Can we all just take a step back and admit that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are quite less than desirable candidates for President? Undoubtedly, both will be bad for America (and the world) in various ways. More significantly, each will be bad for the church.
Clinton will be bad for the church in that she will further liberal social policy and restrict religious liberty (among other things) – but at least we will know what we’re up against. Trump, however, will be bad for the church in that, while he might give us many of the things we’re looking for (e.g. lower taxes, conservative judges, etc.), we won’t realize the spiritual expense of trading for those political agendas. While America might become ‘great’ again (by the way, I am extremely suspicious that what Trump means by that doesn’t jive well with a Christian ethic), the church might lose her soul and her witness in the process. For that reason, Trump may actually be worse for the church than Clinton.
Perhaps an illustration is helpful. Take the proverbial frog in boiling water. Clinton is like dropping the frog into a boiling pot of water – it will immediately jump out because it senses the danger. Trump, however, is like slowly turning the temperature up, so that the frog doesn’t realize the temperature is rising; and thus, boils unknowingly. So also, under President Clinton the church immediately realizes the pressures of being a Christian and can engage appropriately. But under President Trump the pressure is much more subtle and insidious; because, while it may feel good to be on the side of political power, we will be blinded to the attendant temptations and dangers of a Trumpian America.
To put it another way: if Clinton were a gargoyle-like beast, Trump would be a demon disguised as an angel of light – not equally menacing, but equally lethal. Both possibilities present challenges to living a faithful Christian life in America. But I fear that doing so under a Trump presidency will require a much greater thoughtful scrutiny of the idols of our hearts than under a Clinton presidency.
Clinton will be bad for the church as far as the Christian-conservative agenda is concerned. But Trump will be bad for the church as far as her holiness and witness is concerned. And, for me, that is a much more disturbing potential.