THE GREAT EVANGELICAL DISASTER

CAL THOMAS

For release: 11/28/23

Evangelicals conforming to the world

By Cal Thomas

Tribune Content Agency

More than 150 Iowa “faith leaders” have announced they are supporting Donald Trump in the state’s forthcoming caucuses. At the same time, Bob Vander Plaats, an influential Iowa evangelical leader, is supporting Ron DeSantis. Predictably, Donald Trump slammed Vander Plaats as a “scammer.” You stay classy, Donald.

Could this suggest a division within evangelical circles?

These endorsements came days before the release of Tim Alberta’s book “The Kingdom, The Power, And the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism.” Alberta, a writer for The Atlantic and other publications, and an evangelical Christian, quotes Donald Trump as saying during the 2016 race that those Christians who supported Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for president were “so-called Christians” and “real pieces of s—t.”

When that gets around to those who have had blind faith in Trump, seemingly more than the faith and trust they are commanded to put in the God they claim to worship, will this break the super glue-like attachment so many evangelicals have for Trump? Will they continue to  dismiss his un-Christian language and behavior? Recall that Trump bragged he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York City and his supporters would not leave him.

Alberta spent four years embedded in evangelical churches and conservative political circles, persuading many to talk about the reasons they continue to support Trump. The twisting of Scripture – “God has used bad people in the past to do His will” — is just one of many rationalizations Alberta heard.

In one of many ironic and laughable statements, Alberta quotes Trump responding to Russell Moore, who resigned from a top position in the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, because he opposed Trump’s candidacy in 2016: “(Moore is) a terrible representative of Evangelicals … a nasty guy with no heart!” Look who’s talking.

The book is an indictment of those who have diluted their faith with the cold brew of politics. Have they forgotten the statement by Jesus: “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36) and what James wrote: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4). How do Trump’s evangelical supporters rationalize those statements? They can’t so they ignore them or choose other verses they can twist to wrongly justify the unjustifiable.

Too many have exchanged the power that comes with faith for temporal power that quickly fades away.

I recall what Franklin Graham said after Trump won the 2016 election: ”God showed up.” I wondered at the time if God only showed up when Republicans win elections, but apparently is on vacation when Democrats win. It is the modern form of idol worship – specifically condemned throughout Scripture (including the First Commandment). When King David ruled over Israel he wrote: “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing…” (Psalm 146:3-4)

There is considerable harm being done by evangelicals because of their devotion to Trump. What Christians call their “witness” to others is contributing to more unbelief, especially among younger people, who increasingly respond “none” when asked about their religious faith. A recent Associated Press headline said: “America’s nonreligious are a growing, diverse phenomenon. They really don’t like organized religion.”

Could one explanation be that so many evangelicals are not obeying the commands of Jesus which include, “love your enemy” and other admonitions contrary to much of modern politics?

Tim Alberta’s book is not a screed, rather a revelation of how many biblical illiterates exist in the evangelical fold. One can be for Donald Trump, just don’t mix him up with the kingdom of that other world, or the One who is truly “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”

Readers may email Cal Thomas at [email protected]. Look for Cal Thomas’ latest book “A Watchman in the Night: What I’ve Seen Over 50 Years Reporting on America” (HumanixBooks).

(C) 2023 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

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10 Comments

  1. Tom Schmidt on November 28, 2023 at 2:32 pm

    Amen, Cal. As a devout evangelical Christian, I had always viewed Trump with suspicion. When I read about various outrages in Trumpworld (violence at his rallies, grabbing women’s privates, the insurrection, the lies perpetrated by Fox (Faux?) News on his behalf resulting in a 787m settlement, calling to terminate the Constitution, my only surprise was the way so many people who claim the name of our Savior in reality worship the orange Jesus.

    For most of our history, whether or not worldlings agreed with our vision of such, Christians were regarded as the voice of sanity in our our culture. After the insurrection (recently ruled by that judge), Christians are being seen as perpetrators of such madness, surrendering moral authority for a cynical power grab. We need a clear recognition of Trump as a lawless one (2 Thessalonians 2) lacking any sense of accountability to any authority outside himself, and deserving of no place in respectable society, either church or state.



