I listened yesterday during morning worship as one of the elders at my church prayed for the United States, and I immediately sat up straight. I expected to hear the name of a candidate – one in particular.
I always listen to these prayers, of course, but most Sundays we pray for other countries – where the church is being persecuted, for example, or countries where we support missionaries – not for my country, the country where I have lived most of my life, the country that I still call home and hope to return to one day.
And it wasn’t one of those low-attendance Sundays, either, when the highlight is seeing everyone at coffee hour and enjoying the warm sunshine outdoors. It was Palm Sunday, and the church was filled. We had just seen a hundred or more children parade through the sanctuary while waving their palm branches and singing “hosanna to the King of kings.”
And then there it was – a prayer for the United States, “as it prepares to elect a new president,” or something like that. No specific candidate was mentioned.
Americans like to think that “the eyes of the world” are always on them, and that isn’t quite true. People who live in other countries are often oblivious to whatever is happening in the United States. But not right now, not with Donald Trump running for president and closing in on his party’s nomination.
I haven’t asked everyone I know for an opinion, but I have heard enough to say that the general mood where I live is “what are you thinking?” The feeling behind those words ranges from bemusement (the usual response to American behavior) to fear. What the country with the most powerful military force in the world does is naturally a matter of concern to others.
I have to admit that I am more fearful than bemused. I am especially concerned that so many evangelical Christians would be able to support a three-times-married reality television star, who has built a large portion of his fortune from casinos, who calls for targeting innocent civilians in war, who has mocked a journalist with disabilities, who has threatened the religious liberty of minority groups in the United States, who has gained the support of white supremacists for his demeaning remarks about African Americans, Mexican immigrants, Muslims, and Syrian refugees.
And then there is his well-documented attitude toward women.
Given all of this – and more – I would have expected a far different response from evangelical Christian voters. But I am wrong. At this time Trump is favored among evangelicals and continues to receive endorsements from prominent leaders in the evangelical world. One of them – Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University – even compared Trump to Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr.
I don’t know what more to write, but I know I cannot be silent. I hope the elder who prayed yesterday continues to pray for my country. I hope that all of our elders are praying. I am praying too.
(Photos: Nothing to do with Donald Trump, I know, but left from the most recent Israel trip and too good not to use.)