COMMENTARY: Super Tuesday defied explanation, as did Christians' support for Trump

by Dr. Gregory Tomlin, |
A combination photo shows Republican U.S. presidential candidates Marco Rubio (L) Donald Trump (C) and Ted Cruz addressing supporters at their respective Super Tuesday primary and caucus campaign events on March 1, 2016. | REUTERS/Carlos Barria (L), Scott Audette (C), Richard Carson (R)

FORT WORTH, Texas (Christian Examiner) – If analysts were looking for some rhyme or reason to the way Christians voted on Super Tuesday, they might just be wasting their time. There isn't any.

So far, the only thing that appears certain is that Sen. Marco Rubio did better than Sen. Ted Cruz in states where members of the mainline Protestant denominations make up more than 20 percent of the voting public (states like notoriously liberal Minnesota, which he won, and Virginia, where he finished second).

Then again, Rubio also finished second in Massachusetts, which is 50 percent Catholic. Churchgoers there may have liked the fact that Rubio has a Cuban Catholic heritage.

Sen. Cruz, the most conservative of the candidates, won only three states – but important states which put his delegate count in a position to overtake Donald Trump's in the next round of primaries. I'm convinced he would have won more states if Americans hadn't mistaken commitment to principle as political intransigence and hadn't forgotten that faithfulness to the ideals of the Founding Fathers is better than watching Celebrity Apprentice.

Statistically speaking, the voting patterns defy explanation. They also defy explanation rationally.

I am aware that yesterday's multistate primary was more than votes for individual candidates. It was a referendum on the Washington elite, or as some call it "the ruling class," who seem to disdain real, simple Americans who want nothing other than to be left alone, who want to be able to provide for their families but who can't because of the government's crushing rate of taxation, and who want to be free in their states – as the 10th Amendment requires – to exercise control over their own social compacts.

I had hoped that America would surprise me yesterday. I had hoped evangelical voters, still the largest group of voters in the country, would think soberly about their choices and choose a candidate who reflects their values.

They did not in seven states, five of which are part of the famed Bible Belt where evangelical voices are the strongest.

Instead, evangelicals, drunk on anger and fear, broke for the anti-candidate whose antics – crude speech, coarse jesting, misogyny, personal insults, egocentrism and utter lack of knowledge about the Constitution – they believe are actually a justifiable response to their discontent with Washington. Leading the chorus of miffed evangelicals in pushing Trump as a viable choice were prominent evangelical leaders.

They used phrases like, and I paraphrase, "We're not electing a Christian-in-chief," followed by effusive praise for the man who would be dictator, and without thought of the future Trumpification of their faith.

Too strong, perhaps?

Not when a candidate promises to curb freedom of the press through tortuous libel cases, threatens to reveal what people have to "hide," and approves of plans to restrict religious freedom by monitoring mosques and prohibiting "all Muslims" from entering the United States because of their faith.

Not when the candidate pulled a "John Kerry" and said he knew KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, before he didn't know him, before he knew him again. Not when the candidate finds as suitable nighttime reading the sequel to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf – a book of speeches under the English title My New Order. Not when a candidate envisions the Christian faith as a set of beliefs that are "great, just great," but that do not require him to bend his knee and ask for forgiveness.

If Donald Trump envisions a government that can limit the practice and movement of Muslims, that same government he could well use to impede or eliminate of the practice and movement of Christians. And if he envisions Hitler as the quintessential propagandist, as his ex-wife Ivana Trump has said, I think evangelical Christians have to ask probing questions about who else has influenced the candidate's playbook and, more important still, his beliefs.

Super Tuesday was about our liberty. It was about choices between Democrat candidates who promise free Bubble-Up and rainbow stew to the masses (which they could only pay for by sapping the wealth of the working Americans) and a string of Republican candidates and their varying degrees of conservatism. 

It was also about our faith, which cannot be compartmentalized and ill-considered in tumultuous political times. If you want to know why, ask the German church of the 1930s. I'm sure they thought it was "just politics" and that their leader was the only possible savior of their state – until both their churches and the world lay in ruin.

Dr. Gregory Tomlin covers the intersection of politics, culture and religion for Christian Examiner. He is also Assistant Professor of Church History and a faculty instructional mentor for Liberty University Divinity School. Tomlin earned his Ph.D. at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and also studied at Baylor University and Boston University's summer Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs. He wrote his dissertation on Southern Baptists and their influence on military-foreign policy in Vietnam from 1965-1973.