“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” — 1 Timothy 2:1-2
For generations Christians, including evangelicals, interpreted this admonition from the Apostle Paul as a directive to pray that their political leaders were guided by the wisdom of the Almighty. Even in authoritarian states where Christians were persecuted, they prayed that their dictators might bend to the will of God.
These prayers were uttered in the same spirit of a beauty queen contestant’s pontification on world peace during the interview segment of the beauty pageant. No one believes that a beauty queen’s soliloquy on peace will bend the moral arc of the universe toward peace and justice, and no Christian really believes that his supplications for political leaders will have an effect on their morality and adherence to Scripture.
But in the 1970’s with the rise of the Moral Majority, white evangelicals started to equate spirituality with the Republican Party, and instead of praying in a general sense for wisdom for political leaders, they prayed that the Congress and the president would uphold the family values of the GOP: anti-abortion, anti-women, and pro guns, a strong military and prayer in public schools.
Being pro-Republican is so ingrained in evangelical thinking that they now embrace a thrice married real estate huckster and serial sexual predator who became president by demonizing immigrants and palling around with white nationalists.
When white evangelicals intercede with the Almighty on behalf of Trump they don’t pray that he repent of his racism, intolerance and mean and petty ways, they pray that God would defend him from his enemies and bring his racist policies to fruition.
And they really believe in the efficacy of their prayers, they are persuaded that God is blessing their false Messiah, and his mission to make America Great Again.
We can be faithful to Paul’s teaching to pray for those in high positions without selling our souls to an extreme political ideology. Simply put: If a president’s policies and rhetoric are antithetical to the message of love and peace of the Gospels pray for his repentance, and if he rules with compassion and understanding, pray that God continues to bless him.
But thoughts and prayers and two bucks won’t get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks, vote the short-fingered vulgarian out of office in 2020.