Another senior church leader in Britain has joined a chorus of voices speaking out against the “uncritical support” evangelical Americans have for Donald Trump. To them, the US president’s policies simply don’t tally up with the religion’s teachings.
Paul Bayes, a senior Church of England bishop, told the Guardian that he believed “self-styled evangelicals” who support Trump are evoking God in a way that contradicts his message of helping the poor.
“Some of the things that have been said by religious leaders seem to collude with a system that marginalizes the poor, a system which builds walls instead of bridges, a system which says people on the margins of society should be excluded, a system which says we’re not welcoming people any more into our country,” said Bayes. “Whenever people say those kinds of things, they need to be able to justify that they’re saying those things as Christians, and I do not believe it’s justifiable.”
His comments follow those of Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury. “I really genuinely do not understand” why conservative evangelical Americans support Trump, he said last month. In his Christmas sermon, Welby, without naming Trump, also criticized “populist leaders that deceive.”
In the US, 80% of self-identified white evangelical Christians said they voted for Trump in the 2016 election, according to the Pew Research Center.
Several months into Trump’s administration—which rolled back regulations protecting consumers and the environment, and led to the mainstreaming of nationalist ideologies that once lurked on American society’s fringes—Pew’s research showed that churchgoing evangelicals remained a bastion of support for the president, with 78% approving of his performance.
“If people want to support rightwing populism anywhere in the world, they are free to do so. The question is, how are they going to relate that to their Christian faith?” asked Bayes.
“And if what I believe are the clear teachings of the gospel about love for all, the desire for justice and for making sure marginalised and defenceless people are protected, if it looks as though those teachings are being contradicted, then I think there is a need to say so.”