What's Worse for America: Trump or Progressives? Dueling Petitions Show Evangelical Divide
A pair of statements released, one denouncing Donald Trump's bigotry and another calling on progressives to repent, showcase the divide within the evangelical Christian American community during the current election cycle.
In late September a coalition of evangelicals, including many who consider themselves to be socially or politically progressive, posted a petition on change.org denouncing the extreme rhetoric of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Several evangelical leaders, along with, as of Monday morning, more than 18,000 signatories, have declared that Trump's campaign has empowered the bigoted elements of American society.
"We believe the candidacy of Donald J. Trump has given voice to a movement that affirms racist elements in white culture — both explicit and implicit," reads the petition in part.
"Mr. Trump has fueled white American nationalism with xenophobic appeals and religious intolerance at the expense of gospel values, democratic principles, and important international relationships."
The petition also states that Trump "mocks women and the sanctity of marriage vows, disregards facts and the accountability to truth, and worships wealth and shameful materialism, while taking our weakening culture of civility to nearly unprecedented levels …"
The evangelicals behind the petition were careful to note that their stance should not be interpreted as an endorsement of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
"Whether we support Mr. Trump's political opponent is not the question here. Hillary Clinton is both supported and distrusted by a variety of Christian voters," added the petition.
"We, undersigned evangelicals, simply will not tolerate the racial, religious, and gender bigotry that Donald Trump has consistently and deliberately fueled, no matter how else we choose to vote or not to vote."
Notable signatories to the petition include author and preacher Tony Campolo, Red Letter Christians co-founder Shane Claiborne, Progressive National Baptist Convention General Secretary Timothy Tee Boddie, Rachel Held Evans, the Rev. Brian D. McLaren, and the Rev. Dr. Ron Sider of Evangelicals for Social Action.
A couple days earlier in late September, the American Association of Evangelicals released a statement calling on liberal Christians to cease supporting what it describes as "the anti-Christian Progressive political movement in America."
"While God loves justice and mercy for all, many 'social justice' campaigns are politically crafted and not the true Gospel. Only the truth of our sin, both personal and systemic, and Jesus' atoning sacrifice for our salvation and rebirth, is true hope for persons and nations," stated the AAE.
"We are not here endorsing or denouncing a political candidate but reminding you of basic Christian morality. How ironic, stale and shameless for the very leaders whose 'progressive' policies are hurting minority communities to falsely label those with political differences as 'racists.'"
Some inside sources strongly suspect that the AAE petition was created as a sort of pre-emptive attack on the change.org petition, with the supporters hoping to counter the anti-Trump petition before it was even launched.
"When Hillary Clinton stated during a 2015 speech at the Women in the World Summit that religious beliefs 'have to be changed,' she was openly declaring war on Christian believers and the Church," continued the AAE.
"And now Progressives claim that supporting such a view is the Christian thing to do? This is spiritual abuse of the family, the Church and the nation."
The AAE statement also went at length about billionaire George Soros, stating that he funds many progressive agenda items and uses liberal Christians to champion "disturbing campaigns."
"We urge you to question the true intentions of persons or organizations that receive money from Soros and other billionaire globalists," the statement read.
Notable signatories for the AAE statement include pro-life activist Alveda King, author Eric Metaxas, Bishop Harry R Jackson, Jr., George Barna, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver, and Phoenix Seminary theology professor Wayne Grudem.