I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all Godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. – 1 Timothy 2-4
So is 1 Timothy politically correct now? That’s kind of what Donald Trump said to a group of Evangelical Christian leaders Tuesday during his day-long outreach effort to this crucial, Republican voting bloc:
— E.W. Jackson (@ewjacksonsr) June 21, 2016
“Some of the people are saying ‘let’s pray for our leaders.’ I said, ‘You can pray for your leaders, and I agree with that, pray for everyone. But what you really have to do is pray to get everyone out to vote for one specific person, We can’t be politically correct and say we pray for all of our leaders because all of your leaders are selling Christianity down the tubes and selling evangelicals down the tubes and it is a very bad thing that is happening.”
OK, it’s not very biblical, but he has a point, doesn’t he?
If we are to ask for divine intervention in the 2016 campaign, should Christians spread their petitions equally between the woman who wants to expand federal funding for abortion on demand and the man who has presented a serious list of Supreme Court nominees who could bolster the waning number of conservatives on that bench?
Obviously, when delivering a message to Christian leaders, contradicting centuries of understanding with regard to prayers offered up to our secular leaders is going to raise some eyebrows. And, Trump certainly did that:
For Donald Trump to suggest to Christians that praying for all leaders would be politically correct is contrary to direct commands of the Bible. And don’t give me the nonsense of saying Trump did say to pray for everyone. He was reflecting what others said and twisted it. He twisted it to a self-serving request to pray for him. “But what you really have to do is pray to get everyone out to vote for one specific person,” Trump said.
No. That is flat out wrong and not Biblical. There is no commandment in the Bible to pray for everyone to get out to vote. There is an explicit commandment to pray for our leaders, all of whom are divinely appointed for one reason or another.
David French at NRO begged Evangelicals to not be enticed by Trump’s wooing ways:
This is a grave mistake. American Evangelical Christianity does not exist for the purpose of placing one or two decent judges on the Supreme Court. It — along with its Catholic and Orthodox counterparts — represents the body of Christ on this earth. It is a flawed vessel, to be sure, but its moral witness is still of incalculable worth. Despite the media’s grotesque caricatures, American Evangelicals (and Mormons) are the nation’s most generous citizens, giving their time and money to the poorest and most vulnerable of their fellow citizens at a rate that puts most other communities to shame. They are among the leaders in seeking true racial reconciliation, with each of the leading denominations dedicating countless hours and resources to bridging the cavernous historical divides that persist. Pentecostal churches are often our nation’s most diverse, places where men and women of every race and ethnicity unite in joyous worship.
Michael Farris at Christian Post goes so far as to say that the interaction between Trump and the Evangelical leaders signals the “end of the Christian right”:
Today, a candidate whose worldview is greed and whose god is his appetites (Philippians 3) is being tacitly endorsed by this throng.
They are saying we are Republicans no matter what the candidate believes and no matter how vile and unrepentant his character.
They are not a phalanx of God’s prophets confronting a wicked leader, this is a parade of elephants.
In 1980 I believed that Christians could dramatically influence politics. Today, we see politics fully influencing a thousand Christian leaders.
This is a day of mourning.
And the reaction continued…
— Jennifer 'pro-reality' Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) June 21, 2016
Literally a framed pic on the wall of the candidate and a porn star, as a major evangelical leader endorses him. pic.twitter.com/ErYG57zcFb
— Nathan Lino (@nathanlino) June 21, 2016
But, remarkably, the Washington Post of all publications, actually provided a very positive write-up of Trump’s interaction with the Christian leaders:
Donald Trump won a standing ovation from hundreds of Christian conservatives who came to New York City on Tuesday with a somewhat skeptical but willing attitude toward a man who has divided their group with comments on women, immigrants and Islam. In his comments, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee said he would end the decades-old ban on tax-exempt groups’ — including churches — politicking, called religious liberty “the No. 1 question,” and promised to appoint antiabortion Supreme Court justices.
“I think maybe that will be my greatest contribution to Christianity — and other religions — is to allow you, when you talk religious liberty, to go and speak openly, and if you like somebody or want somebody to represent you, you should have the right to do it,” Trump said. A ban was put in place by President Lyndon Johnson on tax-exempt groups making explicit political endorsements. Religious leaders in America today, Trump said, “are petrified.”
One thing is undeniable: Trump is not our next president without the conservative Christian vote. Is a reinterpretation of biblical teachings really the way to earn it?