  2. Ray Androne on November 28, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    Dear Cal: I have been a reader of your columns for over 50 years. I am 74 years old and over the decades I have benefited from your insight and your intelligence, but today as a devout Orthodox Christian, I have something to say about your November 27 column, the Great Evangelical Disaster. In your piece you make several Biblical quotes to denigrate Evangelicals who support Trump, but you left out some Christian tenets which we should all live by. One being that we are all sinners, you, me, Trump, the Pope, everyone. Secondly, except for a small number of monks, the vast majority of Christians live in this world while aspiring to the next world. Jesus asked us many times through his Biblical parables to help the people of THIS world by serving the poor and sharing our wealth. You come off as trying to be holier than thou by ignoring the simple fact that nearly all of our decisions as voters are about THIS WORLD. Your attack on Trump as inappropriate for a Christian voter is stated by you as: “Will they continue to dismiss his un-Christian language and behavior?” I abhor Trump’s foul language, his mean attacks on others and his ridiculous bragging. But, he is a sinner as are all our former Presidents. Let’s take a walk down memory lane: Bill Clinton had his way with a young intern in the Oval Office and was reputed to be unfaithful to Hillary many times. George W. read the Bible every day, but he started a war with Iraq that resulted in thousands of Americans dead and mutilated, and that war killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. As a voter and a Christian, I would take bad language and nastiness over hundreds of thousands of deaths any day. I know W meant well, but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Obama lied to Americans when he said “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, and if you like your plan, you can keep your plan”. Tens of millions of Americans had to totally revamp their healthcare due to Obamacare losing coverage they liked and paying more. Meanwhile good old Uncle joe Biden was selling out the American people by accepting millions in bribes from Ukraine, Romania and our enemies in China and Russia. I firmly see Trump’s sins as less than any of these presidents. And Trump brought us a secure border, low inflation, strong economic growth, energy independence AND NO NEW WARS! MY VOTING FOR TRUMP IN NO WAY TAKES MY EYE OFF THE NEXT WORLD, IT MERELY MAKES THIS WORLD A BETTER PLACE.
    And you tend to dismiss as rationalization that God useS bad men to do good things. The best example is King David, who you quoted. King David lusted for the married Bathsheba so he sent her husband,Uriah, on a suicide mission. Uriah was killed and David took Bathsheba. I view David’s sin as also a greater sin than the meanness and language of Trump.
    Secondly, your dependence on Tim Alberta and his and your conclusion that his book is “rather a revelation of how many biblical illiterates exist in the evangelical fold” is troublesome. How does a self proclaimed Christian Evangelical work for an organization like the Atlantic which celebrates abortion, homosexual behavior, Transgenderism and other movements that are anathema to Christianity and how can Alberta denigrate the beliefs of millions of Evangelicals when he doesn’t know what is in their hearts. Only God knows and only God will judge?
    Lastly, I find it absurd to suggest that Evangelicals have damaged Christianity and have caused a reduction of interest among young people. Hollywood, our education system and the media have attacked Christian beliefs for the last 50 years. They have promoted Darwin’s Theory of Evolution as a replacement for belief in God claiming that only ignorant people would believe in some magical sky god. This has been accomplished despite incredible discoveries about evolution that were only found in the late 1990’s. I have personal experience with my own children and grandchildren, who in their ignorance. have accepted the Hollywood and education system’s alternative to the truth that only an all powerful God could have created our world and the Universe in which it exists. Recent discoveries in Biology and Physics make a strong argument for God, but even Biology and Physics can’t overcome Hollywood and the media. Merry Christmas!



    • Cal Thomas on November 28, 2023 at 8:14 pm

      Dear Ray – Thanks for taking the time to write such a long note in response to my column. A small correction. I have been writing the column for 39 1/2 years, not 50, so maybe you confused me with someone else for those 101/2 years! I don’t have the time to respond to all of your arguments (I said it all in the column), but will select two I think are at the heart. You say all of us are sinners. True. But that doesn’t serve as absolution for every kind of sin. Trump is a serial adulterer, a misogynist, a man who mistreated his staff and childishly calls people names. As a believer are you OK being called a “piece of s–t”? Christians said when it came to Bill Clinton character mattered. Agreed. But suddenly it doesn’t matter when it comes to Trump. I noticed you had nothing to say about the scriptural references I included in the column. They seem to me to be a compelling argument. Agree that Trump did a few good things, but not all that he claims. Here is part of of a column written last year by Quinn Hillyer of The Washington Examiner that speaks to that point.
      “On policy, Trump wasn’t even good in the area for which he claimed the most credit — the economy. He created what I repeatedly described in these pages as a sugar high, putting together all the ingredients except the yeast for the inflationary cake that Biden, in his own idiocy, then leavened and baked. Even before the pandemic hit, Trump was the biggest spender and biggest creator of debt in U.S. history, with the exception of the budget years during World War II. And he was a horrid deal-maker even for the things he wanted most. Trump deliberately engineered the longest “shutdown” in U.S. government history — five weeks long — in order to fight for more spending for a border wall. He ended up securing less wall funding than Democrats had offered before the shutdown began.

