In short, orthodox Christians feel as if they’re under cultural and legal siege because they are. Sixteen years ago, when I first starting defending religious liberty and free speech on college campuses, I would speak at churches and describe a mindset in which campus administrators and activists actively compared faithful-Christian student groups to the Ku Klux Klan. Audiences shook their heads in disbelief. They couldn’t imagine such a hysterical onslaught, and it felt distant, removed from their daily lives.
No one shakes their head now. And with all the social pressures on the left driving Democratic politicians to ever-more-vicious acts of religious persecution, the election of 2016 presented conservative Christians with nothing but terrible options: Vote for an immoral man who might help, vote for an immoral woman who will try to hurt, or vote for someone decent who can’t win.
Make no mistake, Donald Trump is president-elect in part because Evangelicals gave him their votes by a record margin. In an election this close, you can’t pin victory or defeat on any one group, but there is little doubt that had wavering Evangelicals not gone for Trump, his path to victory would have grown much narrower. The lesson here is clear: When the Left comprehensively and enthusiastically attacks millions of Americans, it forfeits any and all ability to reach those Americans for any purpose, much less to earn their votes.
Ironically enough, however, the short-term result of the election is likely to be an increase in religious persecution. While the Obama administration was hostile to religious liberty, the overwhelming majority of lawless acts occur in the deep-blue urban and cultural centers that are most enraged by the Trump win and are responding with sheer panic and fury. While some thoughtful leftists are opening their hearts to the need for greater tolerance and understanding, others are busy comparing Trump voters to lynch mobs, doing their best to poison a new generation of Americans against the church.
So, yes, leftist radicals are right when they say that “hate” helped turn the 2016 election. But it was their own malice and intolerance that proved decisive. They chant that “love trumps hate,” but in reality their hate sunk Hillary. They say a bigot is in the White House, but their own bigotry helped put him there.
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