NEWS
28/12/2017 12:51 GMT

US Evangelical Christians 'Uncritically Accepting' Of Donald Trump, Bishop Of Liverpool Says

'I do not believe it’s justifiable.'

Conservative evangelical Christians in the US are “uncritically accepting” of Donald Trump’s comments, a senior Church of England bishop has said.

Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, said that some American religious leaders were colluding with a divisive system which “marginalises the poor”, contradicting the teachings of the Bible.

Bayes told the Guardian: “Some of the things that have been said by religious leaders seem to collude with a system that marginalises the poor, a system which builds walls instead of bridges, a system which says people on the margins of society should be excluded, a system which says we’re not welcoming people any more into our country.

“Whenever people say those kinds of things, they need to be able to justify that they’re saying those things as Christians, and I do not believe it’s justifiable.”

Carlos Barria / Reuters
Evangelical Christians are 'uncritically accepting' of Donald Trump, bishop of Liverpool warns.

The US President is a Presbyterian Christian and has referenced the Bible at a number of rallies to appeal to his Evangelical base, but his attempts at espousing religious views in public have been awkward at times. 

Trump has admitted that he has not asked God for forgiveness, and refers to the Holy Communion as “my little wine” and “my little cracker”.

He said: “When I drink my little wine ― which is about the only wine I drink ― and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed,” he said. 

Trump’s contentious travel ban is currently in place, which prevents predominately Muslim nationals of Libya, Somalia, Syria, Chad, Iran, and Yemen from entering the US. 

Earlier this year the US commander in chief also announced he wanted to ban transgender people from enlisting in the US military - a plan which has been blocked by judges.

Bayes said that people in the US who call themselves evangelical “seem to be uncritically accepting” positions taken by Trump and his allies.

Although he stressed that not all evangelicals were Trump supporters.

In October, Trump became the first sitting US President to address a summit held by the Family Research Council (FRC), an evangelical Christian group which has been branded a “hate group”.

The FRC is an anti-LGBT, anti-Islam organisation, whose website states:

Family Research Council believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed. It is by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects. While the origins of same-sex attractions may be complex, there is no convincing evidence that a homosexual identity is ever something genetic or inborn. 

Last month, the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, told ITV’s Robert Peston on Sunday that he does not understand why fundamentalist Christians in the US are so supportive of Trump. 

“There’s two things going through my mind: Do I say what I think, or do I say what I should say? And I’m going to say what I think,” said Welby. “No, I don’t understand it. I really, genuinely do not understand where that is coming from.”

Bayes, who assumed the role of bishop of Liverpool in 2014, said that people could support right-wing populism, but questioned how that would relate to their Christian faith.

He added: “And if what I believe are the clear teachings of the gospel about love for all, the desire for justice and for making sure marginalised and defenceless people are protected, if it looks as though those teachings are being contradicted, then I think there is a need to say so.”

According to US think tank the Pew Research Center, 80% of those who identified as white evangelical Christians said they voted for Trump.

The think tank’s findings state: “While earlier in the campaign some pundits and others questioned whether the thrice-married Trump would earn the bulk of white evangelical support, fully eight-in-ten self-identified white, born-again/evangelical Christians say they voted for Trump, while just 16% voted for (Hillary) Clinton.”

Meanwhile, Trump has had a rocky relationship with the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, which finally culminated in this iconic photo being taken during the Pope’s first meeting with the US President earlier this year.

VATICAN POOL - CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES
Donald Trump met Pope Francis at Vatican City in May.

When asked about Trump’s election victory last November, Pope Francis issued a thinly-veiled critique, saying: “I do not give judgements on people or politicians, I simply want to understand what are the sufferings that their approach causes to the poor and the excluded.”