Here is one of the arguments some friends have made in defending the evangelical hard pivot toward Trump and right-wing politics more generally: The country is changing. No one will be friendly to all of our beliefs or values. However, if the progressives win, the likeliest outcome is some blending of dhimmitude and persecution. On the other hand, if the right wins, religious liberty will at least mostly be safe and we’ll be left alone. So it makes sense for orthodox Christians to migrate rightward.
The difficulty I see with this: Our churches do not exist within sealed spaces closed off from the world outside the congregation. Rather, our parishioners are being discipled all the time by the networks they participate in. So when we strengthen our ties to the political right and, in particular, when we tend to look past or gloss over the right’s sins for sakes of the political coalition (which is just a reality of life with any political coalition you try to participate in), we aren’t simply retreating into a stable space where right-wing governments protect our stable, faithful Christian communities. Rather, our communities are being shaped through the very act of partnering with specific groups, of speaking about some sins and not speaking about others. These things are, in themselves, formative.
So the point is not “well, we have a stable Christian community of mature, faithful believers and we have to choose between relative safety or dhimmitude.” I desperately wish that were the problem. The problem is we’re starting behind the eight ball when it comes to discipleship and catechesis and now we’re forming political coalitions that further form us and our parishioners away from Jesus and toward the naked pursuit of power.
In other words: I worry that by the time the American church has finished establishing its alliance with the political right, ostensibly done in order to protect us so we can follow the way of Jesus, we will, in fact, have long since abandoned the way of Jesus, replacing it with something far different.