Writing for the conservative anti-Trump site The Bulwark, Napp Nazworth warned that the president is playing the role of “Pastor-in-Chief” — and weaponizing religion in a way that poses a threat to the American political system.
“Earlier this month, President Trump led an evangelical religious revival,” wrote Nazworth, a former writer at the Christian Post who left as the evangelical publication fell in with the president. “His reelection, Trump insisted, is necessary to ‘renew faith and family as the center of American life.’ This faith is the ‘true foundation of American life,’ and by voting for Trump, Trump claimed, ‘we will ensure that our country forever and always remains one people, one family, and one glorious nation under God.’ By contrast, Trump described his political opponents as the enemies of God. ‘Our opponents want … to impose an extreme antireligious socialist agenda,’ he explained.”
“This sermon/stump-speech was attended by about 5,000 evangelicals at El Rey Jesús church as part of the announcement of the formation of ‘Evangelicals for Trump,'” wrote Nazworth. “Before the speech, religious leaders prayed for the president and echoed the belief that Trump is leading a religious revival in his 2020 reelection campaign. ‘Use him to change the spiritual atmosphere of this nation,’ Pastor Guillermo Maldonado petitioned the Almighty.”
All of this, warned Nazworth, is “dangerous territory.”
“Political leaders who believe they were chosen by God for a divine purpose tend toward unreasonableness, which is a bad trait for any type of leader, in any context — but is a particular affront within a government designed to carry out a deliberative form of democracy,” wrote Nazworth. “Plus, while a religion yoked to political power can bring temporary (and only temporal) benefits to its members, political alliances are, by nature, fleeting. Which is to say that a politicized religion necessarily winds up subjugating its relation to eternal things in the pursuit of proximity to worldly power. As a prominent member of the Roman Empire’s IRS once put it, ‘No one can serve two masters.'”
“Since taking office, we’ve seen Trump separate immigrant children from their families; make dramatic cuts to the refugee program that helped many, including Christians, fleeing persecution; fail to clearly denounce the racists in Charlottesville; write hush money checks to a porn star while lying about it for months and only coming clean after he knew he was caught; betray allies in Syria, leading to a Turkish invasion that displaced 180,000 people, including 80,000 children and some of the remaining few Christian communities in the region; and use the levers of government power to attempt to bribe the president of Ukraine to aid his reelection campaign,” wrote Nazworth. And yet, evangelicals now claim all of this is godly behavior.
“Eventually, ‘Evangelicals for Trump’ and the Christian Post will learn the same lesson. Tying fortunes to a political leader can bring gains, in the short term. But all worldly things come to an end. This fact, combined with the ideas of Christ’s love for us and the Lord’s Divine Mercy, are at the beating heart of the Christian faith,” concluded Nazworth. “The biggest threat to Christians is having their faith corrupted from within. For what shall it profit the faith, if it shall gain the presidency, but lose its soul?”
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