The story of the 2018 midterms for me came not on Election Day but at a Republican campaign rally in Missouri Monday night (Nov. 5), when President Trump’s speech was interrupted by medics tending to a supporter who had collapsed. Bystanders launched into “Amazing Grace,” and soon a wide swath of the crowd was solemnly singing what is easily the most recognizable and well-loved hymn in English-speaking Christianity.The camera, though, stayed on Trump, who was forced to stop speaking. I leaned in, studying the president as he wandered awkwardly around the stage, pointing to the singing crowd like the showman he is. I watched his lips for a glimpse of Trump in song. Then I realized: He could not join in singing because he does not know the words to the hymn.
This campaign-trail vignette illustrates the great irony of evangelical Trumpism. Supporters tolerate and even cheer his white-nationalist appeals, and they ignore the rampant corruption and criminality in his administration, while rarely taking account of how his appeals to fear and division trample the grace found in the gospel.
According to exit polls, about 75 percent of white evangelicals voted Republican in 2018.
This is down five to six points from 2016, and the shift is significant. But it hardly represents an evangelical rebuke of Trump, whose bombast, race-baiting and frequent lies should alarm people who value character and integrity.