A Donald Trump supporter prays with the GOP front-runner (Photo: Twitter)

A Donald Trump supporter prays with the GOP front-runner (Photo: Twitter)

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich.

These are the remaining contenders for the presidential nominations of the two leading parties, and one of them is almost certain to take residence in the White House early next year.

Given these names, the 2016 presidential race is poised to upset the status quo in Washington.

It also could redefine the conservative evangelical Christian voter, with an increasing number willing to back a candidate who has supported Planned Parenthood and far-left political candidates.

Pew Research on Monday posted an analysis of the issue, based on exit polling.

“As Donald Trump has racked up big wins among self-described ‘born-again or evangelical’ Christians in many of the early primaries and caucuses, some religious leaders, political analysts and researchers have questioned whether many of these self-described evangelicals actually are evangelical Christians,” the polling organization said.

Trump, himself, insists he’s an evangelical Christian, calling himself a “total believer” and stating, “I’m one of them.”

But the Pew analysis said those who described themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians mostly live that way, with “more than six-in-ten, for example, say they attend religious services at least once a week, and another 16 percent say they go to church once or twice a month.”

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“Fully 86 percent of evangelicals say religion is very important in their lives, and 83 percent say they pray every day. In addition, six-in-ten self-described born-again and evangelical Christians share their faith with others at least once a month, while an additional 16 percent say they share their faith at least several times a year,” Pew reported, citing its recent 2014 Religion Landscape Study.

Why then, asked Stephen Prothero at the left-leaning Politico, do so many evangelicals support Trump?

Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea have collaborated to create “Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians,” which confirms that groups like Pew Research, Newsweek and The Economist also identify Christians as “the world’s most widely persecuted religious group.”

“The big puzzle in this most puzzling of election seasons is why so many white evangelicals are flocking to Donald Trump, shouting Hosannas as he flies overhead in his private jet. On a Super Tuesday thick with primaries in the Bible belt, Trump won seven states.”

It “wasn’t supposed to happen this way,” Prothero wrote.

“Donald Trump curses like a bond trader. He mocks the disabled. He expresses no need for God’s forgiveness. He seems about as familiar with the Bible (‘Two Corinthians’) as ordinary Americans are with the loopholes of the IRS tax code,” he pointed out.

“He’s wrong for evangelicals on the issues, on theology, on piety, and most of all on ‘values,’ the buzzword of the culture wars over the past half-century.”

‘How can this be happening?’

The support for Trump by many evangelicals comes despite alternatives in Ted Cruz, “the pious son of a traveling evangelist,” Marco Rubio,”a staunch Catholic who won’t cotton to abortion even in cases of rape and incest,” and John Kasich, who is part of “an ultra-conservative Anglican denomination that went its own way after the Episcopal Church consecrated a gay bishop.”

Conservative Review senior editor Michelle Malkin noted a recent Drudge Report headline made an issue of Ted Cruz supporters laying hands on the candidate as they prayed for him.

“Funny, but I don’t remember the Armageddon-style headlines about Donald Trump having hands laid on him at his Trump Tower just a couple of months ago,” Malkin wrote.

The Christian Post said famed Christian leader Franklin Graham has warned that America “is in trouble.”

“You know that, and I think what happens in people after a while just kind of give up. They think, ‘Well, what can I do? It just seems like things keep getting worse and what can I do?'” he said.

He explained the solution isn’t difficult.

“If you don’t like who your government is, then you need to stand up and vote for Christians and get Christians to run for office, starting at the local level and filling government up with a generation of Christian men and women who aren’t afraid to take a stand for God and His laws and His principles,” he said.

Prothero noted Trump has financially supported liberal causes and politicians.

“How can this be happening? There is no shortage of theories, mostly revolving around the man himself. Some pundits have speculated that white evangelicals are attracted to Trump because his mammon-and-megalomania message resonates with the prosperity gospel of many evangelical megachurches, which emphasize health and wealth in this world over salvation in the next. Or perhaps evangelicals are drawn to Trump because they crave an authoritarian personality, which divides the world into black and white, the rulers and the ruled. Some see Trump’s rise as resulting from a fracturing of evangelical leadership; others see a breakdown between pulpit and pew. Or maybe ‘values voters’ have morphed into ‘nostalgia voters’ – fighting a culture war against an increasingly multi-religious and multiethnic society. Still others suggest it could be that white evangelicals view Trump as a modern day Cyrus – the Persian king who was not himself a believer but nonetheless made the Israelites great again, by releasing them from captivity, restoring them to their Promised Land, and rebuilding the Jerusalem Temple.

