I, like many, have been puzzled by the apparent success (so far) of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate. Sure, I get it that many people are angry at the present morass that passes as a government in the United States, and there is great fear regarding the attacks on American culture by the Obama administration and the anti-Christian socialist Left. So, I do understand the appeal the Donald has for those who just want to express their outrage and fear toward politicians who care only about their personal power and are willing to sacrifice the great American heritage for the sake of gaining approval in the great Washington insiders club. But what I don't get is the willingness of so many so called "evangelical Christians" to support Mr. Trump even though he has in the recent past and in the immediate present spoken and acted against basic Christian beliefs and practices. As Pope Francis (with whom I disagree on many political views) declared in his trip to Mexico, there are certain attitudes and actions that can actually be considered as "not Christian" because they go against what the Church, the Bible, and our Lord Jesus the Christ teaches.
Here is a man who has personally benefitted financially by the suffering and weaknesses of others. As a major casino developer and owner, he has preyed upon the frailty of people who gamble compulsively. He has reaped rewards by purveying many of the things that are associated with casinos and gambling, such as pornography. His many bankruptcies, while legal, have resulted in many smaller less protected investors being ruined financially. Sure, this may be an accepted business practice, but I have known committed Christian business persons who have risked everything financially and endured great personal hardships in order to avoid a bankruptcy that would have devastated their fellow investors. And I haven't even yet mentioned the personal character traits of being mean and unforgiving to those Mr. Trump considers less worthy than himself, his prideful declaration that he doesn't need to ask God for forgiveness, his support for the Mengele-inspired Planned Parenthood, or his own reveling in his moral peccadilloes.
In short, it is highly likely that a President Trump would be a far more virulent enemy of the Christian faith than President Obama has ever been. Obama is simply misguided, whereas Mr. Trump is intently dismissive! For him any religion is just a pawn to be used to advance his goals, which consist primarily of self aggrandizement and amassing as much power over others as he can.
Now, in saying all this (and I am sure it sounds a bit harsh), I am not trying to make Mr. Trump out to be an evil man, or to say he is self-consciously trying to become a tyrannical enemy of the Church. I personally like him and find him very entertaining. I have read about some of the very kind things he has done for others, and he is reported to be a very attentive and loving father. That is all commendable, but up to this point it is clear that he is not advancing a Christian friendly view of people and the world.
It is clear that he is willing to say whatever to anyone to feed upon their fears for his own personal benefit, a practice well in line with his approach to business in general. He is not a self-reflective man. He ignores Socrates' admonition to "know thyself," and I suspect he rarely ponders the questions of what is right or wrong, and good or evil. His identity, intentions, and actions are all about one thing and one thing only: to "make the deal." (I am afraid that Mr. Trump would be quite lost in a conversation with Augustine regarding the eudaimonistic virtues of the the greatest good, with Kant regarding the deontological nuances of personal motives, or with Mill regarding the utilitarian consequences of our actions.)
First of all, even Christians are still human. As the reformer Martin Luther rightly declares, all Christians are simultaneously saint and sinner. So, it is quite intrinsically human to sacrifice personal character and beliefs in order to gain personal security and to strike back at someone or something that has hurt you, or who threatens to do so. It seems that many Christians are doing just that. They rightfully fear for the safety of this country given the threats in our world today and the Obama administration's weak response to them. They are angry at those on the political and social Left who are attacking the traditional values and cultural heritage of America, even to the point of seeking to silence evangelical, orthodox, and Catholic Christians (and political conservatives) with repressive social and legal maneuvering.
Many Americans are extremely upset with the dishonesty and corruption of the Democrat party, and the supercilious selling out and hypocrisy of the Republicans. Our government no longer serves the people, but seeks to subjugate everyone for the benefit of a select few. There is in all of us a primal desire to strike back, and Mr. Trump is telling us that he will do this for us. He riles the politically correct, stripping them of their smug veneer and revealing their Orwellian desire to dominate others. He promises that Christians will be protected from their adversaries so Christians can have a safe space in our society. He angers those who have up to this point appeared immune to having to give account for their agendas and opinions. These things are very attractive to people who feel powerless before the onslaught of despotic liberal policies and the mocking self-righteous fascism of the so-called social progressives. Mr. Trump knows this, and he knows exactly how to use it.
Secondly, many "evangelical" Christians are succumbing to the temptation that their brothers and sisters on the liberal religious Left and in the fundamentalist Right have been doing for so long (a temptation, I might add, common to Christians since the days of the Emperor Constantine in the fourth century). As the devil tried to make a deal with Jesus to get him to bow down to the devil just once in order to reclaim the world for God, so Christians are being tempted to set aside biblical principles and values in order to gain vindication and respect in our society. There is nothing wrong with seeking these things, but God's way calls us to be faithful to God's will expressed through the living Word, Jesus the Christ; and the written Word, the Bible; even at the expense of our own security and satisfaction.
When the devil tried to tempt Jesus, Jesus chose to trust that God's way of self-sacrifice would ultimately be the way that God would bring true security and true vindication. The devil offers the illusion of an easier and more immediate way, but it is a lie. If Jesus had bowed to the devil, then the world the devil promised would have been lost, not redeemed. If Christians (or any group, for that matter) place their trust in a person who is so manifestly devoid of regard for God, is this not in a real and substantial sense bowing our knee to the devil and hoping this will somehow bring about the things promised by God?
(I am not saying only a faithful Christian can be supported as a candidate for president. As the reformer Martin Luther aptly stated, it is better to be governed by "a wise Turk" rather than a foolish Christian.)
Yes, there are many threats and dangers facing Christians in the world today, and yes, American society is becoming very hostile to any who would dare name the Name of Jesus and seek to be his faithful disciple. However, any candidate who courts the votes of Christians and is not seeking to live by God's will, is not willing to admit their need for God's grace, and who shows no repentance (or even remorse) for their failings in life, is not a candidate who will seek the good and welfare of Christians when they become the President of the United States.
I would love to hear Mr. Trump declare his faith in Christ through repentance for his sins and to demonstrate a humble resolve to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So far, though, he has defiantly flaunted only rancor and hubris, with a Saul Alinsky arrow for any who question or cross him. Indeed, Mr. Trump in his present form is simply a right wing version of Barack Obama, a ruthless demagogue who has no regard for America, Christianity, and the Constitution. Like the present man in the White House, Mr. Donald Trump will govern with the aristocratic mindset that America's founders sought to leave behind in Europe, and whose subsequent waves of immigrants risked all to escape. This is definitely not a good deal!