To make his point, he added, “The fact is that leaders like [Dallas megachurch leader and Trump supporter] Robert Jeffress and Jerry Falwell Jr. are blatantly power hungry and willing to make these alliances, providing a theology that supports white nationalism.”
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention — who admits he didn’t vote for Trump, — backs up Chastain, but says he is hopeful that he can hang onto younger Christians by adjusting the message to them.
“With Generation X, millennial and Generation Z evangelicals, there is a deep suspicion of any cynical use of religion for worldly purpose,” Moore explained. “So one has to motivate them differently than one would, say, the kind of television evangelist demographic that many secular people think of when they think of evangelicalism. When I am in a group of older evangelicals, my message is typically ‘Seek first the kingdom of God. Political idolatry will kill us. Let’s remember what is transcendently important.’ But when I talk to younger evangelicals, I am dealing with the opposite problem and saying one cannot simply withdraw from political life in overreaction to some dispiriting actions that have taken place.”
Christopher Maloney, 32, who not only abandoned evangelical Christianity but released a documentary film called “In God We Trump,” claims those who left the church may never return.
“People around my age and younger were already deconstructing their evangelical faith in large numbers before Trump came along,” he stated. “What the 2016 election did was accelerate what was already happening. We had begun edging toward the doors, and when evangelicals embraced Trump we bolted outside. To be honest, I don’t see a return of younger generations to the church as we know it.”
You can read the whole report here.