      Trump deserves almost no credit for his biggest economic success — the corporate tax cut he signed into law. He had to lift barely a finger to pass it — the work was done almost entirely by then-Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, who had it teed up in substance and had won universal support for it within his party. The tax bill was just waiting for the moment a Republican president took office and was ready to sign it.

      Something similar could be said about judges. By the time Trump took office, the Federalist Society and allies had built such a deep bench (pun intended) of superbly qualified conservative jurists that Trump could have nominated any of about 15 choices who would have been readily confirmable to the Supreme Court and, in some cases, even more reliably conservative than the three he chose.

      Trump’s foreign policy was a mess. He praised dictators, negotiated directly with the Taliban, undermined the Afghan government, abandoned airfields and equipment to Russian forces in Syria and, most nauseatingly, declared that he “fell in love” with North Korea’s murderous Kim Jong-Un. Kissing up to Kim achieved nothing, as the Hermit Kingdom developed ever-more dangerous weapons on Trump’s watch.

      All these complaints and still more can be leveled before even mentioning that Trump put his own vice president’s life in danger, reportedly approvingly, in hopes of stealing an election that Trump’s own top officials repeatedly told him he had clearly lost.

      Yes, the Trump administration did some good things in bolstering the defense budget, supporting Israel and improving health care systems. None of those were significant enough, though, to make up for the havoc he caused and the poisons he injected into our constitutional system. If a majority of Republicans is finally willing to consider another presidential candidate in 2024, it may be a sign that both sanity and self-preservation can return.”

      There are some fine candidates who are conservatives and believers. Trump not only lost his 2020 re-election bid (of yes he did and no court has validated his bogus claims, including judges he named) but his endorsed candidates lost, giving the Senate majority to Democrats and his endorsements meant little in 2022 which was supposedly going to be a “red wave.”
      As for “making the world a batter place” you should know better than that. The world is fallen and will not be made “better” — that is perfect — until Jesus returns.

      Regarding Tim Alberta working for Atlantic, I used to hear that argument when I had a show on CBNC, which also carried a show by a sex adviser. I said I have nothing to do with that show, only mine. Are you suggesting Christians should not have a presence in the secular world? I shared my faith on and off air and while at Fox and hosting a media dinner before the National Prayer Breakfast for 30 years. I saw several people come to Christ and many others exposed to the Gospel. Tim is a serious believer as you will see if you take the time to read his compelling book.
      Again, thanks for writing and I hope my response is helpful.Happy CHRISTmas to you as well.



  3. Ray Androne on November 29, 2023 at 12:00 am

    Dear Cal: Your response is a generous gift to me from a person that I hold in very high regard. Sorry for being incorrect about how long I have read your columns. I will respond to your points as briefly as possible as I am very appreciative of the time you have accorded me already. My purpose in asking for a few more minutes of your time is to show you that we devout Christians are not ignorant Neanderthals who are part of a Trump cult. I know dozens of devout couples who feel as I do and we are well educated, highly informed policy wonks who want to leave to our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren the great country that we were privileged to grow up in. I did not skip or miss any of the Bible quotes you used. You know as I do that the challenge for those of us who believe the Bible is the Word of God is to properly understand and interpret each verse. Reminding ourselves almost continuously that we are all sinners helps us focus on the next world and Jesus said “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” We will all answer to God at His appointed time. I am not absolving Trump of his behavior, I simply believe that my choice in voting should always be for the person whose policies will benefit America in THIS world. I spent 40 years in the financial field and consider myself a student of economics. Before I ever heard of Trump as a candidate, I outlined the steps to take our economy out of the slow growth of Obama years. My steps were 1. increase our fossil fuel production, 2. reduce the overwhelming amount of Federal regulation 3. secure our border 4. reduce federal taxes. Trump did all these things although he received no support on border security from Ryan and McConnell as they followed the Chamber of Commerce desire to use illegal labor to create continued downward pressure on the wages of the lowest paid Americans. Regarding judges, it is only Trump’s appointees who overturned Roe v. Wade. Other Republican presidents thought they appointed the right people to reverse Roe, but they didn’t get it done. Advantage Trump.
    Watching the Biden administration, it is hard to find anything to criticize in Trump’s foreign policy. He started no new wars and was rapidly ending the Afghanistan war with a residual force that would have created some stability. Continuing Trump’s policy of high oil production would have kept the price of oil so low that Russia could not have invaded Ukraine and Iran would not have been able to fund Hamas. Just like in picking judges who reversed Roe, having no wars and thereby saving tens of thousands of lives, results matter.
    Cal, thank you for considering my opinion. This is America. We can disagree and still respect each other. The media has published many articles conveying that Trump supporters are part of a cult of personality. This is absurd. All of the Trump supporters I know have a strong rational basis for their support. I don’t expect that most Democrat voters have such a strong rational basis. I have asked and all of my friends will support the person who wins the Republican nomination. I hope you and others would make the same commitment. Our nation will not survive another 4 years of Biden policies. I live in Florida and think the world of DeSantis. May God continue to bless you and your family and may this Christmas season bring you great joy!



