Opinion | There Are Evangelicals Who Stand Against Trump. I’m One of Them.

Like many kids who grew up as evangelicals, I was taught that abortion was the only issue when it comes to politics. When I turned 18, in the 1990s, my father took me to the Allen County Republican headquarters in my Indiana town, where I registered as a card-carrying conservative. Then we went to Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island for celebratory chili dogs.

“It doesn’t matter who is president for a term or two,” Dad told me. “We vote for the candidates who want to protect the dignity of human life.” And those candidates were all in the Republican Party.

Though abortion was the core battle, evangelicals have rallied around various flags of the culture wars for my life. One of the first of these I remember was when Andres Serrano’s photograph of a crucifix suspended in urine caused a backlash among evangelicals. Dad said it was a disgrace; I agreed with him.

Neither of us knew that Serrano was Catholic — not that knowing that would have made us more sympathetic to him — or took seriously the interpretation that the piece was a reaction to the exploitation of Christian iconography. To us, and to the church and broader community to which we belonged, it was blasphemy. And it was worth raising hell over.

A lifetime raised in a culture prepared to go to war over immorality made it especially disorienting when Donald Trump rode down a golden escalator into the presidential campaign, and captured 81 percent of the white evangelical vote. Trump mocked a reporter with physical disabilities, bragged about groping women, retweeted comments likening him to “the second coming of God.” He was accused by multiple women of sexual assault. He claimed he didn’t pray to God for forgiveness.

But instead of outrage, in defense of a basic sense of morality, loyalty to Mr. Trump only seemed to grow among white evangelicals. Their loyalty remained, even when the American president left a bunker in the White House, scattering a peaceful protest with aggressive riot-control tactics after the killing of George Floyd so he could walk to a church, hold a Bible, and have a photo taken.

“We don’t like him,” evangelical friends tell me, “but we don’t have a choice if we believe in religious liberty and the sanctity of life.” They sound a lot like my father delivering his Coney Island argument for one-issue voting back in 1996.

The coming election is less about whom evangelicals are voting against and more about whom we’re voting for. White American evangelicals appear to be unrattled no matter what stunts, antics, gaffes or pandering we see from the president. Our bond to the Trump administration appears to be growing even stronger. We want Mr. Trump in office. More of us do now than in 2016.

The Trump administration is offering us a conservative court, and with it, the possibility of Roe v. Wade’s overturn. But at the heart of this election, more than abortion, religious liberty, or any other single issue, is fear. We are afraid of losing dominance over people who look and live differently than us. Evangelicals are afraid to lose power, and Trump offers us access to it. Polls again show Trump with a commanding lead among white evangelical voters.

But about 19 percent of the millions of white voters who identify as evangelical did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016, and millions of them will not be voting for him in 2020. I’m one of them. Evangelicalism has always been a big tent, and I’m in it, too.

Even though we are so deeply divided, I’ve seen the generative love and humanity of so many conservative Christians. Like millions of other American Christians, I’m politically progressive, and I also believe in the sanctity of all life — whether in the womb or out. I’ve been a Presbyterian for 15 years, but pretending my roots aren’t in evangelicalism would be disingenuous, and also allow my identity to be shaped by a stereotype I don’t fit.

Evangelicals are protesting after the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor — we are, without hesitation, denouncing racism. Many of us are pro-all of life. We’re against the death penalty, denounce white supremacists, welcome refugees and believe in equal pay for women and equal rights for all people. As a deacon at my church, I help provide homeless teenagers with meals purchased from minority-owned restaurants struggling to stay open during the pandemic. Like those in thousands of other churches, we show up for our city.

The couple of million of us who stand against Mr. Trump are holding on to hope that the good work Christians do out of the spotlight can salvage our public witness and outshine the hypocrisy burning brightly from our ranks. The work of rebuilding begins with following the lead of our Black and brown brothers and sisters, bringing old sins of racism and sexism into new light. By lifting up just about anyone Mr. Trump has belittled to gain dominance.

Christians are called to not just tolerate, but also welcome the stranger and serve the poor. To be hospitable, not judgmental, to people across racial, gender and socioeconomic lines. To do a better job of listening, repenting and voting with the marginalized and the underprivileged. There will most likely be overwhelming white evangelical support for Mr. Trump this election. But regardless of the outcome, there is a sizable remnant of evangelicals who will persist in choosing human flourishing over fear.

Sara Billups is a writer based in Seattle.

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