How can Christians defend Trump
This year the US presidential elections are due. US President Donald Trump is trying to secure the support of evangelical Christians in the US. In Miami, Florida, he starts the Evangelicals for Trump campaign.
DOMRADIO.DE: How important are evangelical Christians to Trump?
Prof. Dr. Godehard Brüntrup SJ (Jesuit priest and USA expert): You voted for him with over 80 percent. It's a very important group for him. This is the group that is most strongly behind him of any religious group in the United States.
DOMRADIO.DE: What makes this group so special compared to other religious groups?
Brentrup: It is a group that is biblical fundamentalist, i.e. religiously conservative, and which is also largely politically very conservative. So measured by our standards, it is a group that would even move close to the AfD camp in many areas.
DOMRADIO.DE: And does that fit well with Donald Trump's policies in this context?
Brentrup: Yes and no. Trump's voters from the evangelical camp are mostly people from the south and middle of the USA who feel economically left behind and who on average earn less than they earned in the 1990s. They see themselves as the losers of globalization and therefore want a different economic policy that is nationalistic: America first. And so there is a connection.
On the other hand, as Christians, of course, they see that Trump doesn't live the way a Christian should live at all: married several times, violently towards women. There is a tension that evangelicals feel in themselves, that they are supporting someone who is actually not an ideal Christian in his personal life.
DOMRADIO.DE: Trump boasts of how much he has done for evangelicals. What is it?
Brentrup: He did a lot for them because evangelicals are very conservative on moral and ethical issues too. For example, on the question of abortion, they are firmly in favor of abolishing the existing regulation in the USA. And Trump, like no other president before, has appointed conservative judges, so now there is a chance that liberal abortion legislation may be overturned.
DOMRADIO.DE: Donald Trump also describes impeachment, i.e. the impeachment process, as a witch hunt against him. Is this assessment shared by his followers?
Brentrup: A prominent journalist for an evangelical newspaper has sided with those who want to remove Trump from office. But that has not met with much resonance within the evangelical movement. Most of them continue to support Trump and therefore reject impeachment as a purely electoral measure.
DOMRADIO.DE: The television debates of the Democratic presidential candidates are still ongoing. What qualities does a successful candidate have to have to stand up to Trump? What qualities does a democrat need to have to score points with evangelicals?
Brentrup: He or she should take care of those who feel economically disadvantaged. In addition, the evangelicals who vote for Trump are largely white and fear that the country will be infiltrated. So the candidate would have to take on this fear of the stranger and also be politically more conservative on crucial issues. A Democrat cannot achieve this mixture in practice. I believe that the white evangelical voters are not available to the Democrats right now. It is different with Hispanics and the blacks among the evangelicals.
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