For Christian voters, navigating the waters of politics during an election season can pose challenges, and it requires discernment. In recent months, religious leaders have voiced their political opinions. What should Christian voters keep in mind when considering politics and statements made by religious leaders? Christianity Today Editor Mark Galli addresses this topic in his piece “How Trump Tempts Us.”
“Three devout Christians made statements last week that point to the challenge for evangelicals as we step into the muddy waters of another electoral season,” Galli writes. “The first comes from Pope Francis. Responding to Donald Trump’s views on illegal immigration from our southern border, he said that anyone who wants to build a wall is not ‘Christian,’” Galli says.
While Pope Francis has voiced his concerns about Donald Trump, other religious leaders have gone on to provide support for Trump, showing the political divide that can exist among religious leaders—even within the same denomination—during an election season.
The other leader Galli mentions is Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, who recently endorsed Donald Trump. In explanation, Falwell said,
I do not believe, however, that when Jesus said “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” that he meant we should elect only someone who would make a good Sunday School teacher or pastor. When we step into our role as citizens, we need to elect the most experienced and capable leaders.
Falwell is not the only evangelical leader to voice his personal opinion on Trump.
“Pastor Mark Burns, a Christian television entrepreneur based in South Carolina, has endorsed Trump. Before meeting him, he was ‘full of apprehension,’ but he said that he ‘really wanted to hear the man's heart,’” Galli says.
With Christian leaders holding differing views on candidates, can average Christian voters hope for clarity by the time they enter the voting booth? How should Christian voters respond with discernment when considering a candidate?
We are wiser politically to not take a politician’s word or read his “heart,” no matter how sincere he or she seems. Politics in the end is about effective action, which come about through specific policies. We should place our trust not so much in leaders who seem trustworthy as those whose actions prove they are.
You can read Galli’s full piece here.
For guidance on how churches and church leaders can navigate political issues while avoiding risk, see Politics and the Church.
Elizabeth Jackson is the editorial intern for Church Law & Tax.
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