A Wisconsin pastor who voted for President Donald Trump is growing increasingly alarmed by the unquestioning loyalty to the president from some members of his congregation.
Pastor Franz Gerber is worried that many congregants of his evangelical Praise Chapel Community church seem to idolize Trump more than they worship Jesus Christ — and the Frest County preacher is alarmed, reported The Guardian.
“It seems like there are many evangelical Christians that are willing to die on the hill of supporting the Republican president, supporting Donald J. Trump,” Gerber said, “and to me, that hill is not worth dying on. No matter who the candidate is, no matter who the individual is, to put all your hope into that individual is a dangerous road. Scripture would warn us against that.”
Forest County was among 19 in Wisconsin that flipped from Barack Obama to Trump, and the rural area has grown increasingly polarized under the Republican president.
“Many evangelical Christians feel like they have to now fight for the way things used to be or they need to fight for what they feel is biblically true,” Gerber said. “My concern is that sometimes when we get so busy fighting for certain causes we get lost in spraying fire at other people with our words to the point we lose track of what we’re called to do.”
“Ultimately,” he added, “our allegiance is to God, not to a political party, not to a figure within that political party.”
The pastor voted for Trump in 2016 because he promised to appoint conservative judges and roll back abortion rights, but Gerber said he now wishes he’d voted for a third-party candidate instead.
“I would feel that my conscience would feel maybe a little bit cleaner had I gone that route,” he said.
He’s still not sure who he’ll vote for in November.
“I tend to lean Republican, but that does not mean I could never vote Democrat,” Gerber said. “I will continue to cast my vote for who I believe is the best candidate to help the most people and will also allow me to help the most people. I will not align myself with an individual person as being the one who’s going to fix everything and make everything right.”
Gerber has already lost some congregants, who are overwhelmingly Republican, over his mild criticism of the president.
“There is such a defense of the current president by many evangelical Christians to the point of, even as a pastor, if I were to criticize and say, boy, I just didn’t like something, people would get very upset about that,” Gerber said.
One worshipper quit the church after confronting the pastor over a sermon that included a biblical story about Jesus overcoming differences among his disciples.
“This individual said, if he was the pastor, he would kick every Democrat out of this church,” Gerber said. “I listened and said it’s probably a good thing you’re not the pastor then.”