Evangelicals protest Pence speech because they're so fed up with Trump


Some evangelical Christians are getting more vocal about the immorality of Trump's immigration policies.

Given how popular the Trump administration is with conservative Christians, it's not surprising that Vice President Mike Pence spoke in front of the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting Wednesday. What is surprising is how many Southern Baptists didn't actually want him there.

As many as 30 to 40 percent of attendees at the meeting supported a measure to replace Pence's speech with a time of prayer, the Washington Post reports.

The measure didn't pass and didn't receive an official vote count — but its support in the convention hall was very visible, with hundreds of people holding up yellow ballots to back it.

The controversy has less to do with Pence himself than with the rampant racism and xenophobia of the administration he represents.

“For many years we have been talking about loving and listening to our minority brothers and sisters. This invitation [of Pence] does nothing to suggest that we are actually listening,” read the measure, which was proposed by Garrett Kell, a pastor at Del Ray Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia.

While Pence himself got a warm standing ovation from SBC annual meeting attendees when he took the stage, Washington Post reporter Michelle Boorstein noted that the audience seemed more divided about the policies of Pence's boss:

This isn't the first time we've seen some evangelicals pushing back against Trump's cruelty to minorities and immigrants.

Earlier this month, a coalition of evangelical leaders released a statement urging Trump to reconsider his "zero tolerance" immigration policy and keep immigrant families together. That coalition, the Evangelical Immigration Table, includes an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention called the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

Since the Reagan era, white evangelicals have tended to vote about four to one for Republicans, no matter who the candidate is. And Trump's support among that demographic reached an all-time high in April of this year.

Even so, that support isn't monolithic, and it's not inevitable.

Trump's support among white evangelical women, for instance, has fallen faster than his support among all women. And as Boorstein reports, there's a sharp generational divide among Southern Baptists between older members who want to fight to reverse the liberalizing cultural tide in America, and younger ones who want to focus more on healing social problems and reaching out to everyone, regardless of politics.

Will enough evangelicals turn away from Trumpism and Republicanism to make a difference in elections? It's hard to say — but signs like these suggest it's possible..

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.