Donald Trump may not have overwhelming approval among Americans, but one group he can always count on for support is evangelical Christians. And Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, doesn’t understand why.
As HuffPost reports, Donald Trump has a dismal approval rating nationwide: at 38 percent, it’s among the lowest any president has ever had in the history of such polls. But among white, evangelical Christians, 81 percent of whom voted for him in 2016, Trump still enjoys an approval rating of 66 percent.
The Most Rev. Justin Welby doesn’t understand why.
“No, I don’t understand it. I really, genuinely do not understand where that is coming from.”
That puts Welby in a somewhat awkward position. As the spiritual leader of the 85 million Christians worldwide who identify with the Anglican Communion (that is, the Church of England and its international affiliates, such as the Episcopal Church in the U.S.), he is, of course, expected to hobnob with politicians. One such politician is Trump, who will be making an official state visit to the U.K. next year, and the two will almost certainly be in the same room together.
Welby says he’ll meet Trump, but only officially. And there will be no respect or admiration coming from him toward Trump. In fact, he says, he hopes that meeting will be an opportunity to show Trump how to be better.
“I spent years and years involved in conflict stuff around the world where I met people who had killed many, many people. Part of the job is to meet people you disagree with and to testify of the love of Christ to them and to seek to draw them into a different way.”
— Lord Mayor of London (@citylordmayor) November 13, 2017
Welby also says that he’s been invited to a state dinner with Trump, but he has no intention of interacting with him besides shaking hands.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is not the only Christian leader whose opinion of Donald Trump is less than favorable. Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics and himself a head of state, has been a bit less direct and more circumspect about his feelings on Trump than Welby, but it’s clear the two don’t see eye-to-eye. As CNN reported back in May, the pair have wildly differing views on climate change and immigration, and have had something of a public spat about the issues. And when the two finally met face-to-face, it was awkward.
Back in the United States, a small minority of evangelical Christians see Trump and Christianity as incompatible with each other. Writing in Ministry Matters in July, Zach Hunt notes that evangelical Christians’ support of Trump is, at best, hypocritical.
“How could so many Christians support someone so radically anti-Christ in every way — and not think see any problem in doing so?”
For Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, however, the answer to that question is simple: it’s not possible to be a Christian and support Donald Trump.
[Featured Image by Alex Brandon/AP Images]