Evangelical leader Gavin Calver says he will be able to “more confidently” introduce himself as an evangelical Christian after Donald Trump leaves office.
Writing in The Times, the head of the UK Evangelical Alliance said Trump’s presidency had been “chaotic, farcical and at times beyond belief”, with the impact being felt “far beyond the shores of the US”.
He said Trump’s “brash” tweets had undermined the efforts of UK evangelicals to model a “kind” style of leadership, and created a “clash of cultures” between evangelicalism in the US and here that has been “challenging to navigate”.
“Even my job, serving at the Evangelical Alliance in the UK, was affected,” he wrote.
“The term ‘evangelical’ Christian suddenly took on a new meaning. British evangelicals became associated with a form of Christianity thousands of miles away, a Christianity that we have no influence over and limited engagement with.
“I can find myself tweeting about a food bank serving in Bradford, only for someone on the other side of the world to lambast me for being a Trump supporter. How did it come to this? Why has the word evangelical been so politicised?”
He said he was “passionate” about evangelical Christians engaging in politics but said their “primary loyalty” must always be to Jesus and not any political leader.
“Politics and faith may always be connected on some level. However, marrying the two as closely as we have seen in the US has been hugely problematic and often painful to watch,” he said.
“Christian leaders I have great respect for have unwaveringly defended poor political decisions. Christians need to pray for, and support their leaders, but they also need to make a stand against that which is wrong.”
His hope, he said, was to see American evangelicals “liberated from any feeling of obligation to a specific party”.
He concluded by saying he was praying for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and for the day when the term ‘evangelical’ is no longer “toxic”.
“With a new president stepping into power I can now look forward to a time where I more confidently introduce myself, without fear of misunderstanding or connection to US politics: ‘Hi, I’m Gavin, I’m an evangelical Christian,'” he said.