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8/8/17

Trump and the Evangelicals: Op-Ed Susan Campbell: We Are The Other White Evangelicals

If you are a white evangelical Christian who doesn't support Donald Trump, expect to explain yourself — a lot.

Evangelicals — roughly defined as people who believe in conversion experiences, have a personal relationship with Jesus, and stress the importance of the Bible as their foundational document – have been a political force at least since the bicentennial, when Newsweek declared 1976 "The Year of the Evangelical."

That year, half of evangelicals voted for one of their own, Jimmy Carter, a real, live Baptist Sunday school teacher.

That's a hefty margin, but last November, some 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump, who is evangelical neither in word nor deed.

The theories as to what attracted white evangelicals to the most flawed president in history are many, but understand this: White evangelicals don't all sit in the same pew, and those who didn't flock to Trump are left with a feeling that the brand has been sullied by their fellows' support for the most flawed president in history.

"Even to this day, I struggle with whether I should still identify as an evangelical, but I think it's a term worth fighting for," says Ben Dubow, executive chef, director of culinary education and nutritional services at MACC Charities (MACC stands for Manchester Area Conference of Churches) and co-lead pastor at Hartford's Riverfront Family Church. "It's a movement worth fighting for," particularly considering the social justice issues that engage evangelicals — including one of Dubow's missions, feeding the hungry.

Dubow's path to Christianity started in his conservative Jewish family in Wilton. As a 4-year old, young Dubow called the family to the table for Shabbat services. In middle school, he and one of his sisters (he's one of seven) set as their goal saving Bridgeport from poverty.

And then in high school, Dubow researched a project on Taoism and Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (a fabulous political party platform, by the way). He also set out to write an expose for his school newspaper on Young Life, a Christian youth outreach program. (He was convinced it was a cult.) Instead, he converted to Christianity and later worked for the organization.

It was a rough conversion for his family to accept, though they reconciled and still spend part of each summer together on Martha's Vineyard.

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