    • Tom Schmidt on November 29, 2023 at 2:03 pm

      Interesting discussion with Mr Androne. I understand why most people would resent being labeled as cultists. While I affirm the normalcy of saying Trump had better policies, and feeling disappointment over Biden I must ask some questions. Do you accept the decision of numerous Republican officials that Biden won the 2020 election or do you believe it was stolen? Was Mike Pence following his constitutional duty on January 6 or was he a traitor worthy of hanging? Would you consider any alternatives or does it have to be Trump?Ultimately it boils down to whether Trump can do something that would turn you against him or could he shoot someone on 5th Avenue or stage an insurrection and still keep your support? The more you answer the latter the more the cultist charge applies.



      • Ray Androne on November 29, 2023 at 6:35 pm

        I accept the results of the 2020 election. Article 1, Section 4 of the US Constitution requires that the times, places, and manner for holding federal elections rests with the State Legislature. In 2020, several critical swing states violated the U S Constitution by Governors or Secretaries of State changing their state election laws to permit hundreds of thousands of ballots to be counted which came from boxes for which there was no chain of custody. There were many other anomalies in the election that are worthy of thorough investigation. If the Democrats, the media and others are so certain that the 2020 election was done without significant fraud they could have helped to heal America by having a bi-partisan commission do a thorough study of the election. WHY WAS THIS NOT DONE?
        Regarding Mike Pence, I have always admired Mike Pence and when I saw news reports about people on January 6 calling to hang him, I couldn’t believe it and I had to find out for myself. It took days of searching the internet to find the original video where hanging was mentioned and which the media trumpeted from the rooftops for weeks. When you see the actual video you see hundreds of protesters in front of the camera, but over the sound are only a handful of voices saying those evil words, hang Mike Pence. I looked at the faces of the hundreds of people in the video, and NONE OF THEIR LIPS WERE MOVING. A few idiots, who could have been wayward Trump voters, or agitators for BLM/ANTIFA or any number of groups, were responsible for this despicable story. For context about counting the Electoral College votes please read this NY Times article about Democrat Electoral College challenges to both Bush elections and Trump’s election:
        https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/06/opinion/democrat-republican-electoral-votes.html. The Constitution did provide Pence the latitude to more aggressively support the Trump position. His choice not to permit any state challenges was Constitutional as would have been his choice to permit challenges to be played out.
        I answered to Cal that I will support the 2024 Republican nominee. Every Trump supporter I have asked, and there are dozens, have told me they will vote for the 2024 nominee. What about your vote in 2024? Your last 2 sentences are beneath the dignity of a conversation that up until now I assumed was among people of faith, so I will not reply to them.
        My question to you is do you love America enough to demand that we only count legal citizen’s votes who present valid identification and that we put transparent monitoring tools in place so that we never have another election where there is doubt about the validity of the election?And BTW, from 2016 to 2020 were you attacking Hillary for claiming that Trump “stole” the election?



        • pwsadmin on November 30, 2023 at 2:04 pm

          Let’s see how things play out. No point in committing this early as things will likely change. America is not mentioned in Scripture (see my previous book America’s Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires, Superpowers and the Future of the United States.”



        • Tom Schmidt on December 1, 2023 at 12:11 am

          I always perceived Hillary Clinton as a corrupt antichrist (Crooked Hillary). If I understand correctly, the last line to which you apparently object is merely Trump describing the loyalty of his followers, which if true is giving something to a human which belongs only to God.



  4. J. Reynolds on November 29, 2023 at 6:17 am

    Mr. Thomas,
    I have enjoyed many of your columns over the years. There’s a lot I’d like to say regarding your views on Trump, but I’ll be brief. If your choices in 2024 are Trump or a Democrat, who will you vote for? Or, will you not vote at all?



    • pwsadmin on November 29, 2023 at 11:56 am

      Too early to say. Most voters want neither man