Why the Churches of Christ, and most evangelicals, should vote for Donald Trump

TrumpRecently Donald Trump, in campaigning for the U.S. Presidency, has made several comments that play into the fears of Americans: that no Muslims be allowed to emigrate into the United States. franklin grahamEvangelist Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham) has affirmed Trump’s stance by saying we cannot import more Muslims into our country “until the war with Islam is over.”

Why should the  group known as the Churches of Christ (Restoration Movement, fundamentalist, Bible belt) vote for Donald Trump?

The Churches of Christ split from the Christian Church in the 1840s-1860s, ostensibly over denominational hierarchy, and musical organs being introduced into the Sunday morning worship, upsetting the traditional American acapella four part harmony singing. But the unspoken reason was because the northern Christian Church did not support slavery, and the southern Churches of Christ were solidly in the Confederacy. There were some racially integrated anti-slavery churches in the David Lipscomb influenced Tennessee area, but the rest were solidly pro-slavery, and their feelings ran deep. After the Civil War there were many warnings in journals published in the Churches of Christ against racially integrating congregations because of the immorality that would be stirred up by white women listening to black preachers, and how, after the service, the black preachers would shake the white women’s hands with both their hands, and how would the white women be able to resist committing adultery with the black preachers? (Foy E. Wallace, Sr., Bible Banner)

During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s the white Churches of Christ were silent about civil rights, or even hostile. One of my Arkansas friends remembers hearing a sermon referring to “Martin Lucifer Coon” in a Church of Christ he was a member of. No tears were shed in white Churches of Christ when King was assassinated.

florida collegeIn the one college associated with the non-institutional wing of the churches of Christ in Tampa, Florida, there was a ban against admitting black non-athlete students until 1972, mainly because of one major contributor to the college.

So the (white) Churches of Christ should vote for Donald Trump because they have always been afraid of dark skinned people. Donald Trump will lead the nation in protecting, defending, drone striking, water boarding, and bombing dark skinned people with foreign religions who threaten to attack us.

swim poolStatistically the danger of being attacked by a Muslim extremist is far less than the danger of dying in a car crash, drowning in a backyard swimming pool, accidentally shooting oneself with a handgun, or even being shot by an American police officer. But none of those things are popular things to campaign against, or be elected because of. Can you imagine a presidential platform including the banning of backyard swimming pools?

FowlerFaithThe Churches of Christ are solidly within James Fowler’s Stage 3 Faith. Stage 3 is characterized by an allegiance to one’s group. The group or church holds one’s faith. If I am in Stage 3 Faith I am not strong enough to hold onto my faith by myself, so I hold onto my church, who holds onto my faith for me. They prop me up, support me and hold me safe. Departing from my church would be terrifying, because I would fall apart. But Stage 3 is the most xenophobic (fear of other races) of stages of Faith. My group is good, all other groups are inferior, or if I am even more insecure, all other groups are evil, and bound for hellfire damnation. Jesus warned against this: “Why do you pick the sawdust out of your brother’s eye, when you have a plank in your own eye?” And the story of the Good Samaritan. The people of Jesus’ day hated the Samaritans because they were half-breed Jews. They hated them more than they hated the Romans who had conquered them.

People in Stage 3, and this includes the Churches of Christ (and Franklin Graham, who is Baptist), have great difficulty viewing life from another group’s point of view. If I were in Stage 3 Faith, it would be very difficult for me to view life from the point of view of an Afghani, a Palestinian or a Pakistani. To be abysmally dirt poor and uneducated, to read in the newspapers about American drones flying in and shooting my people. Surely I would believe the Americans are the out group, the enemy, the dangerous giant.

stalin

Joseph Stalin

People in Stage 3 have little interest in negotiation, mediation and talking through something. If I am in Stage 3 I am frightened and I want immediate relief. I want to feel that my group is strong and powerful, superior and maybe even ruthless.

2. The Churches of Christ have been teaching “spare the rod and spoil the child” for decades. They do not focus on “of such are the kingdom of heaven” when talking about children (unless they are arguing against infant baptism). They see children as a source of disobedience, and the rod or spanking paddle is the instrument that will give them well behaved children. They are proud when they are harsh and their children are well behaved. Force, threats and fear are the primary motivators of their child rearing, and so why shouldn’t they look to force, threats and fear as the primary instruments of diplomacy.

