I was treated to a theological gem many years ago that I never forgot and that has become more
relevant to me over time. It was, “All sin goes back to, ‘I want to be somebody’”. Think about it!
Having been invested in both God’s and Caesar’s worlds as a pastor and elected public servant,
and having observed the Confessing Church periodically opting for morality over the unmerited
grace of God, I have become alert to political manipulation. For the Church of Jesus Christ,
political manipulation boils down to two inherent flaws – the rejection of Jesus’ insistence that
true faith demands death to self (Luke 9:23-25) and a long history of the Church looking to its
pastors in place of God.
Apostasy in modern American Christianity may have begun publicly in earnest with Spiro
Agnew, Richard Nixon’s VP, who popularized the slogan, “The Silent Majority”, referring to
conservative, middle-class, white American voters. Rev. Jerry Falwell of Thomas Road Baptist
Church in Lynchburg, VA, picked up the theme in 1979 as the “Moral Majority”, though not so
silent and likely not so moral. While its official lifespan was a mere 10 years, its impact on the
American public has been enormous.
From the Moral Majority to Trumpism:
Beyond the conflicting implication that Evangelical Christians have an exclusive handle on
morality, we are now faced with the challenge of justifying hatred of neighbor in violation of the
teaching of Jesus. Emerging in a form referred to as “Trumpism”, a movement quite aside from
its famous standard-bearer, the Moral Majority has taken to the streets.
We in the evangelical community stand accused of losing sight of our divine heritage of
unmerited grace. This theocratic model is a rejection of the precepts of Jesus’ Sermon on the
Mount (Matt 5-7), the call for an unnatural lifestyle of love of neighbor emanating first from love
of God. Love becomes impossible in the face of judgment of OPS – “other people’s sin”.
Culture of fear:
The rise of Trumpism, aside from the provocative antics of its most prominent political
spokesperson, is the logical extension of the Moral Majority. It has surfaced as a culture of fear
within a Christian community that claims to believe that, “Perfect love drives out fear” (1 Jn
4:18). We somehow have lost sight of the inherent power of unconditional love. That things are
becoming tougher to control in the public square should instead point us to the cross.
The failure of the Moral Majority coalition to have grasped the degree of residual evil in our own
lives would have rendered them blind as to the likely direction their movement would take
America. Christian moral attributes are one thing, but once those are embraced as political
objectives, they fail to take hold without violence.
Is there hope on the horizon? Hope will stand the test of time even after religion has done its