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Why I was wrong about Donald Trump

An Open Letter to Conservative Christian #NeverTrump Voters
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As Christians, we cannot give our undying allegiance to anyone except Jesus. For everyone else, we must call balls and strikes, or else we lose credibility as bearers of the light and stewards of the Gospel. For every elected official, including the President, that means praising them when they do good and criticizing when they do wrong. 

During the 2016 GOP primary, Donald Trump was the very last Republican I wanted to see elected.

I was one of a handful of conservative leaders around the country who chose to openly and publicly oppose him in the primary. I wrote CNN articles, was interviewed on several radio and television shows, and I sounded the alarm about his personal history and seeming lack of moral compass.

My main reason for opposing Trump was because, based on his past actions and words, I believed he would ultimately govern like a center left-leaning Republican. 

I thought he would support abortion rights. 

I thought he would pick his Palm Beach lawyer buddies and Bar insiders for the federal and Supreme Court.

I thought he would ignore the real threat to religious liberty that exists due to the advancement of the radical LGBT policy agenda.

I thought his past statements on moral issues, coupled with his personal history, meant he would surely become the typical, moderate, New York establishment, Republican president. 

Well, I was wrong.

And I was wrong about almost every one of my concerns about how he would govern on policy and appointments. 

After watching him pick Mike Pence for vice president and release a list of Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation approved judicial candidates for the US Supreme Court, I was amazed and stunned!  These were game changers for me.

Since his election, on issues of most concern to conservative Christians, the President, and those surrounding him, have been surprisingly strong.

We all wish he would use restraint on Twitter and in his rhetoric, show humility, and be more charitable towards those with whom he disagrees. We would all love to have a kinder, more respectable, and family-friendly president who is still fiercely committed to principle.

But politics has only one true bottom line — policy. 

Policy determines whether human beings live or die. Policy determines whether free speech and religious liberty will be protected or trampled under the demands of liberal activists. Policy affects whether Dad has a job or is applying for welfare.  Policy directly affects the people sitting around your dinner table. 

Some Christians say, “Oh, but I what about his potty mouth?” “What about his lack of collegiality?”  What about, what about, what about? 

Well to those people, I would respectfully say, what about the 62 million unborn human beings slaughtered in their mothers’ wombs in America? 

What about the baby girls who are poisoned by digoxin injected with a needle into their heart or burned to death by poison saline solutions? 

What about the baby boys who are ripped limb by limb with forceps and a curette blade or sucked into a vacuum?

Does anyone think for one moment that when the famous British parliamentarian William Wilberforce, during his 20-year fight to end the slave trade, that he was concerned about aligning himself with members of Parliament who had a foul mouth and a checkered past?  No!  Wilberforce was committed to ending the evil slave trade and would hold hands, work with, and help elect any politician who could help join his great campaign for the sanctity and dignity of human life.

I understand Christians who are uncomfortable with or despise Trump’s style. But I urge you not to surrender the strategic influence of your vote on some long shot, third-party candidate.

I respect conservative #NeverTrumpers, but their reasoning is flawed because they are not being good stewards of something precious – their vote.  This is especially true if you are living in a purple state like Florida where the margins of victory are and will continue to be razor thin. 

We should rightly judge men based on their real actions and words, not based upon perceived motives or the state of their hearts.  In 2016, I opposed Donald Trump based on his past actions and words.  In 2020, I will support Donald Trump based on his actions and words on public policy since becoming president.

In Scripture, we see many times God using imperfect men to accomplish good things.  President Trump is far from perfect, but he’s accomplishing unprecedentedly good things in terms of policy and appointments – and for this reason, President Trump deserves our support. 

John Stemberger is an Orlando attorney, former Political Director of the Republican Party of Florida, and leads the conservative organization Florida Family Action. 

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