Let me get this straight. If I want the admiration and blessings of the most flamboyant, judgmental Christians in America, I should marry three times, do a queasy-making amount of sexual boasting, verbally degrade women, talk trash about pretty much everyone else while I’m at it, encourage gamblers to hemorrhage their savings in casinos bearing my name and crow incessantly about how much money I’ve amassed?
Bruni, as you may have gathered from that introduction, is hardly writing from inside the church house. But he goes on to perfectly spell out the massive disconnect between the stated beliefs of many of Trump’s supporters, on the one hand, and their candidate’s gaudily secular lifestyle, on the other.
Indeed, as Bruni argues, Trump “just about runs the table on the seven deadly sins”:
He personifies greed, embodies pride, radiates lust. Wrath is covered by his anti-immigrant, anti-“losers” rants, and if we interpret gluttony to include big buildings and not just Big Macs, he’s a glutton through and through. That leaves envy and sloth. I’m betting that he harbors plenty of the former, though I’ll concede that he exhibits none of the latter.
There’s more—lots more. Indeed, Bruni has done the American church a valuable service of slogging through the theological discernment too many of us seem to have swept under the rug where Trump is concerned. I highly recommend reading the whole article here.
Meanwhile, over at the American Conservative, Gracy Olmstead jumps off from Bruni’s conclusions to offer more political reflections on Trump’s character:
[W]e must consider what a president is supposed to be—and why Trump is not suited for that office. Beyond issues of gentlemanliness, decorum, and diplomacy—skills in which he’s sadly lacking—Trump also lacks a necessary humility and appreciation of limits.
The executive branch of our government is not meant to be dictatorial; the president is not supposed to be able to initiate top-down reforms according to his every whim and fancy. We need a president who respects the balance of powers put in place. We need a president who understands what his constitutional constraints are, and respects them.
Do we really think Trump would be that man? There are few constraints he seems willing to respect. He’s more of a steamroller than he is a preserver or upholder.
Indeed, it is obvious from a single glance at any of Trump’s real estate holdings that his is not a conservative nature. This is a man who would force an elderly widow to go to court to stop him from using the government to steal her home—land he coveted for yet another glitzy expansion of the Trump empire.
Of course, it’s true that none of us can know Trump’s heart, but it’s also true that we’re supposed to be able to identify fellow Christians by their love and fruits of the Spirit. Maybe I’m missing something, but Trump very effectively projects a lot of ideas and emotions in his public life—and love, patience, self control, etc. don’t show up too often.
As Olmstead notes, “I don’t think that Christians should just vote for a Christian because they’re Christian.” In fact—though I’d deeply disagree with the decision for political and theological reasons alike—faithful Christians might even vote for Trump because they endorse his policy ideas.
But only with massive self-deception can it be suggested that voting for Trump (or, I’d argue, any candidate) is in any way a Christian act. To borrow Bruni’s words, in Trump, “I don’t see someone interested in serving God. I see someone interested in being God.”