If you claim to be an evangelical and plan to vote red on Tuesday – in other words, you are pro-Trump – your faith will be assaulted and your integrity will be challenged.
Here are some useful talking points you can use when interacting with friends, family, co-workers, and critics. I put them in the first person so you can appropriate them without adjustment. (Hey, the less work you have to do, the better, right?)
1) Donald Trump is not my Savior. He didn't die for my sins and I don't owe him my life. (News flash: For all those still struggling with the title of my new book, get over it. It's a positive message, not a negative one – unless Donald Trump is your Savior. In that case, the title of my book is the least of your problems. If you still don't get it, read this.)
2) Donald Trump is my president. He got my vote, but I don't worship at his altar.
3) I voted for him because he's pro-life, and he has exceeded my expectations. Not only has he appointed two solid justices to the Supreme Court, but he's appointed scores of pro-life justices to the federal courts and passed pro-life legislation. What would Hillary have done?
4) I voted for him because he's pro-Israel. To call him antisemitic is ridiculous. Not only is he the first president with a Jewish child and Jewish grandchildren, but he moved our embassy to Jerusalem, he confronted the corruption of the Palestinian leadership, he got out of the disastrous Iran deal, and he pulled America out of some blatantly anti-Israel UN organizations.
5) I voted for him because he promised to fight for religious liberties, and he's done that very thing. I'm not just talking about opposing the Johnson Amendment. I mean he's fought for our liberties, both in the court of public opinion and in the courts. Again I ask you, what would Hillary and the Democrats have done?
6) I voted for him because he opposes radical LGBT activism, and he hasn't let me down. He has pushed back against the misappropriation of Title IX by the Obama administration, he has pushed back against trans activism in the military, and he even stopped celebrating Gay Pride month in June. Not to be redundant, but what the would Hillary and the Democrats have done?
7) I voted for him because I was concerned about the genocide of Christians in the Middle East at the hands of ISIS. Under Trump, ISIS has been devastated, which means that many lives have been saved. I can't imagine how you could put a negative spin on this.
8) The economy is humming, and many Americans are benefitting, including African Americans. That's one reason why he's more popular today among African Americans than the day he was elected. Isn't that positive?
9) When I look at the alternatives, what choice do I have? Watching the Kavanaugh hearings, I saw just how ugly the militant feminists can be, just how extreme the pro-abortion crowd can be, and just how unethical some Democrat leaders can be.
10) Do I like everything the president says and does? Certainly not. Do I grimace at some of his rhetoric? You bet. Do I think he has helped fuel the fires of division in America? Actually, I do. That's why I continue to pray for him and that's why I continue to pray that his evangelical advisors and cabinet members and Vice President Pence would be a good influence on him. But let's be clear here. The media has been very divisive and destructive. President Obama and many Democrat leaders practice dangerous and divisive identity politics. So, President Trump is part of the problem, but there's blame on all sides.
11) If you want to examine my faith, then watch my life, evaluate my conduct, listen to my words, and get to my know Savior. (For those who are a little slow, I'll say it again: I'm talking about Jesus, not Trump.) But you have no right to judge my entire witness and testimony based on how I vote. A vote is a pragmatic decision based on available choices. My faith is based on moral and spiritual absolutes. Please don't confuse the two.
Of course, these talking points reflect my own perspectives and my own reasons for voting for Trump. Your perspectives and reasons may be different. Still, these talking points should help, especially when your critics are professing Christians themselves.
As to the charge that we evangelicals have hurt our cause by voting for Trump, that is only true to the extent that we have refused to be nuanced in our support for him.
As I wrote in June 30, 2017, "I'm all for defending our president when he's the subject of unjust attacks. And as a follower of Jesus, I voted for him, despite my misgivings. I'm also very happy to point out the many good things he has already done as president. But I will not sacrifice my ethics and demean my faith to defend his wrongful words. To do that is to lose all credibility before a watching world."
So, politics is important, but it's not the gospel.
Let's also remember that many of the people telling us that we lost our credibility by voting for Trump are the same ones who told us we had no credibility before we voted for him.
In short, have your talking points ready, but don't play the leftwing media's game.
Where America is better under Trump, rejoice. Where it's worse, do your best to help make it better.
Pretty simple, no?