Every four years, there is political chatter about trying to run a third-party candidate who will supposedly be more conservative than the Republican nominee. The lesson is the same every time this is tried: third-party candidates do not win because the United States is a two-party country.
The grumblings we hear about Donald Trump are mostly because of his strong stand against illegal immigration. Party bosses know that if Trump wins and then shuts down illegal immigration and so-called free trade, it will cost the Democratic Party millions of future votes and cost Republican businessmen lucrative deals for themselves with foreign countries.
Despite how current immigration heavily favors Democrats, many church leaders who usually lean Republican dislike Trump’s strong stance against illegal immigration. They oppose Trump’s plan to build a wall and deport illegal aliens.
They assume that more immigration puts more people in their pews, and most churches have a mission to bring the faith to people of all nations. Trump’s nationalistic tone, to make America great again, is not something likely to be heard from a church pulpit.
Yet rank-and-file churchgoers overwhelmingly support Trump’s views against current levels of immigration and trade. Evangelical voters, in particular, preferred Trump over his rivals in the Republican primaries, and they will surely vote heavily in favor of Trump rather than Hillary in the general election.
Despite the opposition of their members, some church leaders persist in supporting permissive immigration and opposing Trump. In sharp contrast with their congregations, they are more likely to agree with Obama on immigration than with Donald Trump.
Two years ago, officials from several conservative Christian denominations met with President Obama in the Oval Office and gushed their support of his “immigration reform.” Obama’s phony “reform” means legislation that would grant citizenship to illegal aliens and do little to stem the flood of illegal immigrants into our nation.
The immigration issue may be preventing some church leaders from siding with Donald Trump now. While opposition to Trump is expressed in moral terms - even though they had no trouble supporting the divorced Ronald Reagan in 1980 - a real motivation is that church leaders do not want Trump’s criticism of immigration.
The prior Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney, stridently criticized Donald Trump earlier this year, and still refuses to endorse him. This should not be a surprise, because Romney had harshly criticized Trump’s statements about immigration during the campaign.
Rev. Luis Cortes, as president of an Hispanic Christian network and nonprofit legal organization that helps immigrants, declared after the White House meeting that “the entire religious community” supports an Obama-style immigration reform package. “For the first time ... all the major denominations and churches and religious bodies of this country believe that it is a moral imperative that we get immigration reform done,” he asserted.
But churchgoing voters indicated otherwise during the Republican primaries, by nominating Donald Trump. Now is the time for church leaders to listen to their own flock on the important issue of immigration.
The amount of immigration allowed by a nation is a political matter, not a religious one, and this issue has become the elephant in the room impossible to overlook. The stunning election results in Austria two weeks ago demonstrate that those who try to duck or downplay the immigration issue are headed for defeat.
As in the United States, the leaders of both major political parties in Austria ignored the problems caused by immigration. A candidate emerged there named Norbert Hofer, who campaigned on “putting Austria first” despite the media giving him little chance of winning.
On April 24, Austrians voted with a large turnout, and the candidate opposed to permissive immigration won the first round in a stunning double-digit landslide. The two major parties that had echoed failed immigration policies, as Democrats and Republicans here have done, fared so poorly that they failed even to qualify for the upcoming runoff, which the Trump-like Austrian candidate is also expected to win.
Church leaders should recognize that responsibility is just as important as charity. No church would urge people to unlock their doors at night in order to allow anyone in, and we should not persist with open borders to welcome hordes of illegal aliens who include many hardened criminals.
When an unwelcome “neighbor” comes into our home, we “deport” him out of our house, and Trump’s leadership on the immigration issue has earned him the support of millions of Democrats and Republicans alike. Loving our neighbor does not mean unlocking our doors to any and all comers.
There will not be a third-party candidate who is as good as Trump on immigration. There will be only two viable candidates to choose from this fall, only one of whom will safeguard our country against immigration, and Jesus will not be on the ballot.