3. The Churches of Christ, as all blue collar religions in America, are strongly influenced by the military industrial complex of America. As long as transportation of goods is cheap, then we will continue to lose our manufacturing industries to countries that pay ten cents per hour for labor. What is left are sales jobs, high tech, healthcare, teaching, service industries, construction and military jobs. Military and military related industries are 15% of the economy. For blue collar workers it is 20% or more of their employers. So there is no discussion of conscientious objection in these blue collar churches. They fly the American flag out in front of their church buildings, as if to saallah is satan signy: we are part of the military industrial complex, we pray for victory in all the wars that the United States fights, we do not question the morality of our leaders, we are Stage 3 Faith, and the United States military holds our faith.

For these reasons, the Churches of Christ, and most evangelicals, should
vote for the zenophobia of Donald Trump.

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About Mark

I was raised in the conservative non-institutional churches of Christ and attended Florida College in Tampa, Florida. I served as a minister for 8 years in the non-institutional churches of Christ, and 4 years at a mainline church of Christ in Vermont.
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5 Responses to Why the Churches of Christ, and most evangelicals, should vote for Donald Trump

  1. BH says:

    Someone once said that the national religion of the United States is “Americanism”. The country is the object of reverence and worship. If that is the case Americans are Stage 3 about their own country.

    I read some of your links and noticed that many were opposed to opposing segregation because that would be “social gospel”. Preach against exploiting the poor is wrong because it is “social gospel”. Speak against any ill of society and it is “social gospel”. My guess is that “social gospel” is inserted in place of “If we talk about this problem, especially where there is no black and white answer from the Bible about it, we may make a lot of folks mad, and they won’t put money in the collection plate” because it iwould be embarrassing to admit the truth. And it may be embarrasing to admit the Bible just may not have answers to very serious and severe problems. Saying “Problems with society will change when people change their hearts” only goes so far. They can’t change their hearts if there is no guidance telling them what they should change to.

    Contrary to popular belief, religions do not often create the values of the societies they are in but actually go along with the values already existing and/or co-opt them as their own. For example, for most of our history homosexuality and abortion on demand were considered great wrongs. Now that society has changed its view about these issues you are not hearing as much about them and some churches are letting it be a non-issue. .

  2. Mark says:

    Yes, the hard line Churches of Christ, especially the non-institutional (antis) were adamantly opposed to the “social gospel” in the late 1960s and 1970s. They believed that individuals had to help the poor, not the church. I remember my parents were much more equality minded than my grandmother. (“They hired a Negro nurse at the hospital in Mobile!” –She wasn’t against it. It was just something that needed to be mentioned in her letter to us in 1970.) My father moved to South Africa to be a missionary for the Churches of Christ. He was not very shocked at the segregation of apartheid, because he has spent a lot of time in the deep southern United States in the 1930s and 1940s. He did, however, quietly break the apartheid laws in South Africa, having black preachers in our home for tea and meals. We had black servants at slightly above the market rate. My father became a small loan officer, loaning black people money for their large expensive funerals. He didn’t charge interest, but he typed up the loan agreements and made them sign, and made a big deal about writing down the times they paid. This was something not available to them otherwise. He kept a wheelchair bound man in his garage for years, changing his dressings when he had an abscess on his leg.
    But strongly opposed to the social gospel! Pro-Vietnam War, conservative Republican, having served in the military just after WW2. The Churches of Christ were tailor made to serve conservative white Americans.

    • garycummings says:

      Yes the political default for the Churches of Christ is right-wing Republicanism, and Trump in particular.
      Too tired to say much else. I was a conscientious objector in the Vietnam War, and my worst enemy was the Church of Christ, of which I was a member and minister.

  3. Gary says:

    Just a historical side note- Ira Y. Rice, Jr., the arch-conservative for several decades in mid 20th century Churches of Christ was a very early advocate of racial equality. He took an uncompromising stand against racial discrimination and practised equality personally to the point of travelling and sharing meals and hotel rooms with black colleagues. That sounds unremarkable now but was pretty remarkable in the 1940’s and 1950’s among southern Churches of Christ. Give the devil his due!

    • Ira Y. Rice was one of the few in the COC to be for racial equality. He was never a pope like Ruell Lemmons, who said “Would you let your sister marry one?” The bulk, 99% of preachers and elders were racists. A preacher had to be “sound” on race to be hired up to the 70’s and 80’s.

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