Trump is the president elect. White evangelical Christians supported him and voted for him. They justified his actions, defended him and endorsed him as the Christian candidate. Mainly because he said he’ll overturn abortion laws. Also because he is a white man who is an expert manipulator and a narcissist.
Over the last few days I’ve seen a number of Christians reject evangelical as their label. They can no longer align themselves with a Christian culture which is misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, bigoted, self-aggrandising and seemingly incapable of self-reflection.
Bill and Beni Johnson are the leaders of Bethel, a globally known megachurch, famous for its worship songs and healing ministry. Bill Johnson took to Facebook this week to justify why he and his wife had voted for Donald Trump. Using the Bible. Bill Johnson-ology (a new brand of theology) is very self-esteem oriented… Poor people lose self-esteem if the state helps them. Rich people lose self-esteem if they are taxed because it robs them of their choice to show compassion. Abortion also features highly (point 1) of Bill Johnson-ology. It also involves a whole load of double standards where Hilary Clinton’s behaviour is unforgiveable, but Donald Trump’s is forgiveable. Immigrants should not be helped, because citizens come first and actually Donald Trump is like Jesus because both of them suffered for not being politically correct.
After reading this, I then attended an Evangelical Alliance (EA) event in London. It is 170 years old. In its infancy, the EA had many disagreements, including Britain refusing to allow slave owners to join the alliance, standing against some Christians and their organisations in the US.
The event shared lots of things the EA is doing. Its mission, evangelism, work with public leadership and its advocacy. Yet, no one mentioned that evangelical is quick becoming a byword for bigot, racist and misogynist. The UK and US media are telling the world that evangelicals voted in Trump. Because we did. Evangelical is synonymous with TRUMP VOTER. And the EA doesn’t seem to realise what this means for their alliance or for the future of evangelicalism. It doesn’t matter that US evangelicalism is different to that within the UK, because that’s a complex nuance and a false dichotomy. Especially when so many evangelicals voted Brexit because they believe the EU is about to usher in the antichrist because they read it in a Left Behind novel or something.
I wish I could make this my Farewell to evangelicalism. But I can’t.
I love Jesus. I would be dead without Jesus. And I love Jesus in an evangelical, unapologetic, charismatic, raise your hands to the sky and sing your lungs out kind of way. I love the Bible and think it’s inspired by God and I believe in capital-T Truth. I live in the tension of being a woman liberated by God while reading Bible passages about women oppressed by that same God. And I don’t want to just explain it away by making it say what I want it to say. I raise my kids to know that Jesus saves and my daughter got baptised in the sea and I tell them that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, whilst also trying to equip them to overcome the toxicity of evangelical culture.
Why does Bill Johnson get to maintain the label evangelical, when he’s misrepresenting the Bible so horrifically? When he’s doing such great violence to sacred Scripture? Why do sexual abuse apologists, racists and bigots get to keep the label evangelical, when they’re defiling God’s temple just the same as the market sellers Jesus chased out with a whip?
Evangelical culture left me vulnerable to abuse. Cultural constructs of forgiveness, submission, consent and the status of women left me ill-equipped to deal with male violence. And consequently a man almost killed my child and drove me close to suicide. But Jesus saved me and He saved me back into the evangelical church. So I’m not leaving, because this is my home.
“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Wake up Church, wake up Evangelical Alliance, wake up all you Christians.
Idolatry and the love of power wreak destruction in the holy places of God. Our so-called brothers and sisters (oh God, how I weep that it was our sisters too) have elected an anti-Christ man to the most powerful office on earth. Now is not the time for diplomacy, for platitudes or misrepresenting Trump’s insincere speech as “gracious and moderate”. 170 years ago, the leaders of the UK evangelical alliance stood against the US church in their perpetration of slavery and today we must stand against them once again. For if we do not, we are culpable as bigots, racists and sexual abuse apologists.