Pope Francis recently declared that Donald Trump is not a Christian. It was shocking mainly because no one else had said it out loud. To Catholics, the Pope is the holiest man on the planet, and his views define matters of faith and morality. So yes, his opinion about Trump means a lot. Some still vocalized their disapproval, and there are thousands of Christians who do, in fact, support Trump if this Facebook page proves anything.
Trump has said that he would be "the greatest representative of the Christians they've had in a long time." Could this be true? And if so, what does it mean to be a Christian, uphold Christian values and run for office of the United States? The answer is kind of complicated.
At a recent service at Redeemer Presbyterian Church on New York City's Upper West Side, founding pastor Tim Keller spoke about Christian values and how they should reflect on our everyday life, including in our work. He referenced Galatians 2:11-21, which implies that racism is wrong, though it mainly touches on "living in line with the truth of the Gospel." There are other scriptures in the Bible that discuss how Christians should treat "outsiders," or non-Christians, just as Christ did. Galatians 3:28 says: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." John 4:6-26, where Jesus talks with a Samaritan woman, speaks of the revolutionary act of Christ engaging with a woman who was viewed as a "foreigner" and a "sinner" but who was nonetheless welcomed into his kingdom.
Trump has made it clear that he considers "others" to be Muslims, Latinos, women, and non-Trump supporters. But this mentality is not in line with Christian values. John Oliver, on a recent episode of Last Week Tonight, played a clip from a documentary titled Born Rich, of Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, telling the following story:
"I remember once my father and I were walking down Fifth Avenue, and there was a homeless person sitting outside of Trump Tower. I remember my father pointing to him and saying, ‘You know, that guy has $8 billion more than me’ — because [my father] was just in extreme debt at that point.”
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"And that really shows you the indomitable spirit of Donald Trump," Oliver concluded. "To fall to his lowest point, and in that very moment, still find a way to be kind of a dick to a homeless guy."
"The hate speech that comes out of his mouth — which pretty much every religion abhors — his lifestyle choices, and teachings are decidedly un-Christian," Rev. Amy Molina-Moore said. "He is in fact a bad Christian because he dismisses the teachings of Jesus and flaunts it. Some of the most famous concise teachings of Jesus are summarized in the words from his 'Sermon on the Mount' in Matthew 5, where Jesus is reported to have taught: 'Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth' — Trump’s campaign begins and ends with his lack of meekness/humility. Time and again we see Trump preach the opposite; that mercy is repulsive and revenge and brutality are instead virtuous. 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.' Clearly this is more in line with the Pope’s message of 'Bridges not Walls.'”
"Trump has divorced several wives, is a notorious philanderer, and has made millions if not billions preying upon people's vices, including gambling addictions, drinking too much, and strippers. He has also flaunted his wealth and excess and even found it necessary to describe the size of his penis in a presidential debate — shamelessly, I guess."
When I asked Bush what he thought of Trump's comments about being the "greatest representative of the Christians" he said: "This quote is a joke, and no, he is not a good example, period. These are the sayings of a clueless megalomaniac."
Clearly, though, there are Christians who do support Trump, including Pastor Robert Jeffress. In regards to the Pope's comments against Trump, Jeffress told The Gospel Herald, "People have a great respect for the Pope, but they don’t look to him for advice on national security. I think Protestants and Catholics share a belief in the desire to keep America safe. I think the pontiff is sincere, but I think he’s sincerely wrong in saying it’s un-Christian to build walls."
Molina-Moore noted that "the example of walls and fortifications to protect national interest is found primarily in the Hebrew Testament. But if we go back to the beginning, in Genesis we get a rational for God’s calling of Abraham. We learn that this nomadic, tribal society didn’t encounter an isolationist/nativist God, but an expansive, inclusive God. 'I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
The Vox reports that "Donald Trump's poll numbers show a big divide between Christians and churchgoing Christians," and although church leaders have for the most part been vocal against Trump, a lot of Christians still favor him.
"About 32 percent said they would vote for Trump in the primary, which is 13 percentage points ahead of the next candidate, Ted Cruz," according to an evangelical firm. The second finding reports that "if you take the subset of that group who has been to church in the past week, Ted Cruz earns about 30 percent of the vote, versus Trump's 24. And more than a third have an unfavorable opinion of Trump."
Reverend Kellie Anderson-Picallo said that a true Christian walks in humility, leadership and compassion all at the same time, and even though Trump does not, it is important that we are even having this conversation.
"It has created a great moment for Christians to have hard discussions around Christian identity. Each person of Christian faith must have that reconciling identity moment and the recent discussion between the Pope and Donald Trump created a national opportunity for this. And that was exciting. At the end of the day the good news is that God is not a Republican. Or a Democrat. Or a third party Independent. God is above all these political processes."
[Update: Sept. 29] Trump asked people at his rally on Wednesday night in Iowa to raise their hands if they were Christian. He also asked those who were not Christian to identify themselves.
"Raise your hand if you’re not a Christian conservative. I want to see this, right? Oh there’s a a couple people, that’s all right," Trump said. "I think we’ll keep them, right? Should we keep them in the room, yes? I think so."
This comment clearly didn't sit well with people.
Watch the entire spectacle below: