Famed Film Maker Has A Question for Christians About Donald Trump

Posted on July 13, 2016 in Public Policy, Theology by

ken-burnsI have a confession; I love a good documentary. I know that makes me a geek. I’m okay with it. I especially love historical documentaries that show footage from our past. To glimpse into the past to see what life was like decades, or centuries ago is incredible.

One of the best historical documentary filmmakers in the world is Ken Burns. Anyone that has watched a really good historical documentary has probably watched a Ken Burns film. Recently Ken Burns did an interview in which he asked Christians planning to support Donald Trump a question. He asked:

“What part of Donald Trump reminds you of Jesus Christ?”

That’s a legitimate question that I think every Christian planning to vote for Trump needs to wrestle with. While some are quick to note that we are not voting on a “pastor in chief,” but a president. I would argue that, for Christians, the person we prefer for our nations highest political office should be one that best represents the convictions and values we cherish. Is that Trump?

I don’t know if Ken Burns is a Christian but he seems to be wrestling with the decision to vote for Trump – as a Christian – more honestly than many professing Christians. During his interview he said:

“Trump lusts after his own daughter on national radio, talks about women’s bodies and breasts in such a disparaging way, and mocks them. How is this in any way Christian? When you make the ‘other’ the enemy, how is that Christian?”

The character and temperament of Donald Trump is seriously in question. For most of his life Trump has been a liberal. He has been friends with the Clintons for decades and even supported their foundations. He has flip-flopped on critical issues; he is unapologetic; he is proud and arrogant; and he doesn’t think he needs to ask God for forgiveness for anything!

What about this man is worth the support of Christians?

I’ll be the first to admit that we are between a rock and a hard place for this year’s election. The two presumptive nominees for the 2016 election are best stated as “the lesser of two evils.” But that just means that voting for either Clinton or Trump is still a vote for evil. As a Christian it will be hard to justify that vote.

For many this is about not letting one candidate win. The idea of not voting or casting a third party vote is nothing more than a vote for the “other candidate.” That notion is so hard to swallow that some would rather vote for a candidate like Trump than to see the opposing candidate win. And while I would not be excited to see Ms. Clinton win the election, I cannot justify voting for someone as unhinged as Donald Trump in order to keep her from office because in the end, I have to give account for my vote.

Personally, I think we may see more write-in candidates during this election than ever before. Many will write in Sen. Sanders, others will write in Ted Cruz, and still others will write in Gary Johnson or some unknown candidate. It’s conceivable that our next president will not have close to a majority of the countries votes, but just enough electoral votes to win.

Still, given the circumstances it’s hard to imagine being able to justify a vote for Donald Trump. I have watched with curiosity at his meteoric rise to presidential nominee and wondered why so many Christians are willing to get behind him. Ken Burns has a theory about the rise of Trump that is worth consideration as it contains an element of truth that I think is hard to ignore. He said:

“An amoral internet permits a lie to travel around the world three times before the truth can get started, and we live in a place where lying is OK — where a lassitude develops where it doesn’t matter what the truth is — and that’s how it’s possible for someone like him to be advanced who is so clearly temperamentally unsuited and has no idea about governing…The problem with our media today is we have no perspective. History provides the ability for calm perspective and rational thinking. Nowhere in the history of the United States has their been a more unqualified person — just ask a historian.”

That’s a good point, Mr. Burns.

Trump appears to be tapping into an anger felt by many Americans resulting from incumbent politicians and the desire for an “outsider” to come in and represent the people. I can understand that. But does that mean we abandon our convictions to support someone that speaks and conducts himself in a manner that betrays the Gospel we claim to love? I have a hard time with that.

In the end I don’t have to stand and give account for your vote. I will answer for my vote. I have to make sure that my vote matches my convictions and the Gospel I claim to believe. For me, that means not voting for Trump. I will no doubt be accused of “throwing away” my vote on a write-in third-party candidate. So be it. I will be at peace with my conscience and my God.

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