The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.
As a serious defense of a vote for Trump, Metaxas fails on nearly every front. He isn’t entirely factual, he inflates the flaws of Clinton and minimizes and avoids the flaws of Trump, his reasoning is flawed, and he continues to paraphrase a quote he incorrectly attributes to Bonhoeffer as his final justification.
While I don’t know all of the facts surrounding Metaxas’ claims about Clinton, I don’t think he does either. Do we know that Hillary Clinton “actively enabled sexual predation in her husband before—and while—he was president?” My impression is that there are two sides to this claim and my informal investigations into this lead me to think the situation is more complex. In any case, is Metaxas unaware that Trump has been accused of the same thing and will have to participate in a status conference hearing on the matter in December? To my knowledge, outside of the Lewinsky case, Bill Clinton has not been convicted of anything else.
My point is not to defend Clinton on her relationship with her husband or her foreign policy mistakes. I do have problems with her actions on several fronts and her extreme positions on abortion. My point is that Metaxas asserts that his accusations are true but it is not at all clear that all of them are accurate or fair. Without evidence, this is not a Christian way to argue.
(UPDATE: Metaxas appears to be following an internet meme and not the facts on the story that Hillary Clinton laughed about getting a rapist set free. The facts contradict Metaxas’ accusations.)
Metaxas then writes:
Children in the Middle East are forced to watch their fathers drowned in cages by ISIS. Kids in inner-city America are condemned to lives of poverty, hopelessness and increasing violence. Shall we sit on our hands and simply trust “the least of these” to God, as though that were our only option? Don’t we have an obligation to them?
I have no idea what this has to do with his case. He seems to assume that helping children in the Middle East and inner city will be accomplished by a vote for Trump. I think a pretty good case can be made that Clinton is also opposed to drowning fathers and inner city poverty, hopelessness and violence.
Metaxas infuriatingly brings up Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer as if invoking them somehow strengthens his case. He seems oblivious to the fact that both men could be invoked to oppose his position. Furthermore, he seems to assume Christians opposed to Trump take their position because they are concerned with their own moral purity. Although his 2005 tape has deepened the divisions among Christians, for me, Trump’s personal morality is just one problem.
Metaxas closes with this mind bending paragraph:
A vote for Donald Trump is not necessarily a vote for Donald Trump himself. It is a vote for those who will be affected by the results of this election. Not to vote is to vote. God will not hold us guiltless.
I can’t get my head around this. A vote for Trump isn’t a vote for Trump but not to vote is to vote. And if I don’t vote for Trump then God will hold me accountable? Maybe if I don’t vote for Hillary, it will be like a vote for Trump but not really since I can vote for Trump without voting for him. Somehow I think in Metaxas’ world, I am still going to get zapped from above.
Faced with unacceptable options, not voting is a reasonable choice. Voting third party is a serious option. No evangelical Trump supporter has yet to produce a biblical mandate that I must vote for one of the two representatives in a two party system. Voting is a precious right in this republic but there is no religious mandate to vote for an unacceptable candidate.
Metaxas pretends to have omniscience to know that a vote for Trump will benefit all the right people. This is presumptuous and insults the intelligence of those who have analyzed Trump’s positions and statements and legitimately fear that his character and policies will negatively affect the greater good. Instead of actually making a case that Trump is better, he simply name drops historical heroes. Metaxas hints that he knows what Bonhoeffer would do. Since Hillary is evil incarnate, Bonhoeffer, as in like manner as he planned to kill Hitler, would vote against Hillary and for Trump. Want to be like Wilberforce and his opposition to slavery? Vote Trump!
Social media reactions to Metaxas’ op-ed:
Well, according to Metaxas, God Almighty will not hold us guiltless if we don't vote for Trump, so watch out, Matt, for the smiting. https://t.co/xzoB5Hx0j0
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) October 12, 2016
Metaxas carries Trump Water, totally sullying the life and legacy of two of our best: Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce. https://t.co/kuZHiaSj9b
— Philip Lorish (@plorish) October 12, 2016
— Jonah Ortiz (@itsjonaaaaah) October 12, 2016
— Andy Zell (@strangerextant) October 12, 2016