A few years ago, I posted a blog, The $5 Sinner’s Prayer. In it, I shared a story about my encounter with a very shrewd homeless man. As I began to tell the man how Jesus had changed my life, he abruptly stopped me and said, “For $5, I will repeat the sinner’s prayer with you.” Apparently, he was used to evangelicals having him repeat a prayer that would supposedly make him a Christian.
Even from a psychological perspective, I thought he was worth the $5. I am sure he’d made many naïve evangelicals walk away with the satisfaction of thinking they’d made one more person a Christian by simply having him repeat some words. However, he was also an excellent businessman who’d learned what it was that those evangelicals wanted to hear, and would provide it for them.
Recently, I heard a rumor that went something like this, “Pray for Donald Trump. Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family recently reported that Donald had prayed with a good friend of his to receive Christ and to establish a personal relationship with Him.”
I have not heard or seen Donald make such a confession. In fact, in 2015 when moderator Frank Luntz asked him whether he had ever asked God for forgiveness for his actions, Trump said, “I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there,” he said. “I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”
I do realize that as early as last June he softened the above words by saying he hopes not to ask God for “much” forgiveness, but I still have a question for my evangelical friends. If Mr. Trump has prayed a typical “sinner’s prayer” with Dr. Dobson’s friend’s uncle’s cleaning lady’s brother, would he have asked God for blanket forgiveness of all his sins, or just a little for some of the mistakes he might have made?
I know, I know! How dare I question a man’s faith when only God knows a man’s heart? You are absolutely correct. I don’t’ know Trump’s heart. So, I’m supposed to take Dobson’s friend at his words and believe what the man claims. Something that even Donald himself has not claimed.
I just wonder if the same evangelicals were willing to extend as much grace to President Obama, who not only attended church before getting elected, but also on many occasions has confessed to being a Christian? Many might say that they wouldn’t extend the same grace to Obama because “His actions didn’t match his confession!” Do Donald’s actions match his confession? Could it be that he is, like the above homeless man, just a shrewd businessman who knows what it is that we evangelicals need to hear?
You might say, “We need to give Mr. Trump time. After all, he is a new believer.” How much time? Do you honestly believe that a man in his 70s can change overnight because a few days ago, he repeated some magical words? And if this is true, don’t you think we’re setting the man up for failure since there’s no way he would be able to live up to the standards we expect of our Christian politicians—becoming a saint in the next few months before he takes office? How absolutely foolish! Unfortunately, we evangelicals are notorious for doing stuff like this. You have to be my age or older to remember what we did to Bob Dylan after he publically made a confession of faith.
Maybe it’s my Muslim background, or maybe it’s just common sense, but I’ve come to love even more Christ’s words, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” In this crooked age, we have to put aside our naiveté and take Jesus’ words much more seriously.
If you want to vote for Mr. Trump, do it because you’re voting your conscience, or as a man on a radio talk show said, “I am voting for Trump because Hillary is the devil that I know.” But PLEASE don’t do it because of a rumor that says he might have said a prayer and now he is a follower of Christ. That’s an insult to my Lord, my faith in my Savior, Jesus Christ and my intelligence.