I find it very curious that so many folks have enthusiastically thrown their support behind Donald Trump in 2016. But I’m particularly amazed at evangelicals who have fallen head over heels for Trump, both those in the pews, as well as noted evangelical leaders such as Jerry Falwell, Jr., Robert Jeffress and more. As I’ve listened to these men trumpet their praise for Donald, much of their rationale is based on the billionaire’s perceived business acumen and his supposed fiscal credentials.
In his statement endorsing Donald Trump, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr, called Trump, “a successful executive and entrepreneur.” And Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of 11,000 member First Baptist Church in Dallas, TX, stated on FoxNews that evangelical pragmatists say, “Let’s find the most conservative person we can. Let him concentrate on fixing the economy… pragmatists are basically going towards Donald Trump.”
The sentiments by Falwell, Jeffers and millions of other “pragmatic” evangelicals prioritizing the economy and fiscal matters is quite puzzling and got me wondering whether other values of an individual should be ignored? Do a candidate’s positions on other issues matter? What about his personal behavior and life — is that fair game? Or should we simply remain focused on fiscal issues, as if strengthening the almighty dollar should be our nation’s singular priority?
Let’s consider another businessman who, by any measure of economic standards, has achieved extraordinary business success. In 1953, a 27-year-old entrepreneur, struggling to find his place in the world, invested $600 of his limited capital to launch a monthly periodical. The first issue was an instant success, selling out all 53,991 copies at 50 cents per copy. Over the next several years, the magazine’s circulation grew to over 1 million by 1960, and it continued on a rapid upward trend, peaking at over 5 million copies monthly in 1975.
Boosted by his rapid success, the young entrepreneur ventured into a number of related business ventures, including casinos and night clubs. With his growing success, the periodical he founded attracted mainstream authors and secured interviews with noted personalities, including presidential candidate Jimmy Carter and even Donald Trump.
Despite falling on hard times in the 80’s, the following decade the business regrouped under the leadership of his daughter. As a result, the enterprise that began as a men’s magazine nearly 40 years earlier successfully launched a TV channel and soon after that a membership only website. Fast forward to 2015 and the founder of that first fledgling periodical in 1953 now boasts a multi-billion dollar global operation. And this entrepreneur’s own personal net worth is estimated at $50 million… which all started with a $600 investment.
Obviously, from the title of my article you can already surmise our mystery entrepreneur is none other than Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy, one of the most economically successful men’s magazines of all time. Yet, by any measure of wholesome and upright values, Hugh Hefner is someone who has preyed on women and capitalized on the sexually degenerate appetites of men. Hefner is a man whose values have served to hasten our nation’s slide into the abyss of moral degradation and depravity. The door Hefner’s Playboy dared to crack open has ultimately served to proliferate an industry that has become so mainstream that many simply shrug their shoulders as it leads millions of young men down a dead end trail of remorse and regret.
Like Hugh Hefner, Donald Trump has achieved extraordinary business success and it’s this success that he touts when he claims, “I’m running for office in a country that’s essentially bankrupt, and it needs a successful businessman.” There is no doubt that America’s fiscal condition is dire with up to 40% of all federal expenditures being funded through increasing our national debt as it bursts through the $20 trillion mark. But driving this fiscal threat is our bankruptcy as a nation relative to our adherence to the Constitution and the principles of our founding fathers, including those Judeo-Christian values upon which America was founded.
Given these truths, we are faced with a chicken and egg type dilemma. Do economics drive a person’s values or do a person’s values drive their economics?
I believe all that we do flows from our core values so while evangelical leaders like Falwell and Jeffress appear to base their endorsement of Trump on his fiscal prowess, I believe one cannot and should not ignore the values behind Trump’s financial successes. So, let’s look very briefly at just a few of Trump’s “values” that would be at odds with the values many evangelicals and conservatives claim as their own:
- Trump boasts in his book “The Art of the Comeback” about his numerous extra-marital exploits: “If I told the real stories of my experiences with women, often seemingly very happily married and important women, this book would be a guaranteed best-seller.“
- Trump said in 1999 “I am very pro-choice” and he would not ban partial birth abortion. He claims to have changed his views in recent years.
- Trump said he is open to the idea of continuing federal funding of Planned Parenthood for their “good aspects… and the things they do properly and good” but he would not fund the abortion part of their business.
- Trump supports ethanol subsidies.
- Trump supported President Obama’s Stimulus plan in 2009.
- Trump supported the 2005 Supreme Court Kelo vs City of London dealing with eminent domain that authorized public authorities to seize private property for economic development by investors.
- Trump supported TARP
- Trump supports a universal healthcare system similar to Canada’s government-run system and the government would foot the bill for those who could not pay.
These are just a few highlights of Trump’s views that clearly conflict with conservative values. To find out more about the issues Trump supports, that should concern conservatives, go to Conservative Review here and here. Additionally, for evangelical conservatives, these articles by CNN and The Daily Beast provide additional areas of concern.
At the end of the day, I believe that one’s core values will ultimately influence every other decision a person makes. And while our nation certainly requires some drastic fiscal reforms, there are still matters that should trump the dollar, even when it comes to Donald Trump. And finally, we should all remember the words of Jesus when He said, “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” At this crucial time in our nation’s history, are we more concerned in gaining the world or losing our souls?
As my fellow evangelicals head to the polls, I pray they will not only ponder their answer to this question, but I encourage them to read the Resolution on Moral Character of Public Officials.