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Why do American evangelical Christians support President Donald Trump, asks Lyndon Weggery.
Like him, love him or downright hate him, we New Zealanders have not seen such a polarising figure since the days of Robert Muldoon, and it is conveniently forgotten that none of us can vote in the United States.
So, what is going on? Why don't we read or see more of his accomplishments in the first year of office? Domestic economy rising, taxation reform, rejuvenation of the military, illegal immigration drastically curtailed, veteran hospital reform, thawing of relations with North Korea, IS mostly defeated etc.
As a lay pastor I have reflected on the spiritual aspect of his election and became aware a good number of evangelical Christians, including the son of Billy Graham (Franklin Graham), openly campaigned and supported the Republican candidate.
Apparently, under Barak Obama, Christian values were perceived as under attack and the Biblical worldview of traditional America seemed out of place in the White House in the preceding eight years.
To acknowledge the Christian support for Trump is to understand that, unlike New Zealand, the United States has a history of being specifically founded on Judaeo-Christian principles.
This is reflected in the Constitution because the Bible was used as the primary document by the Founding Fathers, many of whom were strong believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, in 2016 when Christians in the United States found the God-things, once the roots that nourished and anchored their republic, were now painted as offensive by their society, it was no surprise to find thousands of them "pushed back".
My understanding is that in the 12 months before November, 2016, Franklin Graham went around organising prayer for a spiritual change to the White House. Even leading churches in California - like Calvary Chapel Chino Hills under Pastor Jack Hibbs, with a membership of 8000 - reflected on how the two major parties stood on five areas of concern. They were:
1.Abortion and a child's right to life.
2.The definition of natural marriage by God and science.
3.Israel and the Jews' right to the Promised Land.
4.Natural Law and Second Amendment rights. (The right to protect oneself.)
5.Religious liberty as the antithesis to tyranny.
Pastor Hibbs' congregation did not wish to get involved in the many issues circulating in the campaign but deliberately asked themselves what was the Christian vote in America? As they compared the policies on the five issues, it soon became clear the Republican Party was nearer the mark than the Democrats. And so millions of American Christians voted accordingly.
Is President Trump a saint? Of course not. He's human like all of us and prone to weakness as his past indicates.
Well before his presidency bit, Trump was a polarising figure whose win-at-all-costs attitude brought fame, fortune and plenty of critics.
If you rightly pointed out his personal credentials (or lack of them) to be president, then those Christians defending his election will say Donald Trump is God's Man being transformed into a Man of God through the prayers and spiritual mentoring of godly men and women within his circle of influence.
The phrase "God's Man" is interesting because within American evangelical circles has developed the idea that President Trump is a modern version of King Cyrus. He was a Persian king in the 6th century BC who allowed the Jewish exiles to return to Israel and rebuild their Temple.
Many years before, the prophet Isaiah had predicted the rise of Cyrus who would unite the Medes and the Persians and conquer Babylon in 539BC. The decree of Cyrus would allow the Jews to return home in the following year. Therefore, the election of Donald Trump to the White House (in the eyes of many Christians) is that religious freedoms have been restored to America and, more significantly, the close relationship with the modern State of Israel has been rekindled.
This idea of Trump being used by God is not new because when Daniel was asked to interpret King Nebuchadnezzar's dream, Daniel 2:20-21 has the prophet saying these words:
"Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever, wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning."
I have been round long enough to know all political leaders deserve our respect and support whether we voted for them or not. So, when the subject of President Trump comes up again within your circle of friends just remember the words of Gamaliel, a first century AD Pharisee commenting on the persecution of the fledgling Jewish sect of Christ followers:
"Therefore, in the present case I advise you; leave these men alone. Let them go. For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God." Acts 5:38-39.
Lyndon Weggery is a lay pastor in the Teviot Union Parish, Roxburgh.