A number of Never-Trump "progressive evangelicals" have banded together and released a document they hope will draw evangelicals away from the president.
A cursory reading of the document called "Reclaiming Jesus" finds a lot that most Christians would have a hard time disagreeing with. Statement Three, for example, says: "We believe how we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick and the prisoner is how we treat Christ himself." (Matthew 25:31-46). The following "therefore" statement, however, reads like an attack on President Trump's policy on illegal immigration:
"THEREFORE, WE REJECT the language and policies of political leaders who would debase and abandon the most vulnerable children of God. We strongly deplore the growing attacks on immigrants and refugees, who are being made into cultural and political targets, and we need to remind our churches that God makes the treatment of the 'strangers' among us a test of faith (Leviticus 19:33-34)."
Christian apologist Alex McFarland of Truth for a New Generation says nothing in scripture demands open borders and unsafe communities.
"I pray that people will not be misled by the religious lingo sprinkled throughout this document and [by] the either accidentally or intentionally crafted logical fallacies that permeate this very unsettling tome called Reclaiming Jesus," he tells OneNewsNow.
Statement Six of the document says the authors believe in the Great Commission found in Matthew 28 – and the subsequent "therefore" statement describes the "America First" philosophy as "a theological heresy for followers of Christ."
"While we share a patriotic love for our country, we reject xenophobic or ethnic nationalism that places one nation over others as a political goal," the document adds.
McFarland admits his hope that the document "dies a quick and quiet death – because it's a misstatement of the gospel and it's a misstatement about what patriotism really is."
The document grew out of a private gathering of church leaders on Ash Wednesday. Signers (listed at the conclusion of the document) include Rev. Jim Wallis, president and founder of Sojourners, and Dr. Tony Campolo, co-founder of Red Letter Christians.
Dr. Robert Jeffress, senior past of First Baptist-Dallas, contends that signers like Campolo and Wallis make Karl Marx himself look like a conservative. "I think as you lift the veil, what this really is is one more attempt by the Never-Trump Christians to try to diminish or take away the very positive things that are going on," he tells OneNewsNow.
Jeffress, one of President Trump's evangelical advisors, argues that the self-described objective of "Reclaiming Jesus" – i.e., trying to lure evangelicals away from their support for the president – likely won't come to pass. "These Never-Trumpers have very little influence over evangelicals as a whole, as seen by the president's continued high approval ratings," he notes.
A January 2018 poll by the American Culture & Faith Institute indicated that despite "media thrashings" during his first year in office, Trump's favorability among born-again Christians had dropped only slightly, from 58 percent in February 2017 to 54 percent. ACFI cited the economy and national defense as factors sustaining the president's evangelical base.