Opinion  |  

I was there when Donald Trump became US president

Australian Christian Lobby’s Lyle Shelton reports from Washington D.C.

Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America, at 4AM AEDT today.

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The controversial and colourful businessman turned politician was sworn in at the Washington D.C. Capitol building. He made his oath of office on two Bibles; one was used at Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration.

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Lyle Shelton was in Washington D.C. for Donald Trump’s inauguration. Exclusive to Eternity, he shares his first-hand account of the official birth of the Trump presidency:

…Like it or not, Trump was today sworn in

Growing up in regional Queensland, I never dreamed I’d have the chance to be in Washington DC for a Presidential Inauguration. Toowoomba is a different planet. I’m still pinching myself.

As a Christian, it’s been fascinating and perplexing trying to discern what the God of nations is up to. We know from the Bible that he raises up kings, he sets kings down.

I am as appalled as the protestors waving ‘fascist’ placards by Donald Trump’s narcissism. The campaign revelations of comments demeaning women were despicable.

Like former President Bill Clinton, whose behaviour in the White House was worse than anything we know about Trump, our culture remains captive to the sexual revolution. We cover our eyes in a collective ‘nothing to see here’.

Protestors waving placards marched by but people in the pub clapped when Trump said he would make America great again.

Whether we like it or not, Trump was today sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.

Security was tight around the Washington Mall, which extends from the Capitol Building in a vast rectangle to the Lincoln Memorial, site of Martin Luther King Junior’s ‘I have a Dream’ speech and Forrest Gump and Jenny’s reunion in the pool of reflection.

We lined up at a check-point occupied by a group of rainbow-flag-clad protestors chanting ‘make America gay again’.

A lone Christian standing on an upturned milk crate with  a headset microphone and amplifier started reading from the Bible. The gay people chanted louder… only in America.

Eventually we realised we were not going to make it through security. Everyone had to empty their pockets, have their bags searched and pass through a metal detector.

The queue we were in snaked for hundreds of meters. With 30 minutes to go, we made a bolt for a pub on Massachusetts Avenue, just a few blocks from Capitol Hill, and watched on a big screen. Protestors waving placards marched by but people in the pub clapped when Trump said he would make America great again.

Meeting with Roman Catholic and evangelical Christian political activists in the days leading up to today, a few things stood out.

Now Trump is in, many have put aside their reservations about his character and are looking to the policy positives that he and his team have pledged.

Christians in this town involved in the big culture wars on marriage, freedom of religion and human rights for the unborn did not see a Trump win coming. They all agree that anyone who claims they did was lying.

But now Trump is in, many have put aside their reservations about his character and are looking to the policy positives that he and his team have pledged.

Christians in America knew that under Obama and under the prospect of a Hillary Clinton Presidency, they had big targets on their backs. They held their noses and were one of the main constituencies contributing to the Trump victory.

The LGBTI war on religious freedom, where Christians are being dragged through the courts for wanting to live out their beliefs about marriage and gender, is now in hiatus.

The Trump team have pledged to de-fund the giant abortion mill, Planned Parenthood, which in 2015 was caught out on undercover video selling harvested unborn baby parts to medical research companies.

A number of Christians from Vice President Mike Pence down, are spread  through the new Administration. Christian lobbyists in this town feel like it is ‘morning in America’ again, to borrow from Ronald Reagan.

Christian leaders, like Franklin Graham, who have not bowed the knee to same-sex marriage ideology, were no longer disbarred from praying at the inauguration.

In his inaugural address, Donald Trump referenced Psalm 133.

On a day off this week, I re-visited the Lincoln Memorial. While he certainly wasn’t perfect, Lincoln knew his King James Bible and its immortal words are etched in granite, derived from his second inaugural address and his Gettysburg address.

Trump thinks he has enemies and he lashes back on Twitter. Lincoln had real enemies who split the union in a bloody war.

Despite all he went through, he said he held “malice towards none”. He not only won the war but he emancipated the slaves and saved the union, forever changing the world..

In his inaugural address, Donald Trump referenced Psalm 133. “How blessed and how good it is when brothers dwell together in unity.”

Disruption was needed but I wish it came with the character of Christ.

This is so true but seems a million miles from Trump’s character. America is a strange syncretic mix of religions. Christianity, Mormonism, Judaism and, above all, nationalism and consumerism.

Myopic nationalism ran deep in his speech as part of his America first agenda. This resonates with the hurting workers in the so-called ‘rust-belt’ states who heard his call and gave him the White House.

Disruption has come to the world’s most political city. But today is not the day to make predictions.

Disruption was needed but I wish it came with the character of Christ.

Despite the deep flaws of the new President, it is a new day in America. There is a welcome reprieve from the war on Christians.

Christians here, despite their reservations about the new President, are determined to make the most of this opportunity to rebuild.

Today’s inauguration of course reverberates to Australia. We have an opportunity. Complacency from Christians about politics and the public square is not an option during the next four years.

Lyle Shelton is managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby.

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