While it is a bit of an oversimplification, there are essentially two perspectives within institutional Christianity. One says that belief is a matter of memorizing facts, scripture, and doctrine. Success in this view is like passing a final exam. Entering through the gates of heaven in this view involves taking a test on an IPad. This view tends to hold that people are easily lead astray, and so encourages true believers to isolate themselves from outside influences that are seen as unclean. There is less emphasis on behavior, and any concern about behavior is condemned as “works righteousness.”
The second perspective sees faith and belief as leading us into deeper relationships with God and with one another. The measure of the life of faith is how well we love, not how many facts we can recite. The Kingdom of God is here on Earth, not in an afterlife. Questions aren’t problematic, they are essential to the process. There is not a distinction made between the sacred and the secular. Generally, the first group sees this group as inauthentic believers and this group returns the favor.
This brief overview may help to explain why these two groups struggle to understand each other. Hopefully it also helps us understand why Trump supporters who identify as Christians don’t feel conflicted when Trump’s policies and behavior are contrary to what they see as appropriate behavior. Remember, behavior is less important than belief. However, even for the most conservative Christian, there is still a point where behavior does matter. No authentic person of faith would endorse the behavior of a Hannibal Lecter. No authentic person of faith would engage in violent insurrection. Doing so crosses a line from faith info fanaticism, from religion into cult.
As America looks for ways to bridge the divisiveness that permeates our culture and politics, mutual understanding and tolerance are crucial. That is a voluntary process. Nobody can force another into understanding. We can’t mandate openness. Whether or not anybody else wants to help, what we can do is start building a better world. We can model appropriate behavior, stating our truth calmly and without rancor. Some will follow, others will not, but if the work is important we won’t let detractors stop us.