“Compromise.” That’s what Collin Hansen, editorial director at The Gospel Coalition, believes is ruining the potency of the Church’s evangelical witness in America. And much of it, he believes, comes down to a religious devotion to President Trump, despite actions and behavior that should be attracting criticism from the faith community.
“You used to think morality is important. Now, morality is not important. You used to think repentance is important,” Hansen told ABC News. “President Trump says that he’s never had anything to ask forgiveness for. I mean it is very confusing.”
Hansen asserts his belief that leading evangelical figures such as Jerry Falwell Jr. and Tony Perkins are rapidly losing credibility when they fail to point out certain elements of Trump’s character or temperament that are, shall we say, questionable.
“We’re ignoring the corruption inside the church — the moral corruption, the theological corruption, because we’re trying to protect the church against what we see as these outside threats, whether it be the gay rights lobby or abortion rights or Muslim refugees or illegal immigrants,” Hansen explained to the outlet. “Meanwhile the compromises being made on the inside have the possibility of truly destroying the credibility of American Christian witness.”
Despite conservative evangelical figures such as Tony Perkins of the Family Research council choosing to direct attention away from the personal scandal that engulfed the Trump campaign and continues to shroud his presidency, Hansen believes it important for Christian leaders to call out the Commander-in-Chief on certain things.
“An aspiring president of the United States can brag about sexually assaulting women and still claim the backing of many, if not most, of the older stalwarts in the Religious Right,” he wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post.
Then again, Hansen can understand why influential evangelical leaders are often staying silent on Trump. “I mean, it was pretty clear if you spoke out against President Trump you might face the wrath of his Twitter account,” he added.
One of those to face said wrath was President of the Ethics and Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Russell Moore. A popular figure in conservative circles, Moore is pro-life and pro-marriage. But he was not at all impressed with the Trump campaign and has become a fierce critic of the President’s nationalist rhetoric and tough stance on immigration.
Writing at the New York Times, Moore accused Trump of casting “light on the darkness of pent-up nativism and bigotry all over the country.” He pointedly added: The man on the throne in heaven is a dark-skinned, Aramaic-speaking ‘foreigner’ who is probably not all that impressed by chants of ‘Make America great again.’”
Trump’s twitter response swift, and full of venom:
.@drmoore Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2016
Hansen believes that it all comes down to compromise and courage – are leaders willing to risk their support-base by speaking out against President Trump on certain crucial issues?
“I think you’ve seen a lot of evangelical leaders, very similar to a lot of the Republican Party leaders, who privately will tell you all kinds of things that they are disturbed by, but feel beholden to a base that does not share their qualms and does not share their concerns,” he explained.
“I just think it’s one of the tragedies of our moment. People willing to throw their principles and to throw their beliefs and to throw their convictions and ultimately just the power of the Gospel aside, in the name of what seems like a kind of temporal political calculation.”