An Evangelical Nation?

Politicized religion threatens the separation of church and state

Alex Barfield, Staff Writer

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     Growing up in Lee’s Summit, Mo., a town with one of the largest evangelical communities in the nation, Christianity was inescapable.

     I remember gazing out of the window of the family SUV as a child, my eyes centered on a megachurch just outside our neighborhood each and every time we drove by. I can recall, after a long day of playing, being told by my neighbor about the upcoming war between heaven and hell, the Christian righteousness of the political right and how evolution was a lie.

Trump is politicizing religion in an effort to get more votes in the upcoming election.”

— Alex Barfield

     For being in such a Christian community, my family’s religious identity was confusing and unclear. We periodically attended church, and during the summer I would go to Christian camps and vacation bible studies just like the other kids in my community. But the lack of exposure to typical Sunday school events made me feel like an outsider among my more religiously active peers.

     To put it bluntly, Christianity and its power just perplexed me as a child.

     It wasn’t until years later that I started to understand the influence and grasp that the church had on my community and the people around me. One of the biggest eye-openers for me was watching the famed documentary “Jesus Camp” for the first time. The film is an account of an evangelical church camp in South Dakota. Daily occurrences at the camp included denouncing Harry Potter as satanic witchcraft, intense forced praying sessions and, most notably, a direction of deity-like worship toward a cardboard cutout of then-President George W. Bush.

     After watching that scene in particular, I began to wonder how tight of a grasp politicians and political parties have on religion – Christianity in particular. It didn’t take long to get an answer.

     Since the early stages of his campaign for the last election, President Donald Trump has tirelessly pushed for a so-called restoration of a “Christian America.” From hosting numerous rallies during Sunday services at megachurches across the country to threatening to allow Christian prayer back into public schools and, most recently, speaking at the March for Life anti-abortion event in Washington, D.C., Trump is politicizing religion in an effort to get more votes in the upcoming election.

     This strategy is working extremely well. He has gathered the support of megachurch pastors across the country, many of whom, such as Dallas pastor Robert Jeffries, preach the need to vote for Trump during church services. The support from the church has continued despite unfavorable events such as accusations of sexual misconduct against Trump, as well as his handling of the situation on the Mexican border.

     It doesn’t matter whether you identify with one party or another, or if you are a Christian or not. For the good of all of the American people, church and state must remain separate entities for our country to survive.