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My Baptist pastor dad was a registered Democrat while my mom was a registered Republican. Believe me, I heard both the pros and cons of President Harry Truman.
Though seemingly an odd coupling, in a later political era, my mother became a big fan of Chuck Colson.
Colson, a special counsel to President Nixon who became known as the “master of dirty tricks” for the Nixon administration, and the mastermind behind the Watergate break in, ended up in a federal prison for his multiple violations of the laws that govern our republic.
While in prison, Colson had his “come to Jesus” experience and repented of his past sins, particularly those committed while serving President Nixon. This transformation led Colson to initiate a Christian prison ministry. It was during this time that my mother became a fan.
Colson’s reflections and statements following his confessional of wrongdoing and change of heart are illuminating and remain relevant in this age of President Trump and the 80% of U.S. evangelicals who still, despite facts and voluminous evidence, cling to a belief in Trump.
What remains as factual is that polling data continues to reveal that white evangelicals have been more influenced by Trump’s racial rhetoric and anti-immigrant rhetoric than the Bible!
May I pose a question to all the evangelical supporters of President Trump? Have you been swindled?
I believe you have been taken by a con artist!
In 1987, Colson wrote a book, “Kingdoms in Conflict.” In this work, Colson described how he assisted Nixon in building his silent majority coalition, which also included evangelicals.
Colson described how he invited various conservative evangelical leaders to the White House to “enthrall them with the mystique of political power.” He described such with the following words: “First they dined with me in the executive dining room in the West Wing. I would escort them past saluting guards and down a long corridor lined with dramatic photos of Nixon in action.”
Colson indicated that this ruse worked most of time, but those who needed more prodding would be taken to the Oval Office with the potential of meeting President Nixon.
Of this Colson wrote, “Invariably, the lions of the waiting room became the lambs of the Oval Office.”
A paragraph that every evangelical leader or Christian who bows the knee to Emperor Trump should read Colson’s words, “Ironically, none were more compliant than the religious leaders. Of all people, they should have been most aware of the sinful nature of man and the least overwhelmed by pomp and protocol. But theological knowledge sometimes wilts in the face of worldly power.”
I ardently believe that an ignorance of history will lead to a repeating of the mistakes of that history. We are currently enduring a repeating of a tragic period of our history. Evangelicals are playing with fire, trading moral authority for political power. There is a price to be paid.
If one looks closely at Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Council, Trump is using some of the same techniques Colson and Nixon used to pull the wool over the eyes of these leaders as to their ultimate purpose.
In this age of Trumpism, a time when truth, facts, moral guidelines and the U.S. Constitution are subject to Trump’s whims, tantrums and interpretation, Christians and citizens of all stripes face a choice. Will it be Trump’s worldview or will it be the way of truth, facts, moral guidelines and the Constitution that triumphs?
Edward “Ned” Walsh of Princeton is a retired Baptist denominational worker who served as executive director of Johnston County Habitat for Humanity from 2004-08.