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“But here is a simpler explanation, a profound change in the landscape that political observers have almost totally missed: America’s evangelicals just aren’t all that evangelical anymore,” he wrote.

Pew said, however, that to assess the landscape accurately, exit polls need to “differentiate between highly observant evangelicals and those less devoted in their practice of the faith as well as between evangelical Protestants and those in other Christian groups, such as Catholics.”

“Christians – those who do not identify with the born-again or evangelical labels – are far less religiously active [than evangelicals],” Pew said. “For instance, just over half of Christians who do not identify as born-again or evangelical say they attend religious services at least monthly (53 percent) or that religion is very important in their lives (52 percent). And most non-evangelical Christians say they seldom or never share their faith with others.”

Pew argued the “distinctiveness of these self-identified evangelicals is clear within both parties.”

“Among those who say they are evangelical and Republican, 85 percent say they pray every day; about half of non-evangelical Republicans say the same. And most Republicans who identify with the born-again or evangelical labels say they believe the Bible is the literal word of God, which is more than three times the share of non-evangelical Republicans who express this belief,” Pew said

“Likewise, self-described evangelicals in the Democratic Party are far more likely than non-evangelical Democrats to say that they attend religious services regularly, that they pray daily, and that religion is an important part of their lives.”

Pew said its research “does clearly show that when those who say they are ‘born-again or evangelical’ are asked in more depth about their beliefs and practices, their responses are most often further confirmation that their behaviors are closely associated with evangelical Christianity.”

‘You’re a lot more harsh’

Franklin Graham acknowledged many evangelical leaders, like himself, are characterized as having a stronger tone than evangelicals of previous generations.

“Now, some people would say, ‘Franklin, you’re a lot more harsh than your father. Your father wouldn’t have done this.’ When my father was born, the Ten Commandments were on the walls of every school in America. When my father was born, the teachers still led classes with the Lord’s Prayer. … We’re going to lose everything if we don’t get involved in this next election, and we only have this next election, I think, for our voices to be heard,” he said.

Prothero notes that Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and another evangelical critic who has refused to support Trump, “says that the group that used to refer to itself as a ‘moral majority’ is at best a tiny minority, and a shrinking one at that.”

“We have taken comfort in the fact that there have been millions and millions of us in America,” he said. “Now we’re having to face the fact that, evidently, theologically defined – defined by commitment to core evangelical values – there aren’t so many millions of us as we thought.”

Prothero contends many evangelicals now are Republicans first and Christians second.

Liberty Counsel Chairman Mathew Staver, whose organization defends religious liberty, said the 2016 election will be the most important “of our lifetime.”

“This election serves as a clarion call for every Christ follower to vote and advance the Lamb’s agenda with the understanding that today’s complacency is tomorrow’s captivity. Let us vote, not as white, black or brown people, but as people of the cross.”

Matt Barber, a WND columnist, wrote, “We have abandoned our constitutional republican form of government, and we are entering into a soft despotism.”

Liz Lemery Joy, a columnist at the Times Union of Albany, New York, contends the Bible “is very clear … about how to choose candidates, and you don’t have to be a political scholar to figure it out.”

“Your vote is your seed into this state and this nation,” she wrote. “Every time you vote, you are planting the seed for the kind of harvest you want to reap. As for me, I want to plant seeds that will honor God, and create a harvest of blessing and prosperity for my children and future grandchildren.”

Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of the evangelical Liberty University, who endorsed Trump, says he’s disheartened by Christians who judge other believers for supporting the real estate billionaire’s candidacy:

It is sad to see Christians attacking other Christians because they don’t support the same candidate or the candidate who they believe is the most righteous. … God called King David, a man after God’s own heart, even though he was an adulterer and a murderer. … You have to choose the leader that would make the best king or president and not necessarily someone who would be a good pastor.

Christian Today said those Christians “owe it to God to be discerning voters so we don’t offer to Caesar what belongs to God alone.”

Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea have collaborated to create “Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians,” which confirms that groups like Pew Research, Newsweek and The Economist also identify Christians as “the world’s most widely persecuted religious group.”

 

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