Evangelicals who support President Donald Trump are unwittingly perpetuating the “slaveholder religion” of their forefathers, declares Christian activist Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove in a controversial interview with Religion News Service (RNS).
Slaveholders who called themselves Christians had a series of justifications for owning slaves, Wilson-Hartgrove observes, similar to evangelicals’ justification of Trump’s “extremism.”
“I feel like almost every week, there’s something in this administration that leads the media to ask, ‘Will Trump’s faith advisors still stand by him in the face of this allegation, or this reality?’ And we have seen that the answer is yes,” Wilson-Hartgrove said.
“There is no moral failing or questionable activity that is going to cause people who call themselves evangelical Christians and who are backing him to turn away,” he added.
It is curious that Wilson-Hartgrove, who also identifies as an evangelical Christian, has no moral qualms about comparing Trump supporters to slave-owners without adducing any evidence to corroborate such surprising equivalency.
One must assume that on referring to Trump’s “moral failings” and “questionable activities,” Wilson-Hartgrove is alluding to recent scandals involving an alleged 2006 relationship with porn star Stormy Daniels.
Supposing that the allegations are true, Wilson-Hartgrove apparently believes that evangelicals should stop supporting or advising the president because he is guilty of the sin of adultery. This, in turn, suggests that in his mind, true Christians should only support political leaders who lead morally immaculate lives—a remarkably small group.
To date, no Christian leader has attempted to justify the president’s purported sexual misconduct, but they have apparently believed that there was little to be gained by cutting off relations with Mr. Trump for personal sins he may have committed before running for office.
Oddly, in his insistence that evangelicals should ostracize Trump in the name of Christianity, Wilson-Hartgrove never mentions any of Trump’s actual policies or political decisions but speaks only of his past “moral failings,” which seems a strange way to evaluate the presidency or its effect on the nation.
Trump’s political stance on issues that are generally considered important to Christians—such as religious freedom and the right to life—seem to carry little weight in Wilson-Hartgrove’s vilification of his brother evangelicals, whom he disparagingly calls “Trumpvangelicals.”
Yet if evangelicals had supported Hillary Clinton for the presidency, as Wilson-Hartgrove seems to think they should have, they would have been backing a candidate who openly supported abortion on demand and wished to run roughshod over religious freedom. Would not this have been a “slaveholder religion” of a far more sinister strain?
In carrying on the “slaveholder” theme, Wilson-Hartgrove continually harkens back to race.
It has been the author’s contention that racism was the overriding cause of Donald Trump’s election to the White House, fueled by white anger after eight years of Obama.
“It’s absolutely the case we couldn’t have imagined Donald Trump becoming president without first having an African-American president,” Wilson-Hartgrove said shortly after the 2016 election.
“No one wants to think of themselves as racist. So they say the problem was not that Obama was black but that he was liberal, which to them equals immoral and ungodly,” Wilson-Hartgrove said. Yet in the final analysis, “it had everything to do with race.”
It is hard to understand how President Obama got elected in the first place, or reelected four years later, if racism were the driving force behind the voting choices of half the U.S. population, but such considerations seem irrelevant to the narrative that Wilson-Hartgrove wishes to propose.
The RNS column running the interview with Mr. Wilson-Hartgrove is appropriately titled “Flunking Sainthood.”
While Jesus asked many things of his followers, setting the bar so high as to command them to be perfect as their heavenly Father is perfect, he notably also counseled them to remove the plank in their own eye before attempting to take the speck from their neighbor’s.
With this in mind, perhaps Mr. Wilson-Hartgrove should be a little more circumspect in his condemnation of his brother evangelicals and their motives for supporting the president—at least if he intends to do so in the name of Jesus.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome